Anacreon (Greek lyric poet) [Anakreon]
- Warren Anderson
- , revised by Thomas J. Mathiesen
(b Teos, c.570 bce; d 490 or 485 bce). Greek lyric poet. An Ionian by birth and upbringing, he spent his professional life in the service of Polycrates, tyrant of Samos, and later at Athens under the patronage of Peisistratus’s son Hipparchus. His poetry reflects the gay, sophisticated atmosphere of the courts where he was musical arbiter; underlying it is the cultural heritage of his native Ionia, especially the distinctive tradition of lighthearted monody.
Although the writings of Anacreon include elegiac and iambic poetry as well as lyric, extant musical references occur only in the lyrics. He speaks of ‘the lovely pēktis’ and ‘the 20-string magadis’ of his homeland (Edmonds, frag.18.2–3; 19.1–2); he also mentions auloi with only three finger-holes instead of the usual six (frag.22). Critias, an early 5th-century writer (in Athenaeus, xiii, 600d), portrayed the poet himself as an antagonist of the aulos and fond of the ...