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This review is taken from PN Review 163, Volume 31 Number 5, May - June 2005.

The Poems of Callimachus, translated by Frank Nisetich (Oxford University Press) £24.99
Callimachus: Hymn to Demeter, edited with an introduction and commentary by N. Hopkinson (Cambridge University Press) £17.99
Callimachus: Hymns, Epigrams, Select Fragments, translated by Stanley Lombardo and Diane Rayor (Johns Hopkins University Press)

The re-release of N. Hopkinson's 1984 commentary to Callimachus's Hymn to Demeter on a print-on-demand basis, along with the 1988 volume by Lombardo and Rayor that is now also available by print-on-demand and the recent volume The Poems of Callimachus translated by Frank Nisetich, offers an ideal opportunity to re-evaluate the body of scholarship and rare verse translations of Callimachus. The three volumes easily represent the academic-poetic range, with Nisetich's volume firmly occupying the central magisterial position.

The 'maddening brevity' and erudition of Callimachus has made him one of those poets that begs for exegesis. The need is not a modern one - within a generation of his death (c. 240 BC) explanatory notes and comments were being added between the lines of his poetry. Hopkinson's commentary to the Hymn to Demeter opens with a brilliant and engaging summary of the 138 lines of this poem and analyses how the themes of the poem are structured on a tripartite model with the central narrative block framed by two symmetrical sections devoted to the ritual procession that is ostensibly the theme of the poem. What is brought out by such a detailed analysis is the genius with which Callimachus places us immediately in the midst of the ceremonial procession and the shifting voice of the poet that constantly causes us to re-situate ourselves in the perspective of the poem.

The multiplicity of voices results in a sense ...

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