This too is a characteristic phenomenon of the Alexandrians, classicism: that is, the awareness of a kind of profound detachment between the literature of the present and that of the past, and therefore the inclination, indeed the intention, to consider the creations of the past as models (classics par excellence!), which must be studied and reproduced in a reflex way. The poetry of previous periods had been essentially creative, not so much because of the greater or lesser genius of its individual authors, but because it had enjoyed a very special condition, which had allowed it to introduce its forms one after the other., its “genres”, first the epic, then the lyric, then the drama, etc., in relation to the different needs of time and place. Instead Alexandrian poetry was essentially reflected, because he turned to repeat all the previous forms, and repeating them he stylized them; divided them and subdivided into a number of smaller schemes; he considered them more and more as genres, with technical norms of subject matter, style, etc., from which only from time to time some original author managed to rise. In this work of technical regularization, Alexandrian poetry had philology as its great ally: most of the poets of this period were also philologists (collectors of classical texts, editors, commentators, literary and language theorists, etc.), sometimes even naturalists.
The origins of Hellenistic literature must be sought in the ancient seat, in Athens, at the various philosophical schools, especially at that of the Peripatetics, where they were educated at the end of the century. IV and at the beginning of III a. C. the young representatives of the new generations (such as Callimaco, Arato, Alessandro Etolo), scholars and poets, who then passed to Alexandria, Antioch, Pella, etc., and thus transplanted to the capitals of Alexander’s successors the flower of studies. The institutions of Ptolemy I Soter and then of Ptolemy II Philadelphus in Alexandria had great importance to determine such a transition and increase in culture: the Museum and the Library, which were like the hotbed and the symbol of erudite tendencies. In the Library the literary treasures of the past were collected,
Later, for a couple of centuries, the most conspicuous writers of the time were at the head of it, starting with Zenodotus of Ephesus up to Aristarchus of Samothrace. An illustrious grammarian was also Fileta di Kos, one of the initiators of the Alexandrian poetic movement; he called to Alexandria by Ptolemy I to direct the education of his son di lui, the future Philadelphus. He was the author of linguistic and philological studies (Glosse, etc.), but at the same time he composed elegies and poems-epills-in which he expressed the taste for the subtle, the graceful, the exquisite. A collection of elegies by him, named after his wife, concentrated his attention on the details of a determined love adventure. The other so-called elegiac poets, who flourished in large numbers since the beginnings of the third century BC, placed themselves on the same road as Philetas .: Ermesianatte di Colofone (author of a collection dedicated to his woman, LeontionBittide, si riattaccava alla a trend of which Antimachus of Colofone with the Lide had been a precursor about a century earlier: that is, he connected around a thin thread a number of legends of various origins, but especially amorous ones, unfolding them in the humblest and most delicate aspects. Similarly in the poem. Ermete), Alessandro Etolo, Fanocles, not to mention Callimaco, whose figure is much more complex and will require special consideration. These elegies, as well as the epilli, were essentially mythological in content, that is, they had their basis in the ancient patrimony of the epic, and only sought to pose it in a new, more modern, more subjective way. The strictly subjective part, the direct expression of individual feelings, was very scarce: and found its outlet rather in other compositions, which were also mostly in elegiac couplets, but very short: the so-called epigrams, of which they were lovers, with varying originality and attitude, almost all Alexandrian poets. One of the first and most original among them is Asclepiade di Samo (to which Posidippus, Edilo, Niceneto, and many others are connected), who in the space of a few couplets knew how to pour vigorous and ardent impressions, singing the ether, the children, the wine, the love, with notes of almost romantic pessimism. Above all lyrical temperament, he also tried to renew the tradition of Aeolian poetry by Alceo and Sappho, introducing compositions in asclepian lyric meters and in Aeolian dialect, of which some examples are provided by his youngest friend and disciple, Theocritus. Around Asclepiade di Samo and Fileta di Kos, on the islands and on the coasts of Asia Minor (to then expand towards Alexandria and the other centers of the Hellenistic world), a cenacle of poets, who were animated by the common intent to open the ways of new art.
The sciences. – Compared with the decline of poetry, the sciences are great. The study movement, which has its main center in Alexandria, is dominated by peripatetic concepts, and therefore aims at the specialization of all disciplines, carrying out a kind of encyclopedic program. Mathematics achieved its greatest achievements in this period, with Euclid who lived in Alexandria around 300 BC. C., and with Archimedes of Syracuse; similarly astronomy made notable progress thanks to Aristarchus of Samos and Hipparchus of Nicaea; and the natural sciences and medicine have distinguished scholars, such as Erofilo di Calcedone and Erasistrato di Ceo.