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Who's Who Ancient Greece: The Arts

Kallimakos (310-240 BC) Poet

Alexandrian poet

maskThis Greek poet and literary scholar was born on the Libyan coast, in the Greek colony of Kyrene (Cyrene), and died in Alexandria.

Regarded as the most characteristic of the Alexandrian style, he was the grandson of a Kyrenian general which figures because his name translates to 'good-fighter'.

He went to Alexandria as a young man , working there as a children's tutor, and studying with a scholar there and at the famous library of that city, drawing up a catalogue for it to facilitate its use.

Throughout his life he remained connected to the court of Ptolemy II and to the Museum of Alexandria. He was a very learned and prolific poet and literary scholar, whose works are said to have filled some 800 volumes. Though only the equivalent in material for one volume remains, various fragments on papyrus and on wooden plaques, discovered only in 1934, have given a more complete picture of his work.

One of his main subjects was the private lives of the dynasty ruling at the time, his poetry hence a type of political court poetry.