Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

John Noonan, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

John Campbell, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Niki Kantzios, Ph.D.


Epyllion, Mythology, Hellenism, Medea, Theseus


Two of the best known examples of the Hellenistic epyllion are the Hecale by Callimachus and poem 64 by Catullus. Both poems feature Theseus, a traditional hero whose mythology dates to Homer and Hesiod. Callimachus chose an episode from the Theseus tradition which highlighted his positive side, while Catullus picked a chapter from the mythic stores which put him in the worst possible light. This paper will examine the two poet's use of mythological material - how they suppressed, included and altered the earlier traditions - to make their very antithetical cases for Theseus. In addition to Theseus, I will examine other myths to determine if their treatment of these is consistent or at odds with their handling of Theseus. The thesis of this paper is that Callimachus had a program to present the Greek heroes of old in a favorable light and Catullus's agenda was to display their flaws. This paper will suggest that the reason for their differing viewpoints can be found, at least partly, in the contemporary historical context in which they respectively wrote.