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The Life of Theocritus

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In the absence of reliable external evidence for the career of Theocritus, scholars, both ancient and modern, have drawn numerous biographical inferences from a wide range of passages in his poems referring to place names, personal names, topographic features, deities and festivals, athletes, even varieties of fish and plant life. This paper argues that most of these belong in the realm of fantasy. Beyond his Sicilian origins and his extended residence in Alexandria, where his main associations are with its royal patrons and its intellectual and literary life, we have little evidence with which to reconstruct the life of Theocritus as a writer. The chronology of his poetic activity is subject to similar uncertainty, although it can be argued that it extended over a longer period of time than many traditional accounts assume.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2016

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  • Hermes, founded in 1866 and currently edited by Siegmar Döpp, Karl-Joachim Hölkeskamp and Adolf Köhnken, is an international, peer-reviewed journal on Greek and Roman antiquity. It focuses on linguistics, literature as well as history. It features original articles in English, German, French and Italian.
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