For the hummingbird, see Archilochus (genus).
Silver stater obverse Thasos Met L.1999.19.71
Coin from ancient Thasos showing Satyr and nymph, dated to late fifth century BC.
Archilochus was involved in the Parian colonization of Thasos about two centuries before the coin was minted. His poetry includes vivid accounts of life as a warrior, seafarer and lover.

Archilochus (/ɑːrˈkɪləkəs/; Greek: Ἀρχίλοχος Arkhilokhos; c. 680 – c. 645 BC)[nb 1] was a Greek lyric poet from the island of Paros in the Archaic period. He is celebrated for his versatile and innovative use of poetic meters, and is the earliest known Greek author to compose almost entirely on the theme of his own emotions and experiences.[1][2]

Alexandrian scholars included him in their canonic list of iambic poets, along with Semonides and Hipponax,[3] yet ancient commentators also numbered him with Tyrtaeus and Callinus as the possible inventor of the elegy.[4] Modern critics often characterize him simply as a lyric poet.[5] Although his work now only survives in fragments, he was revered by the ancient Greeks as one of their most brilliant authors, able to be mentioned in the same breath as Homer and Hesiod,[6] yet he was also censured by them as the archetypal poet of blame[7]—his invectives were even said to have driven his former fiancée and her father to suicide. He presented himself as a man of few illusions either in war or in love, such as in the following elegy, where discretion is seen to be the better part of valour:

Ἀσπίδι μὲν Σαΐων τις ἀγάλλεται, ἥν παρὰ θάμνῳ
ἔντος ἀμώμητον κάλλιπον οὐκ ἐθέλων·
αὐτὸν δ' ἔκ μ' ἐσάωσα· τί μοι μέλει ἀσπὶς ἐκείνη;
Ἐρρέτω· ἐξαῦτις κτήσομαι οὐ κακίω.[8]

One of the Saians (Thracian tribe) now delights in the shield I discarded
Unwillingly near a bush, for it was perfectly good,
But at least I got myself safely out. Why should I care for that shield?
Let it go. Some other time I'll find another no worse.

Archilochus was much imitated even up to Roman times and three other distinguished poets later claimed to have thrown away their shields—Alcaeus, Anacreon and Horace.[9]


The historical sources

A considerable amount of information about the life of Archilochus has come down to the modern age via his surviving work, the testimony of other authors and inscriptions on monuments,[2] yet it all needs to be viewed with caution—the biographical tradition is generally unreliable and the fragmentary nature of the poems doesn't really support inferences about his personal history.[10] The vivid language and intimate details of the poems often look autobiographical[6][11] yet it is known, on the authority of Aristotle, that Archilochus sometimes role-played. The philosopher quoted two fragments as examples of an author speaking in somebody else's voice: in one, an unnamed father commenting on a recent eclipse of the sun and, in the other, a carpenter named Charon, expressing his indifference to the wealth of Gyges, the king of Lydia.[12] There is nothing in those two fragments to suggest that Archilochus is speaking in those roles (we rely entirely on Aristotle for the context) and possibly many of his other verses involved role-playing too. It has even been suggested by one modern scholar that imaginary characters and situations might have been a feature of the poetic tradition within which Archilochus composed, known by the ancients as iambus.[13]

The two poems quoted by Aristotle help to date the poet's life (assuming of course that Charon and the unnamed father are speaking about events that Archilochus had experienced himself). Gyges reigned 687–652 BC and the date of the eclipse must have been either 6 April 648 BC or 27 June 660 BC (another date, 14 March 711 BC, is generally considered too early).[2] These dates are consistent with other evidence of the poet's chronology and reported history, such as the discovery at Thasos of a cenotaph, dated around the end of the seventh century and dedicated to a friend named in several fragments: Glaucus, son of Leptines.[14] The chronology for Archilochus is complex but modern scholars generally settle for c.680–c.640 BC.[2]

