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Apollonius Rhodius' epic poem, the Argonautica, is one of the most important and influential literary productions of the Hellenistic period. This book shows how the retelling of a heroic adventure set in the generation before the Trojan War engages the political, religious, and ethical dynamics of its day by alluding to the real-world context of the early Ptolemaic dynasty as well as to poetic and other models. Through a hegemonic typology that ranges from the just and theocratic to the duplicitous and lawless, Apollonius characterizes the political heirs of Alexander the Great as pious, civilized rulers. This interpretation goes beyond previous studies by examining the political resonance of religious activity in the poem, and by relating these formulations (especially where they concern Apollonius' departures from his literary predecessors) to the ideological construction of Hellenic identity in third-century Egypt.
anatole Mori is Associate Professor of Classics at the University of Missouri - Columbia.