genre:  poem
original title:  Αἴτια
language:  Ancient Greek

The Aetia (Ancient Greek: Αἴτια, romanized: Aitia, lit. 'causes') is an ancient Greek poem by the Alexandrian poet Callimachus. As an aetiological poem, it presents a large collection of origin myths in four books of elegiac couplets. Although the poem cannot be precisely dated, scholars estimate it was probably composed between 270 and 240 BC. Emerging from a tradition of writing going back to the poems of Homer, the Aetia provides the earliest source for almost every myth it relates. The stories of Books 1 and 2 have a dialectic structure, wherein characters engage in a discussion or debate. Books 3 and 4 offer a diverse range of linked dramatic settings. Two poems dedicated to Berenice II of Egypt—Victory of Berenice and Lock of Berenice—bookend the poem's second half. Widely read in antiquity, the poem elicited responses from several Roman poets. A translation of the Lock of Berenice by Catullus inspired Alexander Pope's The Rape of the Lock (1712). During the High Middle Ages, the Aetia disappeared from circulation. Systematic recovery of the text began during the Renaissance. In the late 20th century, substantial fragments of the poem were recovered following the discovery of the Oxyrhynchus Papyri. Source: Wikipedia (en)

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