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Prefacevii Preface When asked by co-editors Helena Dettmer and Jack Holtsmark to assemble and oversee a special issue of Syllecta Classica on die Hellenistic era, we were honored and accepted die job, we were not, however, unaware of die pitfalls of die task. Collections of papers, especially if diey do not emanate from a well focussed panel or symposium, once set side by side do not always succeed and in fact risk raising more general questions tiian answering diose specific ones diey set out to tackle. Nonedieless, we took die risk and, what is more, forewent die attempt to engineer a diematically unified collection; rather than try to force any particular line of inquiry or limit ourselves to any one aspect of die age, we decided to put together a group of papers on as many different topics as possible to see what diey might suggest when juxtaposed. Through a combination of advertisement and invitation, we setded on six papers that take up a variety of seemingly unrelated areas (history, literature, philosophy, and religion), topics (succession, imitation, religion, geography, skepticism and gnosticism), and authors (Aratus, Callimachus, Apollonius, Sextus Empiricus, among outers). As we read die papers, it became clear to us that diere was more overlap among die papers than chronology, and diat diis overlap was interesting, possibly significant. (We should point out that none of die authors saw die other papers that were to be published in die collection prior to writing dieir own pieces.) In diis brief introduction to die volume, we call attention to some of die aspects of die Hellenistic age diat die papers, read togedier, reveal. In die opening paper, "The Succession of die Epigonoi," Richard Billows explores die problems of succession faced by Alexander's generals and their sons. This first generation of successors, die Diadochoi, were able to acquire dieir separate kingdoms in die wake of Alexander's death because of dieir extraordinary talents. Thereafter, given diat none of diis group descended from royalty or in any odier way possessed specific hereditary rights, die succession of dieir offspring was not guaranteed. Faced widi diis problem, as Billows shows, die Diadochoi managed to place dieir sons on die throne by raising diem to co-regency; as a telling exception, he notes that Lysimachus' failure to do diis in a timely fashion resulted ultimately in die loss of his kingdom. In order to maintain their position, die next generation of rulers, die Epigonoi, justified dieir claim to die throne by celebrating die achievements of dieir fadiers. Yet, in going this, diey had to "live in die shadow of a legendary generation, a generation to whom diey owed dieir own standing, but in comparison widi whom diey were doomed forever to fall short in die estimation of dieir contemporaries and oflater men." viiiSyllecta Classica 6 (1995) The urge to come to terms with die success or status of earlier generations is a universal phenomenon. Indeed it is found in European literature as early as die Iliad when die poet mentions that die stones easily picked up by die Homeric hero required several men to lift inhis day (e.g. Iliad 1.285-287). Even widiin die timeframe ofthe Iliad Nestor muses over the superiority of die warriors (especially himself) in the previous generation (cf. Iliad 1.254-283). Hellenistic Greeks, however, give evidence of having been particularly sensitive to comparisons witii tiieir Archaic and Classical ancestors, and one reason is readily apparent: the Greeks of diis period found themselves all over die Mediterranean, cut off from the world of die polis and as such alienated from die Hellenic tradition that was dieir cultural heritage. This gap had to be dealt widi. One way was to reestablish connection widi dieir shared tradition; another was to acknowledge die gap as unbridgeable and then to create, out of die past, a new order. The epigonal generations, whetiier dynasts or poets, philosophers or theologians, associated themselves widi, orcontrasted themselves to, generals, thinkers, and artists of die Archaic and Classical ages. The Epigonoi, as Billows argues, found it necessary to celebrate the achievements of tiieir family as a way of compensating for tiieir seemingly inferior status. Such celebration was commonly...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2160-5157
Print ISSN
1040-3612
Pages
pp. vii-x
Launched on MUSE
2015-04-01
Open Access
No
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