Whether or not their lives had been virtuous, authors of genius were revered by their fellow Greeks. Thus a sanctuary to Archilochus (the Archilocheion) was established on his home island Paros sometime in the third century BC, where his admirers offered him sacrifices, as well as to gods such as Apollo, Dionysus and the Muses.[6] Inscriptions found on orthostats from the sanctuary include quoted verses and historical records. In one, we are told that his father Telesicles once sent Archilochus to fetch a cow from the fields, but that the boy chanced to meet a group of women who soon vanished with the animal and left him a lyre in its place—they were the Muses and they had thus earmarked him as their protégé. According to the same inscription, the omen was later confirmed by the oracle at Delphi. Not all the inscriptions are as fanciful as that. Some are records by a local historian of the time, set out in chronological order according to custom, under the names of archons. Unfortunately, these are very fragmentary.[15]

Snippets of biographical information are provided by ancient authors as diverse as Tatian, Proclus, Clement of Alexandria, Cicero, Aelian, Plutarch, Galen, Dio Chrysostom, Aelius Aristides and several anonymous authors in the Palatine Anthology. See and other poets below for the testimony of some famous poets.

Scholarship and the biographical tradition

According to tradition, Archilochus was born to a notable family on Paros. His grandfather (or great-grandfather), Tellis, helped establish the cult of Demeter on Thasos near the end of the eighth century, a mission that was famously depicted in a painting at Delphi by the Thasian Polygnotus.[1] The painting, later described by Pausanias, showed Tellis in Hades, sharing Charon's boat with the priestess of Demeter.[nb 2] The poet's father, Telesicles, also distinguished himself in the history of Thasos, as the founder of a Parian colony there. The names 'Tellis' and 'Telesicles' can have religious connotations and some modern scholars infer that the poet was born into a priestly family devoted to Demeter. Inscriptions in the Archilocheion identify Archilochus as a key figure in the Parian cult of Dionysus[16] There is no evidence to back isolated reports that his mother was a slave, named Enipo, that he left Paros to escape poverty, or that he became a mercenary soldier—the slave background is probably inferred from a misreading of his verses; archaeology indicates that life on Paros, which he associated with "figs and seafaring", was quite prosperous; and though he frequently refers to the rough life of a soldier, warfare was a function of the aristocracy in the archaic period and there is no indication that he fought for pay.[2][nb 3]

Cumulus23 - NOAA
"Look Glaucus! Already waves are disturbing the deep sea and a cloud stands straight round about the heights of Gyrae,[nb 4] a sign of storm; from the unexpected comes fear."
The trochaic verse was quoted by the Homeric scholar Heraclitus, who said that Archilochus used the image to describe war with the Thracians.[17]

The life of Archilochus was marked by conflicts. The ancient tradition identified a Parian, Lycambes, and his daughters as the main target of his anger. The father is said to have betrothed his daughter, Neobule, to Archilochus, but reneged on the agreement, and the poet retaliated with such eloquent abuse that Lycambes, Neobule and one or both of his other daughters committed suicide.[18][19] The story later became a popular theme for Alexandrian versifiers, who played upon its poignancy at the expense of Archilochus.[nb 5] Some modern scholars believe that Lycambes and his daughters were not actually the poet's contemporaries but fictional characters in a traditional entertainment.[20] According to another view, Lycambes as an oath-breaker had marked himself out as a menace to society and the poet's invective was not just personal revenge but a social obligation consistent with the practice of 'iambos'.[21]

The inscriptions in the Archilocheion imply that the poet had a controversial role in the introduction of the cult of Dionysus to Paros. It records that his songs were condemned by the Parians as "too iambic" (the issue may have concerned phallic worship) but they were the ones who ended up being punished by the gods for impiety, possibly with impotence. The oracle of Apollo then instructed them to atone for their error and rid themselves of their suffering by honouring the poet, which led to the shrine being dedicated to him.[22][23] His hero cult lasted on Paros over 800 years.[24]

His combative spirit also expressed itself in warfare. He joined the Parian colony on Thasos and battled the indigenous Thracians, expressing himself in his poems as a cynical, hard-bitten soldier fighting for a country he doesn't love ("Thasos, thrice miserable city") on behalf of a people he scorns ("The woes [dregs] of all the Greeks have come together in Thasos"),[25] yet he values his closest comrades and their stalwart, unglamorous commander.[nb 6] Later he returned to Paros and joined the fight against the neighbouring island of Naxos. A Naxian warrior named Calondas won notoriety as the man that killed him. The Naxian's fate interested later authors such as Plutarch and Dio Chrysostom, since it had been a fair fight yet he was punished for it by the gods: he had gone to the temple of Apollo at Delphi to consult the oracle and was rebuked with the memorable words: "You killed the servant of the Muses; depart from the temple."[26]

The poet's character

Εἰμὶ δ' ἐγὼ θεράπων μὲν Ἐνυαλίοιο ἄνακτος,
καὶ Μουσέων ἐρατὸν δῶρον ἐπιστάμενος.

