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This starts because I remembered that he works of one of the classical Greek philosophers was lost, but what was kept was an adaptation of the work into poetic form.

This is highly unlikely in the present, as nobody uses poetry nowadays or in modernity, to keep knowledge such as the Kepler laws. I wanted to know a bit more about the significance of this practice by highlighting one example where only the poetic form of a scientific/astronomical/scientific text from antiquity was kept. That might, or might not, indicate the significance and resilience of poetry as a mnemonic device and as a receptacle of knowledge, as opposed to the original technical text.

I looked at the trend of translating philosophical works to poetry form for mnemonic reasons but I could not find anything in a search.

Also, possible candidates for these works are Euclid, Archimedes, and Pythagoras as their works where translated in many forms. But most likely these are not the ones, as these have their works kept in more than poetry form.

Parmenides is also a candidate, but he is the author of a famous metaphysical poem. So probably not him as the original work was already in poetic form.

Empedocles similarly could be an option but he composed two poems, On Nature and the Purifications. So again not the poetry form was the one to survive, it was already written as a poem.

I also remember that the poet who adapted the work, or the author himself, was from Magna Grecia. But I am not so sure about this part.

Thanks in advance and apologise if I am misremembering some of the info here.

Likely answer

From @José's answer and @njuffa comment, Aratus poem on Eudoxus might be it. As what I remember is that both authors are greek.

But Lucretius, as @Mozibur points out, might also fit the bill. Maybe I heard both of them being used as examples of poetry as a mnemonic device that kept other works, even scientific/astronomical/mathematical ones.

That part of the question is the most relevant one, as I was trying to see how in classical antiquity knowledge was kept, and I wanted either one specific example or a scenario in which this happened.

In any case, I'll accept José's answer as the one that bests fits what i was describing, many thanks all!

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    Without more concrete memories, this is going to be tricky... Commented Aug 4, 2023 at 2:51
  • This one? From Wikipedia: "Aratus ([..] c. 315 BC/310 BC – 240) was a Greek didactic poet. His major extant work is his hexameter poem Phenomena [...] the first half of which is a verse setting of a lost work of the same name by Eudoxus of Cnidus". That would be Asia Minor, though, not Magna Graecia.
    – njuffa
    Commented Aug 4, 2023 at 9:56
  • from José's answer and njuffa comment Aratus poem on Eudoxus might be it. As what i remember is that both autors are greek. But Lucretius, as Mozibur point sout, might also fit the bill. Maybe i heard both of them being used as examples of poetry as a mnemonic device that kept other works, even scientific/astronomical/mathematical ones. In any case, I'll accept José's answer as the one that bests fits what i was describing, many thanks all!
    – fffff
    Commented Aug 6, 2023 at 22:52

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Perhaps that it's Hipparchus that you have in mind. Although he supposedly wrote fourteen works, the only one of his texts that we still have is Commentary on the Phaenomena of Eudoxus and Aratus, which consists of a highly critical commentary in the form of two books on a popular poem by Aratus based on the work on Astronomy by Eudoxus.

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If you're unsure whether the poet himself was from Magna Grecia perhaps Lucretious fits the bill? He is a Roman poet adapted what was known at the time of the work by Democritus, Leucippus and Epicurus into De Rerum Natura (On the Nature of Things), a Latin poem written in the first century BC. He is known as a poet but given he wrote this, one might as well call him a philosopher too - or a philosopher-poet.

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