Alcaeus ălsēˈəs [key], c.620–c.580 b.c., Greek lyric poet of Lesbos. An aristocrat, he was often embroiled in political battles with the ruling tyrants. He wrote drinking songs, hymns, love songs, and political odes. He was, according to tradition, a close associate of Sappho. The Alcaic strophe (a four-line stanza) said to be his invention was much used by Greek lyrists and greatly admired by Horace who employed it with slight modification.

See D. Page, Sappho and Alcaeus (1955); H. Martin, Alcaeus (1972); A. P. Burnett, Three Archaic Poets (1983).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Classical Literature: Biographies