I am the servant of Lord Enyalios [Ares, god of war],
and skilled in the lovely gift of the Muses.[27]

This couplet testifies to a social revolution: Homer's poetry was a powerful influence on later poets and yet in Homer's day it had been unthinkable for a poet to be a warrior.[28] Archilochus deliberately broke the traditional mould even while adapting himself to it. "Perhaps there is a special relevance to his times in the particular gestures he elects to make: the abandonment of grandly heroic attitudes in favour of a new unsentimental honesty, an iconoclastic and flippant tone of voice coupled with deep awareness of traditional truths."[29]

Ancient authors and scholars often reacted to his poetry and to the biographical tradition angrily, condemning "fault-finding Archilochus" for "fattening himself on harsh words of hatred" (see Pindar's comment below) and for "the unseemly and lewd utterances directed towards women", whereby he made "a spectacle of himself" (Plutarch de curiositate 10.520a-b).[30] He was considered "...a noble poet in other respects if one were to take away his foul mouth and slanderous speech and wash them away like a stain" (Suda).[31] According to Valerius Maximus, the Spartans banished the works of Archilochus from their state for the sake of their children "...lest it harm their morals more than it benefited their talents."[32] Yet some ancient scholars interpreted his motives more sympathetically:

"For of the two poets who for all time deserve to be compared with no other, namely Homer and Archilochus, Homer praised nearly everything...But Archilochus went to the opposite extreme, to censure, seeing, I suppose, that men are in greater need of this, and first of all he censures himself...", thus winning for himself "...the highest commendation from heaven."—Dio Chrysostom[33]


The earliest meter in extant Greek poetry was the epic hexameter of Homer. Homer did not create the epic hexameter, however, and there is evidence that other meters also predate his work.[nb 7] Thus, though ancient scholars credited Archilochus with the invention of elegy and iambic poetry, he probably built on a "flourishing tradition of popular song" that pre-dated Homer. His innovations however seem to have turned a popular tradition into an important literary medium.[29]

His merits as a poet were neatly summarized by the rhetorician Quintilian:

"We find in him the greatest force of expression, sententious statements that are not only vigorous but also terse and vibrant, and a great abundance of vitality and energy, to the extent that in the view of some his inferiority to anyone results from a defect of subject matter rather than poetic genius.—Quintilian[34]

Ringed kingfisher hornopiren chile feb 2010 2
"A kingfisher flapped its wings on a protruding rock"—Archilochus fr. 41[35]
The poet, "a frank celebrant of sex",[36] found various ways to describe sexual relations, including allusions. Here the rock is a phallic symbol and the kingfisher represents a female partner.[37]

Most ancient commentators focused on his lampoons and on the virulence of his invective[38] as in the comments below, yet the extant verses (most of which come from Egyptian papyri[39]) indicate a very wide range of poetic interests. Alexandrian scholars collected the works of the other two major iambographers, Semonides and Hipponax, in just two books each, which were cited by number, whereas Archilochus was edited and cited not by book number but rather by poetic terms such as 'elegy', 'trimeters', 'tetrameters' and 'epodes'.[40] Moreover, even those terms fail to indicate his versatility:

"...not all his iambic and trochaic poetry was invective. In his elegiacs we find neat epigrams, consolatory poems and a detailed prediction of battle; his trochaics include a cry for help in war, an address to his troubled soul and lines on the ideal commander; in his iambics we find an enchanting description of a girl and Charon the carpenter's rejection of tyranny."[23]

One convenient way to classify the poems is to divide them between elegy and iambus (ἵαμβος)—elegy aimed at some degree of decorum, since it employed the stately hexameter of epic, whereas the term 'iambus', as used by Alexandrian scholars, denoted any informal kind of verse meant to entertain (it may have included the iambic meter but was not confined to it). Hence the accusation that he was "too iambic" (see Biography) referred not to his choice of meter but his subject matter and tone (for an example of his iambic verse see Strasbourg papyrus). Elegy was accompanied by the aulos or pipe, whereas the performance of iambus varied, from recitation or chant in iambic trimeter and trochaic tetrameter, to singing of epodes accompanied by some musical instrument (which one isn't known)[41]

