Quintus Smyrnaeus (Greek Κόϊντος Σμυρναῖος ), Greek epic poet, probably flourished in the latter part of the 4th century AD. He is sometimes called Quintus Calaber, because the only manuscript of his poem was discovered at Otranto in Calabria by Cardinal Bessarion in 1450.
According to his own account (xii. 310), he tried his hand at poetry in his early youth, while tending sheep at Smyrna (present-day Izmir). His epic in fourteen books, known as Posthomerica, takes up the tale of Troy at the point where Homer's Iliad breaks off (the death of Hector), and carries it down to the capture of the city by the Greeks.
The first five books, which cover the same ground as the Aethiopis of Arctinus of Miletus, describe the doughty deeds and deaths of Penthesileia the Amazon, of Memnon, son of the Morning, and of Achilles; the funeral games in honour of Achilles, the contest for the arms of Achilles and the death of Ajax. The remaining books relate the exploits of Neoptolemus, Eurypylus and Deiphobus, the deaths of Paris and Oenone, the capture of Troy by means of the wooden horse, the sacrifice of Polyxena at the grave of Achilles, the departure of the Greeks, and their dispersal by the storm.
The poet has no originality; in conception and style his work is closely modelled on Homer. His materials are borrowed from the cyclic poems from which Virgil (with whose works he was probably acquainted) also drew, in particular the Aethiopis of Arctinus and the Little Iliad of Lesches.
Editio princeps by Aldus Manutius (1504); Kochly (ed. major with elaborate prolegomena, 1850; ed. minor, 1853); Z Zimmermann (author of other valuable articles on the poet), (1891); see also Kehrnptzov, De Quinti Smyrnaei Fontibus ad Mythopolia (1889); CA Sainte-Beuve, Etude sur . . . Quinte de Smyrne (1857); FA Paley, Quintus Smyrnaeus and the "Homer" of the tragic Poets (1879); GW Paschal, A Study of Quintus Smyrnaeus (Chicago, 1904).
This entry was originally from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
That is typical of how Quintus has been treated for the last century or so, but more recently there has been a renewed interest in the poet and his poem. His date is controversial but probably much earlier than the 4th c. suggested above; 3rd or even 2nd c. is more likely, given the poem's connections to the Second Sophistic. In the last several decades a new edition of the text with partial commentary and French translation has been done by Francis Vian (published by Bude); Combellack has published an English translation (now in print only through Barnes and Noble); Alan James and Kevin Lee have done a detailed commentary on book 5; and Alan James has done what is by far the best English translation so far, with newly edited text and commentary.
The Fall of Troy by Quintus Smyrnaeus
How died for Troy the Queen of the Amazons, Penthesileia.
How Memnon, Son of the Dawn, for Troy's sake fell in the Battle
How by the shaft of a God laid low was Hero Achilles.
How in the Funeral Games of Achilles heroes contended.
How the Arms of Achilles were cause of madness and death unto Aias.
How came for the helping of Troy Eurypylus, Hercules' grandson
How the Son of Achilles was brought to the War from the Isle of Scyros
How Hercules' Grandson perished in fight with the Son of Achilles
How from his long lone exile returned to the war Philoctetes.
How Paris was stricken to death, and in vain sought help of Oenone
How the sons of Troy for the last time fought from her walls and her towers.
How the Wooden Horse was fashioned, and brought into Troy by her people
How Troy in the night was taken and sacked with fire and slaughter.
How the conquerors sailed from Troy unto judgment of tempest and shipwreck.
Medieval Greece / Byzantine Empire
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