Callimachus, fl. c.280–45 B.C., Hellenistic Greek poet and critic, b. Cyrene. Educated at Athens, he taught before obtaining work in the Alexandrian library. There he drew up a catalog, with such copious notes that it constituted a full literary history. He also wrote criticism and other works in prose, but is most notable as a poet. It is said that he wrote more than 800 different pieces. Of these, six hymns (meant for reading, with no religious use), a number of epigrams, and fragments of other poems survive. His greatest work was the Aetia, a collection of legends. Other longer poems of which fragments survive are The Lock of Berenice, Hecale, and Iambi. Callimachus' poetry is notable for brevity, polish, wit, learning, and inventiveness in form. He engaged in a famous literary quarrel with Apollonius of Rhodes over whether well-crafted short poems were superior to long poems. His works had a considerable influence on later Greek and Roman poets, especially Catullus.
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