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Hermippos of Smyrna and his Biographical Writings
A Reappraisal


Series:  
Authors:  Bollansée J.
Year: 1999
ISBN: 978-90-429-0779-9
Pages: XXXVI-271 p.
Price: 60 EURO


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Summary:
Apart from the extant works of Cornelius Nepos, Plutarch and Suetonius, not a single ancient Greek or Roman biography has come down to us in its entirety, despite the great number of biographers from the early Hellenistic through the Imperial periods. Therefore, the study of the remaining testimonia and "fragments" - actually citations and excerpts passed on by later authors, and incomplete texts preserved on papyri - is indispensable for our knowledge and understanding of biographical writing in Antiquity. An important representative of the genre from the Hellenistic period is Hermippos of Smyrna, a member of the intellectual circle working in the Alexandrian Museion during the 2nd half of the 3rd century B.C. No less than 85 fragments have been preserved, dealing with the great names of Greek culture and civilization (the Seven Sages, legislators, philosophers, rhetoricians and other literary figures). These texts reveal Hermippos as a typical exponent of his working environment, with a strong penchant for sensational and remarkable stories as well as a firm basis in bookish erudition. After a short introductory chapter on the author's life and works in general, the present study offers a detailed presentation of the extant biographical material and concentrates further on Hermippos' choice of subjects, the organization of his oeuvre and his method as a biographer. The book concludes with four appendices, one of which provides the English translations of the surviving testimonia and fragments.


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