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date: 17 July 2024


, lyric poet


, lyric poet
  • C. Carey


Alcaeus (1) lyric poet, of *Mytilene on Lesbos. Probably born c.625–620 bce, since he was old enough to participate in the struggle against Athens for *Sigeum in the Troad in the last decade of the century in which *Pittacus distinguished himself (fr. 428; Hdt. 5. 95; Diog. Laert. 1. 74; Strabo 13. 1. 38). Lesbian politics at this period were violent and confused. The ruling dynasty, the Penthilidae, who traced their descent from *Orestes, were weakened and finally overthrown by two successive coups (Arist. Pol. 1311b26, 29). Power passed to a tyrant named Melanchrus, who was overthrown by a faction headed by Pittacus and Alcaeus' brothers c.612–609 (Suda, entry under Πιττακός; Diog. Laert. 1. 74); Alcaeus (perhaps too young—fr. 75) was not involved (Diog. Laert. 1. 74). A new tyrant, Myrsilus, emerged, who was opposed unsuccessfully by a faction of exiles including Pittacus and Alcaeus (frs. 129, 114); Pittacus subsequently allied himself with Myrsilus, while his former comrades continued the struggle in exile (frs. 129, 70). After Myrsilus' death the people elected Pittacus *aisymnētēs (dictator) to ward off Alcaeus' faction (frs.


  • Greek Literature

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