Alcman

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Alcman (also Alkman, Greek Ἀλκμάν) (7th century BC) was an Ancient Greek choral lyric poet from Sparta. He is the earliest representative of the Alexandrinian canon of the nine lyric poets.

Contents

Biography

Family

The name of Alcman's mother is not known but his father may have been named either Damas or Titarus.[1]

Origin

Alcman's nationality was a matter of dispute even in ancient days. Unfortunately, the vitae of the ancient authors were often deduced from biographic readings of their poetry and the details are often untrustworthy. Antipater of Thessalonica wrote that poets have "many mothers" and that the continents of Europe and Asia both claimed Alcman as their son.[2] Frequently assumed to have been born in Sardis, capital of ancient Lydia, the Suda claims that Alcman was actually a Laconian from Messoa.[3] The compositeness of his dialect may have helped to maintain the uncertainty of his origins, but the many references to Lydian and Asian culture in Alcman's poetry must have played a considerable role in the tradition of Alcman's Lydian origin. Thus, Alcman claims he learned his skills from the "strident partridges" (caccabides),[4] a bird native to Asia Minor and not naturally found in Greece. The ancient scholars seemed to have referred to one particular song, in which the chorus says:[5]

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