Archilochus was not included in the canonic list of nine lyric poets compiled by Hellenistic scholars—his range exceeded their narrow criteria for lyric ('lyric' meant verse accompanied by the lyre). He did in fact compose some lyrics but only the tiniest fragments of these survive today. However they include one of the most famous of all lyric utterances, a hymn to Heracles with which victors were hailed at the Olympic Games, featuring a resounding refrain Τήνελλα καλλίνικε in which the first word imitates the sound of the lyre.[23] [nb 8]


Like other archaic Greek poets, Archilochus relied heavily on Homer's example for his choice of language, particularly when using the same meter, dactylic hexameter (as for example in elegy), but even in other meters the debt is apparent—in the verse below, for example, his address to his embattled soul or spirit, θυμέ, has Homeric echoes.[nb 9] The meter below is trochaic tetrameter catalectic (four pairs of trochees with the final syllable omitted), a form later favoured by Athenian dramatists because of its running character, expressing aggression and emotional intensity.[42] The comic poet Aristophanes employed it for the arrival on stage of an enraged chorus in The Knights, but Archilochus uses it here to communicate the need for emotional moderation. His use of the meter isn't intentionally ironic, however, since he didn't share the tidy functionalism of later theorists, for whom different meters and verse-forms were endowed with distinctive characters suited to different tasks—his use of meter is "neutral in respect of ethos".[23] The following verse is indicative too of the fragmentary nature of Archilochus's extant work: lines 2 and 3 are probably corrupted and modern scholars have tried to emend them in various ways, none satisfactory, though the general meaning is clear.[43]

θυμέ, θύμ᾽ ἀμηχάνοισι κήδεσιν κυκώμενε,
ἄνα δέ, δυσμενέων δ᾽ ἀλέξευ προσβαλὼν ἐναντίον
στέρνον, ἐν δοκοῖσιν ἐχθρῶν πλησίον κατασταθείς
ἀσφαλέως· καὶ μήτε νικῶν ἀμφαδὴν ἀγάλλεο
μηδὲ νικηθεὶς ἐν οἴκωι καταπεσὼν ὀδύρεο.
ἀλλὰ χαρτοῖσίν τε χαῖρε καὶ κακοῖσιν ἀσχάλα
μὴ λίην· γίνωσκε δ᾽ οἷος ῥυσμὸς ἀνθρώπους ἔχει.

My Soul, my Soul, all disturbed by sorrows inconsolable,
Bear up, hold out, meet front-on the many foes that rush on you
Now from this side and now that, enduring all such strife up close,
Never wavering; and should you win, don't openly exult,
Nor, defeated, throw yourself lamenting in a heap at home,
But delight in things that are delightful and, in hard times, grieve
Not too much—appreciate the rhythm that controls men's lives.

Recent discoveries

P.Oxy. VI 854
A small papyrus scrap first published in 1908 which is derived from the same ancient manuscript of Archilochus that yielded the most recent discovery (P.Oxy. VI 854, 2nd century CE).

Thirty previously unknown lines by Archilochus, in the elegiac meter, describing events leading up to the Trojan War, in which Achaeans battled Telephus king of Mysia, have recently been identified among the Oxyrhynchus Papyri and published in The Oxyrhynchus Papyri, Volume LXIX (Graeco-Roman Memoirs 89).[45]

A discovery of a fragment of writing by Archilochus contained a citation of a proverb that was important to the proper interpretation of an Akkadian-language letter from the emperor of the Old Assyrian Empire, Shamshi-Adad I, with the same proverb: "'The bitch by her acting too hastily brought forth the blind.'"[46]


  • "Keep some measure in the joy you take in luck, and the degree you give way to sorrow." (fragment 67, tr. Richmond Lattimore)[47]
  • "Πόλλ᾽ οἶδ᾽ ἀλώπηξ, ἀλλ' ἐχῖνος ἕν μέγα." (The fox knows many things; the hedgehog one big thing.)[48] - see Isaiah Berlin's The Hedgehog and the Fox


