, an ancient lyric poet, was born at Mytilene, the capital of Lesbos, according to Eusebius, in the 44th | olympiad, or in the year 604 B. C.; and was consequently the countryman and contemporary of Sappho, with whom he is said to have been violently enamoured. A verse in which he insinuated his passion, with her answer, is preserved in Aristotle, Rhet. lib. 1. cap. 9. He was born with a restless and turbulent disposition, and seemed at first inclined to adopt the profession of arms, which he preferred to every other pursuit. His house was filled with swords, helmets, shields, and cuirasses; but on his first essay in the field he shamefully fled, and the Athenians, after their victory, branded him with disgrace, by suspending his arms in the temple of Minerva at Sigseum. He made great pretensions to the love of liberty, but was suspected of harbouring a secret wish for its destruction. With his brothers, he first joined Pittacus, to expel Melanchrus, tyrant of Mytilene, and then took part with the malcontents to subvert the government of Pittacus, on whom he lavished the grossest epithets of personal abuse. At length he attacked Pittacus in a pitched battle, and his party being defeated, he became the prisoner of Pittacus, who generously gave him his life and liberty. After the failure of his political enterprizes he travelled into Egypt, but when he died is uncertain.

He is generally allowed to have been one of the greatest lyric poets of antiquity, and as he lived before the separation of the twin-sisters, poetry and music, he was probably the friend and favourite of both. His numerous poems, on different subjects, were written in the Æolian dialect, and chiefly in a measure of his own invention, which has ever since been distinguished by the name of Alcaic. He composed hymns, odes, and epigrams, upon very different subjects; sometimes railing at tyrants, and singing their downfall; sometimes his own military exploits; his misfortunes; his sufferings at sea; his exile; and all, according to Quintilian, in a manner so chaste, concise, magnificent, and sententious, and so nearly approaching to that of Homer, that he well merited the golden plectrum bestowed upon him by Horace:

“Et te sonantem plenius aureo,

Alcæe, plectro.”

Sometimes he descended to less serious subjects, as the praises of Bacchus, Venus, &c.; but these were thought inferior tp his other poems. His genius, it is also said, required to be stimulated by intemperance, and it was in a | kind of intoxication that he composed his best pieces. Of all his works, however, there are only a few fragments preserved by Athenaeus and Suidas, and printed by Henry Stephens at the end of his Pindar, among the “Poet. Lyric, diversarum editionum,Geneva, 1623, tbi. and 12mo, and in the “Corpus Poetarum” of Maittaire, fol. 1714. 1


Vossius de Poet Gr.—Fabric. Bibl. Græc.—Travels of Anaeharsis, vol. II.— Journey’s Hist, of Music, vol. I.—Gen. Dict.