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The New Politics of OlymposKingship in Kallimachos' Hymns$
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Michael Brumbaugh

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780190059262

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190059262.001.0001

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Kallimachos’ Hymn “On Kingship”

Kallimachos’ Hymn “On Kingship”

(p.53) 2 Kallimachos’ Hymn “On Kingship”
The New Politics of Olympos

Michael Brumbaugh

Oxford University Press

This chapter assesses how Kallimachos characterizes Zeus’ kingship and the structure of his political regime in the Hymn to Zeus. Depicting Zeus as a powerful figure who uses force to take what he wants, Kallimachos initially presents political power as derived from physical power. The poet’s rejection of the lottery myth as a plausible rationale for Zeus’ ascension rhetorically reinforces this notion, while at the same time activating a Homeric intertext in which Zeus and Poseidon engage in a debate over whether the Iliadic politics of Olympos is an absolute monarchy or an oligarchy. Siding with Zeus in favor of monarchy, the hymnist elaborates a political hierarchy that ultimately implicates the king in an oversight role over those beneath him. Refiguring the king as a guardian and judge, Kallimachos expands his earlier account of kingly power to embrace a wider variety of kingly virtues. Through allusions to the proemial hymns that open Hesiod’s Works and Days and Theogony, Kallimachos further refines his presentation of the king’s prerogatives as he negotiates a role for the poet in constituting and projecting the king’s authority.

Keywords:   Hesiod, Homer, Kallimachos, Hymn to Zeus, kingship, authority, hierarchy, poet, intertextuality

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