  1. ^ While these have been the generally accepted dates since Felix Jacoby, "The Date of Archilochus," Classical Quarterly 35 (1941) 97–109, some scholars disagree; Robin Lane Fox, for instance, in Travelling Heroes: Greeks and Their Myths in the Epic Age of Homer (London: Allen Lane, 2008, ISBN 978-0-7139-9980-8), p. 388, dates him c. 740–680 BC.
  2. ^ "Tellis appears to be in his late teens, Cleoboea as still a girl and she has on her knees a chest of the sort that they are accustomed to make for Demeter. With regard to Tellis I heard only that he was the grandfather of Archilochus and they say that Cleoboea was the first to introduce the rites of Demeter to Thasos from Paros."—Pausanias 10.28.3, translated by Douglas E. Gerber, Greek Iambic Poetry, Loeb (1999) page 75
  3. ^ The name 'Enipo' has connotations of abuse (enipai), which is curiously apt for the mother of a famous iambographer—see M. L. West, Studies in Early greek Elegy and Iambus, Berlin and New York (1974), page 28
  4. ^ A promontoty on Tenos or a mythological allusion to the rocks on which the Lesser Ajax met his death—Douglas E. Gerber, Greek Iambic Poetry, Loeb (1999) note 1 page 145
  5. ^ Elegies include the following by a certain Dioscorides, in which the victims are imagined to speak from the grave: "We here, the daughters of Lycambes who gained a hateful reputation, swear by the reverence in which this tomb of the dead is held that we did not shame our virginity or our parents or Paros, pre-eminent among holy islands, but Archilochus spewed forth frightful reproach and a hateful report against our family. We swear by the gods and spirits that we did not set eyes on Archilochus either in the streets or in Hera's great precinct. If we had been lustful and wicked, he would have not wanted to beget legitimate children from us."—Palatine Anthology 7.351, cited and translated by Douglas E. Gerber, Greek Iambic Poetry, Loeb (1999) page 49
  6. ^ "I have no liking for a general who is tall, walks with a swaggering gait, takes pride in his curls, and is partly shaven. Let mine be one who is short, has a bent look about the shins, stands firmly on his feet, and is full of courage."—Fragment 114, cited and translated by Douglas E. Gerber, Greek Iambic Poetry, Loeb (1999) page 153
  7. ^ See for example the Iliad 1.472–474; 16.182–183; 18.493 (Jeffrey M. Hurwit, The Art and Culture of Early Greece).
  8. ^ Τήνελλα καλλίνικε,
    χαῖρ' ἄναξ Ἡράκλεες,
    αὐτός τε καὶ Ἰόλαος, αἰχμητὰ δύο.
    Τήνελλα καλλίνικε
    χαῖρ' ἄναξ Ἡράκλεες.
  9. ^ See Odyssey 20.18 ff, Iliad 22.98–99 and 22.122 (David A. Campbell, Greek Lyric Poetry, Bristol Classical Press (1982) pages 153–154)


