It is said that in Ephesus, in the 1st century, a young man (Callimachus) falls in love-- well, lust, really-- for Drusiana, a married woman who has taken a vow of chastity. When he reveals his intentions, she prays for death to avoid scandal and preserve her chastity, and dies. Her husband, Andronicus, and St. John bury her that very day. Callimachus bribes the guard at the tomb to give him her body. Alone at last with the dead woman, he "embraces" her, and falls dead himself. Andronicus and St. John have a vision of Christ, who suggests that they resurrect both Drusiana and Callimachus. They do, and Callimachus repents his evil ways and becomes a good Christian.

This story appears in the apocrypha version of the Acts of the Apostles, specifically the Acts of John. It became a big hit when Hroswitha opened her play of the same name at Gandersheim in the 10th century.

The more famous Callimachus was a poet and librarian who lived in the third century BCE, possibly the best poet of the Hellenistic period.

He was born in Cyrene in Libya around 310, the son of Battus; educated at Athens, under Hermocrates of Iasos; and moved to Egypt to work first as a schoolmaster then at the Library of Alexandria, where he prepared a detailed critical catalogue of their collection, called the Pinakes. (He is sometimes named as Head Librarian but was probably not.) He died around 240.

As a poet his largest work was the Aitia or 'Causes', a study of local religious traditions. Papyrus fragments of this have been found in the diggings at Oxyrhyncus. He was very popular among the Romans, but much of his work was lost in the Byzantine Empire in the thirteenth century. Today only six literary hymns in hexameters and elegiacs, and sixty-four epigrams survive whole. He was little regarded for some years, with his fortunes reviving in the seventeenth century. His brief, polished style was regarded as difficult.

He engaged in a famous literary feud with the epic-writer Apollonius of Rhodes, with Callimachus being in favour of brevity. His comment on this became proverbial: mega biblion mega kakon. A big book is a big evil. However, C.S. Lewis once said that Callimachus was a big prig. And Callimachus did write some other long works, including the court-flattery Lock of Berenice (imitated by Catullus), and fragments survive of Hecale (a minor incident from the Theseus story), and Iamboi (in which he assumes the character of the satirical poet Hipponax).

Callimachus is most famous for his little sketches, epitaphs, and observations, collectively known as epigrams; and the most famous of these is the one to his friend Heraclitus of Halicarnassus (not the famous philosopher of several centuries before). This is quoted in the Heraclitus node in both Greek and the familiar nineteenth-century English version by William Cory, but as I think they belong here I've taken the liberty of copying them.

Eipe tis, Hêrakleite, teon moron, es de me dakru
êgagen; emnêsthên d' hossakis amphoteroi
hêlion en leskhêi katedusamen; alla su men pou,
xein' Halikarnêsseu, tetrapalai spodiê.

They told me, Heraclitus, they told me you were dead,
They brought me bitter news to hear and bitter tears to shed.
I wept as I remember'd how often you and I
Had tired the sun with talking and sent him down the sky.

And now that thou art lying, my dear old Carian guest,
A handful of grey ashes, long, long ago at rest,
Still are thy pleasant voices, thy nightingales, awake;
For Death, he taketh all away, but them he cannot take.

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