He may have taken part in the war between Ephesus and Magnesia on the Maeander, since he so elequently describes it. This must have happened before 727 BC, since Magnesia was destroyed by the Treres, a Cimmerian tribe.
He also mentions the destruction of Sardis by the Cimmerians in 678 BC
Only a few fragments of the poetry of Callinus have survived. One of the longest such fragments, consisting of 21 lines of verse, is a patriotic elegy to his fellow Ephesians urging them to fight the invading Cimmerians, who were menacing the Greek colonies in Asia Minor: "It is honourable to fight for city and family, death finds everyone." He used his elegiac poetry as a means of propaganda and patriotism.