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Seminar MA/ResMA Greek: Hellenistic Poetry



This course is open to MA and ResMA students in Classics.


In this class we will familiarize ourselves with a wide variety of poems and fragments from the Hellenistic period, focusing on key characteristics of Alexandrian poetry, such as the development of genres, diversity, innovative ‘Callimachean’ poetics, intertextuality, contemporary influences such as scholarship and science, and the increasing relevance of book poetry. Within this broad range, exemplary texts from many different genres will be studied, including epigram, epic, elegiac, hymnic and didactic poetry, in addition to novel forms such as the epyllion, works in bucolic fashion, and pattern poems. We will explicitly not limit our focus to the great figures of this period (Callimachus, Theocritus, Apollonius), but broaden our views by including many of the poets figures of the era. This broad approach serves to illustrate the change from the Classical to the Hellenistic period, the breach caused by the ‘new world’ of Alexander and its significant new literary center of Alexandria, and the manner in which new poets sought to redefine literature as they knew it from archaic and classical times.


  • Knowledge of primary texts relating to the theme of the class. Competence to read these texts and understand them within their literary context.

  • Knowledge of the cultural developments characteristic of the historical context of the theme of the class.

  • Critical assessment of secondary literature (book chapters, articles, commentaries).

  • Advanced research skills: independent formulation of complex research question, collecting materials (both primary texts and results of earlier research). Analyzing results, constructing arguments, formulating conclusions.

  • Oral presentation: presenting clearly and on the basis of arguments the results of the student’s research. Effective use of hand-out, illustrations or multi-media techniques.

  • Written presentation: setting out of research results effectively, clearly and in a well-structured manner.

  • Active participation and preparation: the student demonstrates involvement in the topic by asking well-informed and constructive questions and making contributions to the collective progress.


This course is a concentrated seminar. Classes two times a week in semester 2, block 4 on Tuesday 13.00-15.00h and Thursday 11.00-13.00h.

Time schedule



  • lecture,

  • individual study of source materials,

  • presentations.


When this class is taken for 10 ects:

  • Active participation and preparation (10%),

  • oral presentation (30%),

  • paper (60%) (MA: maximum 5,000 words; ResMA: maximum 7,000 words).

When this class is taken for 5 ects:

  • Active participation and preparation (10%),

  • oral presentation (35%),

  • written exam (55%).


  • Neil Hopkinson, A Hellenistic Anthology (Cambridge Green & Yellow), Cambridge 1988 (text & commentary).

  • Kathryn Gutzwiller, A Guide to Hellenistic Literature (Blackwell Guides to Classical Literature), Malden, MA 2007.


Via uSis


Dr. F. Overduin