  1. ^ a b J. P. Barron and P. E. Easterling, 'Elegy and Iambus', in The Cambridge History of Classical Literature: Greek Literature, P.Easterling and B.Knox (ed.s), Cambridge University Press (1985), page 117
  2. ^ a b c d e David A. Campbell, Greek Lyric Poetry, Bristol Classical Press (1982) page 136
  3. ^ Sophie Mills, 'Archilochus', in Encyclopaedia of Ancient Greece, Nigel Wilson (ed.), Routledge (2006) page 76
  4. ^ Didymus ap. Orion, Et.Mag. p. 57, Scholiast on Ar.Birds 217, cited by J. P. Barron and P. E. Easterling, 'Elegy and Iambus' in The Cambridge History of Classical Literature: Greek Literature, ed.s P.Easterling and B.Knox, Cambridge University Press (1985), n. 1 page 129
  5. ^ Rayor, Diane J, Sappho's Lyre: Archaic Lyric and Women Poets of Ancient Greece (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991, ISBN 978-0-520-07336-4)
  6. ^ a b c J. P. Barron and P. E. Easterling, 'Elegy and Iambus', in The Cambridge History of Classical Literature: Greek Literature, P.Easterling and B.Knox (ed.s), Cambridge University Press (1985), page 118
  7. ^ Christopher G. Brown, 'Introduction' to Douglas E. Gerber's A companion to the Greek Lyric Poets, Brill (1997) page 49
  8. ^ Fragment 5, cited by Douglas E. Gerber, Greek Iambic Poetry, Loeb Classical Library (1999) page 81
  9. ^ David A. Campbell, Greek Lyric Poetry, Bristol Classical Press (1982) page 145
  10. ^ Christopher G. Brown, 'Introduction' to Douglas E. Gerber's A companion to the Greek Lyric Poets, Brill (1997) page 43
  11. ^ Van Sickle, "Archilochus: A New Fragment of an Epode" The Classical Journal 71.1 (October–November 1975:1–15) p. 14.
  12. ^ Aristotle Rhetoric 3.17.1418b28, cited by Douglas E. Gerber, Greek Iambic Poetry, Loeb (1999), pages 93–95
  13. ^ M.L.West, Studies in Early Greek elegy and Iambus, Berlin and New York (1974), pages 22–39
  14. ^ Christopher G. Brown, 'Introduction' to Douglas E. Gerber's A companion to the Greek Lyric Poets, Brill (1997) pages 43–44
  15. ^ Douglas E. Gerber, Greek Iambic Poetry, Loeb Classical Library (1999) pages 16–33
  16. ^ Christopher Brown, 'Introduction' in Douglas E. Gerber, A Companion to the Greek Lyric Poets, Brill (1997), pages 45–46
  17. ^ David A. Campbell, Greek Lyric Poetry, Bristol Classical Press (1982) page 150
  18. ^ Douglas E. Gerber, Greek Iambic Poetry, Loeb (1999) page 75
  19. ^ Gerber, Douglas E., A Companion to the Greek Lyric Poets, BRILL, 1997. ISBN 90-04-09944-1. Cf. p.50
  20. ^ M. L. West, Studies in Early greek Elegy and Iambus, Berlin and New York (1974), page 27
  21. ^ Christopher Brown, 'Introduction' in Douglas Gerber's A Companion to the Greek Lyric Poets, Brill (1997), page 59
  22. ^ Christopher Brown, 'Introduction' in Douglas E. Gerber, A Companion to the Greek Lyric Poets, Brill (1997), pages 46
  23. ^ a b c d David A. Campbell, Greek Lyric Poetry, Bristol Classical Press (1982) page 138
  24. ^ Encyclopedia of ancient Greece By Nigel Guy Wilson Page 353 ISBN 978-0-415-97334-2
  25. ^ J. P. Barron and P. E. Easterling, 'Elegy and Iambus', in The Cambridge History of Classical Literature: Greek Literature, P.Easterling and B.Knox (ed.s), Cambridge University Press (1985), page 121
  26. ^ Galen, Exhortation to learning, cited and translated by Douglas E. Gerber, Greek Iambic Poetry, Loeb (1999) page 41
  27. ^ Fr. 1, cited and translated by Douglas E. Gerber, Greek Iambic Poetry, Loeb (1999) page 77
  28. ^ Denis Page, 'Archilochus and the Oral Tradition', Entretiens Hardt 10: 117–163, Geneva
  29. ^ a b J. P. Barron and P. E. Easterling, 'Elegy and Iambus', in The Cambridge History of Classical Literature: Greek Literature, P.Easterling and B.Knox (ed.s), Cambridge University Press (1985), page 119
  30. ^ Plutarch, cited and translated by Douglas E. Gerber, Greek Iambic Poetry, Loeb (1999) page 63
  31. ^ Suda (i.376.11 Adler)=Aelian fr. 80 Hercher, cited and translated by Douglas E. Gerber, Loeb (1999) page 39
  32. ^ Valerius Maximus, 6.3, ext. 1, cited and translated by Douglas E. Gerber, Loeb (1999) page 39
  33. ^ Dio Chrysostom 33.11–12, cited and translated Douglas E. Gerber, Loeb (1999) page 43
  34. ^ Quintilian, Principles of Oratory 10.1.60, cited and translated by D. E. Gerber Loeb (1999) page 65
  35. ^ cited and translated by Douglas E. Gerber, Greek Iambic Poetry, Loeb (1999) page 113
  36. ^ J. P. Barron and P. E. Easterling, 'Elegy and Iambus', in The Cambridge History of Classical Literature: Greek Literature, P.Easterling and B.Knox (ed.s), Cambridge University Press (1985), page 122
  37. ^ M. L. West, Studies in Greek Elegy and Iambus (Berlin 1974), pages 123–124
  38. ^ J. P. Barron and P. E. Easterling, 'Elegy and Iambus', in The Cambridge History of Classical Literature: Greek Literature, P.Easterling and B.Knox (ed.s), Cambridge University Press (1985), page 123
  39. ^ Davenport, Guy., Archilochus, Alcman, Sappho: Three Lyric Poets of the Seventh Century B.C. University of California Press, 1980. ISBN 0-520-05223-4, p.2.
  40. ^ D. E. Gerber Loeb (1999) page 6
  41. ^ J. P. Barron and P. E. Easterling, 'Elegy and Iambus', in The Cambridge History of Classical Literature: Greek Literature, P.Easterling and B.Knox (ed.s), Cambridge University Press (1985), pages 120–121
  42. ^ L.P.E. Parker, The Songs of Aristophanes, Oxford, 1997, p. 36
  43. ^ David A. Campbell, Greek Lyric Poetry, Bristol Classical Press (1982) page 153–154
  44. ^ Archilochus fr. 128, quoted by Stobaeus (3.20.28), cited by Douglas E. Gerber, Greek Iambic Poetry, Loeb (1999) page 167
  45. ^ "POxy Oxyrhynchus Online".
  46. ^ Moran, William L. (1978). "An Assyriological Gloss on the New Archilochus Fragment". Harvard Studies in Classical Philology. 82: 18. doi:10.2307/311017. JSTOR 311017.
  47. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-07-01. Retrieved 2008-05-09.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  48. ^ 151 [Ed.118]; quoted in M. L. West (ed.), Iambi et elegi Graeci, Vol. I (Oxford, 1971)

