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The founder and principal representative of Greek bucolic poetry, born about 325 B.C. in Syracuse, or (according to another account) in the island of Cos, pupil of the poet Philetas and friend of the poet Aratus. He lived alternately in Alexandria, at the court of Ptolemy II (Philadelphus), and in Sicily with Hiero, where he was much esteemed for his poetical skill and refinement. He died about 267. Besides a number of epigrams, thirty-two poems, some of considerable length, known as idylls, have come down to us. Some of these are probably spurious. Those that are undoubtedly genuine are of great poetical merit. They include the true bucolic idylls, descriptive of the life of shepherds and herdsmen, and also the genre pictures of every-day life and of the mythical age, together with hymns and eulogistic poems to his princely patrons, an epithalamium in honour of Helen, and some pieces in lyrical form. His poems of ordinary life are especially remarkable for their minutely faithful and dramatic descriptions. Most of his idylls are written in a largely modified epic language, with a skilful admixture of the forms of the Doric dialect spoken in Sicily, which still further enhanced their popular character. Two of the lyrical poems [xxviii, xxix] are composed in the Aeolic dialect.
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The Greek god of marriage and of the marriage-song (named after him). He is sometimes described as the son of Apollo and amuse (either Terpsichore, Urania, or Calliope), who had vanisbed on his own wedding day, and was consequently always sought for at every wedding. He is also described as a son of the Thessalian Magnes and of the Muse Clio, and as beloved by Apollo and Thamyris; or as the son of Dionysus and Aphrodite, who lost his voice and life while singing the nuptial song at the marriage of Dionysus and Ariadne. According to Attic tradition, he was an Argive youth who, in the disguise of a girl, followed to the feast of Demeter at Eleusis a young Athenian maiden whom he loved without winning the consent of her parents. Hymenaeus and some of the maidens who were celebrating the festival, were carried off by pirates, whom he afterwards killed in their sleep, and henceforth became the champion of all women and damsels. In art he is represented like Eros, as a beautiful, winged youth, only with a more serious expression, and carrying in his hand the marriage torch and nuptial veil. The marriage-song called Hymenaeus, which is mentioned as early as Homer, was sung by young men and maidens, to the sound of flutes, during the festal procession of the bride from the house of her parents to that of the bridegroom. In character it was partly serious and partly humorous. The several parts always ended with an invocation of Hymenaeus. (See EPITHALAMIUM) On the Roman god of weddings, see TALASSIO.
A Latin poet, born at Alexandria in the second half of the 4th century A.D. In 395 A.D. he came to Rome. Here he won the favour of the powerful Vandal Stilicho, and on the proposal of the senate was honoured with a statue by the emperors Arcadius and Honorius. The inscription on this statue is still in existence (Mommsen, Inscriptiones Regni Neapolitani, No. 6794). His patron Stilicho fell in 408, and Claudian, apparently, did not survive him. We have express evidence that the poet was not a Christian. He was familiar with Greek and Latin literature, and had considerable poetical gifts, including a mastery both of language and metre. These gifts raise him far above the crowd of the later Latin poets, although the effect of his writing is marred by tasteless rhetorical ornament and exaggerated flattery of great men. His political poems, in spite of their lau-datory colouring, have considerable historical value. Most of them are written in praise of Honorius and of Stilicho, for whom he had a veneration as sincere as was his hatred of Ruftnus and Eutropius. Against the latter he launched a number of invectives. Besides the Raptus Proserpiae, or Rape of Proserpine, an unfinished epic in which his descriptive power is most brilliantly displayed, his most important poems are (1) De III, IV, VI, Consulatu Honorii; (2) De Nuptiis Honorii Fescennina; (3) Epithalamium de Nuptiis Honorii et Mariae; (4) De Bello Gildonico; (5) De Consulatu Stilichonis; (6) De Bello Pollentino; (7) Laus Serenae, Serena being Stilicho's wife. He also wrote epistles in verse, a series of minor pieces, narrative and descriptive, and a Gigantomachia, of which a fragment has been preserved.
Type: Standard
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