restricted access The Poetry Machine: How the Alexandrian Avant-Garde Created a Library


This essay suggests that the Library of Alexandria emerged from poetry. The poetry of the Alexandrian avant-garde influenced the reference tool of the library, known as the Pinakes. I argue by looking at the structure of the Pinakes as a new tool—a new muse—providing artistic inspiration. Furthermore, I contend that the entries in the Pinakes also possessed poetic qualities. I conclude that the Hellenistic library in Alexandria was in fact a poetry machine, both as being poetry itself and as the means to produce poetry.