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Apollonius of Rhodes


The apotheosis of Homer. British Museum, London (Britain). Photo Marco Prins.
Detail of 'the apotheosis of
Homer': Arsinoe III and Ptolemy IV offer a crown to the poet (British Museum)
Apollonius of Rhodes (third century BCE): Greek poet and scholar, living in Alexandria.

Callimachus of Cyrene had avoided writing long poems, comparing them to a muddy river, but his student Apollonius of Rhodes chose exactly this genre. His epic Argonautica, which deals with Jason's quest for the Golden Fleece, is written, like Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, in hexameters and is comparable to these epic poems. Often, Apollonius paraphrases the old master, who was very popular at the court of the Ptolemaic rulers Ptolemy IV Philopator and Arsinoe III

There is a big difference with Homer, however: Callimachus' heroes and heroines are, from a psychological point of view, more complex and credible. 

Apollonius's poem inspired the Roman Valerius Flaccus' Argonautica.

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