ABSTRACT

Few would argue that Callimachus' three ' mimetic' hymns—2, 5 and 6—were meant for performance in the religious contexts to which they refer. Like Callimachus’ other poetry, these are allusive, finely-wrought poems, “an amalgam of elements which combines the literary and the religious' inextricably and in equal measure”, as Hopkinson has put it 1 . But in what sense are they hymns? Callimachus adheres strictly, if sometimes deviously, to the hymnic genre's formal and thematic expectations, and his choice of mythological material is more often than not understood to conform to the genre's encomiastic challenge'. Most recent commentators would still agree that these poems function in the way hymns should function: they praise the god they address.