The Neoterikoi (Greek νεωτερικοί "new poets") or Neoterics were a series of avant-garde Greek and Latin poets who wrote during the Hellenistic period (323–31 BC). Neoteric poets deliberately turned away from classical Homeric epic poetry. Rather than focusing on the feats of ancient heroes and gods, they propagated a new style of poetry through stories that operated on a smaller scale in themes and setting. The time range in which these poets wrote is sometimes called the Neoteric period.
Although the poems of the Neoterics may seem to address superficial subjects, they are viewed as subtle and accomplished works of art.
The most famous of these were the Alexandrian Greeks, Callimachus, the author of many epigrams, and Theocritus, a bucolic poet from Sicily. Also of note is the poet Sappho, who served as a great influence to Catullus, both stylistically & thematically. Catullus even named Lesbia, the lover he frequently addresses in his works, after the Greek isle Sappho lived on: Lesbos.
Influenced by the Greek Neoterics, the Latin Neoterics or poetae novi (writing in the 1st century BC) rejected traditional social and literary norms. Their poetry is characterized by tight construction, a playful use of genre, punning, and complex allusions. The most significant surviving Latin Neoteric is Catullus. The modern edition of his works derives from a single codex, which appeared in the 14th century in his hometown of Verona, but now is lost. His poetry exemplifies the elegant vocabulary, meter, and sound which the Neoterics sought, while balancing it with the equally important allusive element of their style.
Latin poets normally classified as neoterics are Catullus and his fellow poets such as Helvius Cinna, Publius Valerius Cato, Marcus Furius Bibaculus, Quintus Cornificius, etc. Some neoteric stylistic features can also be seen in the works of Virgil, who was one generation younger than the poetae novi. They were occasionally the subject of scorn from older, more traditionally minded Romans such as Cicero.
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