Spurius Afranius
Spurius Afranius
3 October 2022, 10:08

Alcaeus - the first and greatest lyric poet of the ancient world

Alcaeus - the first and greatest lyric poet of the ancient world
We continue the story about the pillars of ancient Greek poetry. After Homer and Hesiod, Alcaeus is considered the next greatest poet. Alexandrian grammarians included him among the 9 most prominent poets of Ancient Greece. The range of his lyrical works is wide, but can be reduced to 5 classes, namely love lyrics, hymns to the gods, drinking songs, works related to political struggle or war, and others, for example, descriptions of nature. Alcaeus was born on the island of Lesbos around 625 BC. He came from an aristocratic family. It was a very dynamic time when, after the overthrow of the royal power, representatives of aristocrats, demos (democrats), as well as various tyrants who sought to establish sole power, fought for control over the islands and the city of Mytilene. In addition, Lesbos waged a fierce struggle against Athens, who sought to subdue him. The vicissitudes of the political struggle often led Alcaeus into exile. Homesickness and impressions of the host countries served as additional sources of inspiration for his poems. Having suffered a final defeat in the fight against the new ruler of the island, Pittacus, one of the 7 recognized wise men of Ancient Greece, he was forgiven by the latter and remained on his native island, continuing his literary work and living to an advanced age. The line from Alkey's poetry “No wall can protect the city better than courage” fits the modern situation in Ukraine as well as possible.
Bust of Alcaeus on a modern Greek 10 euro coin
Bust of Alcaeus on a modern Greek 10 euro coin


Mytilene,island of Lesvos, modern view
Mytilene,island of Lesvos, modern view

Mytilene,island of Lesvos, modern view
Mytilene,island of Lesvos, modern view

Alcaeus and Sappho, Red-figure vase, 470 BC
Alcaeus and Sappho, Red-figure vase, 470 BC

Критский шлем, 7 век до н.э.,
Критский шлем, 7 век до н.э.,

Критский шлем, 7 век до н.э.,
Критский шлем, 7 век до н.э.,

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