The Poet and Scholar Callimachus of Cyrene


Kelly Macquire
by and
published on 04 October 2023

Did you know that the prototype of a library’s card catalog was invented over 2000 years ago by Callimachus of Cyrene? This video is all about the great scholar and poet Callimachus of Cyrene who revolutionized library science and literature.

Callimachus of Cyrene (l. c. 310-c. 240 BCE) was a poet and scholar associated with the Library of Alexandria and best known for his Pinakes ("Tablets"), a bibliographic catalog of Greek literature, his poetry, and his literary aesthetic which rejected the epic in favor of shorter works and influenced the later development of Roman literature.

He is considered one of the greatest poets of antiquity, and, through his influence on Roman writers, set the course for Western literary development, especially through his emphasis on brevity and simplicity of form. Among his best-known quotes is "A big book is a big bore," by which he seems to have meant that "less is more" and one should strive to tell one's story as directly and succinctly as possible. Although much has been made of his rejection of Homer, it seems this has been sensationalized. He rejected the standard of literature Homer had come to define but not necessarily the work itself. A similar case could be made for his relationship with the works of Plato, but both authors clearly influenced his own works.



0:00​ Introduction
0:48 Who is Callimachus of Cyrene?
1:38 Life & Work of Callimachus
5:51 Impact & Legacy of Callimachus
7:53 Outro

Callimachus of Cyrene
Library of Alexandria
What happened to the Great Library at Alexandria?

The Life of Tudor Queen Elizabeth I of England
The Spanish Armada vs. The Royal Navy of Elizabeth I
The Real History of the Library of Alexandria
The Birthplace of Western Philosophy - History of Ionia

You can find all attribution and credits for images, animations, graphics and music here -

The music used in this recording is the intellectual copyright of Michael Levy, a prolific composer for the recreated lyres of antiquity, and used with the creator's permission. Michael Levy's music is available to stream at all the major digital music platforms. Find out more on:

World History Encyclopedia

#History #ancienthistory #library #books #ancient

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About the Author

Kelly Macquire
Kelly is a graduate from Monash University who has completed her BA (Honours) in Ancient History and Archaeology, focussing on iconography and status in Pylos burials. She has a passion for mythology and the Aegean Bronze Age.

Cite This Work

APA Style

Macquire, K. (2023, October 04). The Poet and Scholar Callimachus of Cyrene. World History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from

Chicago Style

Macquire, Kelly. "The Poet and Scholar Callimachus of Cyrene." World History Encyclopedia. Last modified October 04, 2023.

MLA Style

Macquire, Kelly. "The Poet and Scholar Callimachus of Cyrene." World History Encyclopedia. World History Encyclopedia, 04 Oct 2023. Web. 18 Jun 2024.