Andrew Erskine

Andrew Erskine, Professor of Ancient History, the University of Edinburgh: “Hellenistic Kingship and Intellectual Culture”


Greek intellectuals and literary men were a feature of courts throughout the Hellenistic world. Poets, dramatists, philosophers, historians and scientists could all be found there. The Athenian comic poet Philippides could count himself one of the friends of Lysimachus, the historian Hieronymus of Cardia served several generations of Antigonids, and numerous scholars took advantage of the Museum and Library of Alexandria. But why did kings whose reputations were made through warfare and violence sponsor and befriend men such as these? And why in turn did intellectuals spend time at the courts of kings? Previously it was the polis that had been the focus of their activity but the court now offered an alternative forum.  What impact did this change have on the character of Greek intellectual culture? Attention is often directed at the Alexandrian court, where there was the emergence of literary scholarship and the development of sophisticated, learned poetry aimed at a small, knowledgeable audience. But how was intellectual activity in the rest of the Hellenistic world affected?



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