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Quintus Smyrnaeus, Greek epic poet, probably flourished in the latter part of the 4th century AD. He is sometimes called Quintus Calaber, because the only manuscript of his poem was discovered at Otranto in Calabria by Cardinal Bessarion in 1450.
According to his own account (xii. 310), he tried his hand at poetry in his early youth, while tending sheep at Smyrna (present-day Izmir). His epic in fourteen books, known as Posthomerica, takes up the tale of Troy at the point where Homer's Iliad breaks off (the death of Hector), and carries it down to the capture of the city by the Greeks.
The first five books, which cover the same ground as the Aethiopis of Arctinus of Miletus, describe the doughty deeds and deaths of Penthesileia the Amazon, of Memnon, son of the Morning, and of Achilles; the funeral games in honour of Achilles, the contest for the arms of Achilles and the death of Ajax. The remaining books relate the exploits of Neoptolemus, Eurypylus and Deiphobus, the deaths of Paris and Oenone, the capture of Troy by means of the wooden horse, the sacrifice of Polyxena at the grave of Achilles, the departure of the Greeks, and their dispersal by the storm.
The poet has no originality; in conception and style his work is closely modelled on Homer. His materials are borrowed from the cyclic poems from which Virgil (with whose works he was probably acquainted) also drew, in particular the Aethiopis of Arctinus and the Little Iliad of Lesches.
Editio princeps by Aldus Manutius (1504); Kochly (ed. major with elaborate prolegomena, 1850; ed. minor, 1853); Z Zimmermann (author of other valuable articles on the poet), (1891); see also Kehrnptzov, De Quinti Smyrnaei Fontibus ad Mythopolia (1889); CA Sainte-Beuve, Etude sur . . . Quinte de Smyrne (1857); FA Paley, Quintus Smyrnaeus and the "Homer" of the tragic Poets (1879); GW Paschal, A Study of Quintus Smyrnaeus (Chicago, 1904).
This entry was originally from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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