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Philetas of Cos, Alexandrian poet and critic, flourished in the second half of the 4th century BC.

He was tutor to the son of Ptolemy I of Egypt, and also taught Theocritus and the grammarian Zenodotus. His thinness made him an object of ridicule; according to the comic poets, he carried lead in his shoes to keep himself from being blown away. Over-study of Megarian dialectic subtleties is said to have shortened his life.

His elegies, chiefly of an amatory nature and singing the praises of his mistress Battis (or Bittis), were much admired by the Romans. He is frequently mentioned by Ovid and Propertius, the latter of whom imitated him and preferred him to his rival Callimachus, whose superior mythological lore was more to the taste of the Alexandrian critics. Philetas was also the author of a vocabulary called "Aro/cra, explaining the meanings of rare and obscure words, including words peculiar to certain dialects; and of notes on Homer, severely criticized by Aristarchus.

Fragments edited by N Bach (1828), and Theodor Bergk, Poetae lyrici graeci; see also EW Maass, De tribus Philetae carminibus (1895).

See also

Alexandrian School


This entry incorporates public domain text originally from the 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica.

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