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Biographies of the Epigrammatists

By J. W. Mackail

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Periods of Alexandrian Epigram
The history of the Alexandrian epigram begins with two groups of poets, none of them quite of the first importance, but all of great literary interest, who lived just before what is known as the Alexandrian style became pronounced; the first group continuing the tradition of pure Greece, the second founding the new style. After them the most important names, in chronological order, are Callimachus of Alexandria, Leonidas of Tarentum, Theocritus of Syracuse, Antipater of Sidon, and Meleager of Gadara. These names show how Greek literature had now become diffused with Greek civilisation through the countries bordering the eastern half of the Mediterranean.

The period may then be conveniently subdivided under five heads --

  1. Poets of Greece Proper and Macedonia, continuing the purely Greek tradition in literature.
  2. Founders of the Alexandrian School.
  3. The earlier Alexandrians of the third century B.C.
  4. The later Alexandrians of the second century B.C.
  5. Just on the edge of this period, Meleager and his contemporaries: transition to the Roman period.

Next: Roman Period

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