Philitas of Cos (/fɪˈlaɪtəs/; Greek: Φιλίτας ὁ Κῷος, Philītas ho Kōos; c. 340 – c. 285 BC), sometimes spelled Philetas (/faɪˈliːtəs/; Φιλήτας, Philētas; see Bibliography below), was a scholar and poet during the early Hellenistic period of ancient Greece. A Greek associated with Alexandria, he flourished in the second half of the 4th century BC and was appointed tutor to the heir to the throne of Ptolemaic Egypt. He was thin and frail; Athenaeus later caricatured him as an academic so consumed by his studies that he wasted away and died. Philitas was the first major Greek writer who was both a scholar and a poet. His reputation continued for centuries, based on both his pioneering study of words and his verse in elegiac meter. His vocabulary Disorderly Words described the meanings of rare literary words, including those used by Homer. His poetry, notably his elegiac poem Demeter, was highly respected by later ancient poets. However, almost all his work has since been lost.
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