External links


Archilochian or archilochean is a term used in the metrical analysis of Ancient Greek and Latin poetry. The name is derived from Archilochus, whose poetry first uses the rhythms.


Arion (; Greek: Ἀρίων) was a kitharode in ancient Greece, a Dionysiac poet credited with inventing the dithyramb: "As a literary composition for chorus dithyramb was the creation of Arion of Corinth," The islanders of Lesbos claimed him as their native son, but Arion found a patron in Periander, tyrant of Corinth. Although notable for his musical inventions, Arion is chiefly remembered for the fantastic myth of his kidnapping by pirates and miraculous rescue by dolphins, a folktale motif.Herodotus (1.23) says "Arion was second to none of the lyre-players in his time and was also the first man we know of to compose and name the dithyramb and teach it in Corinth". However J.H. Sleeman observes of the dithyramb, or circular chorus, "It is first mentioned by Archilochus (c 665 BC) … Arion flourished at least 50 years later … probably gave it a more artistic form, adding a chorus of 50 people, personating satyrs… who danced around an altar of Dionysus. He was doubtless the first to introduce the dithyramb into Corinth".Arion is also associated with the origins of tragedy: of Solon John the Deacon reports: “Arion of Methymna first introduced the drama [i.e. action] of tragedy, as Solon indicated in his poem entitled Elegies".

Black-chinned hummingbird

The black-chinned hummingbird (Archilochus alexandri) is a small hummingbird occupying a broad range of habitats. It is migratory, spending winter as far south as Mexico.


Callinus (Ancient Greek: Καλλῖνος, Kallinos) was an ancient Greek elegiac poet who lived in the city of Ephesus in Asia Minor in the mid-7th century BC. His poetry is representative of the genre of martial exhortation elegy in which Tyrtaeus also specialized and which both Archilochus and Mimnermus appear to have composed. Along with these poets, all his near contemporaries, Callinus was considered the inventor of the elegiac couplet by some ancient critics.He resided in Ephesus in Asia Minor.Only a few fragments of the Callinus' poetry have survived. One of the longest fragments, consisting of 21 lines of verse, is a patriotic exhortation to his fellow Ephesians urging them to fight the invading Cimmerians, who were menacing the Greek colonies in Asia Minor:

Works of martial elegy such as this often allude to the language and the thematic content of Homer's Iliad. It is likely that Callinus performed his poetry at symposia.


In Greek mythology, the name Cleoboea (Ancient Greek: Κλεόβοια) refers to:

Cleoboea, daughter of Criasus and Melantho, sister of Phorbas and Ereuthalion.

Cleoboea, mother of Eurythemis. Her daughter was married to King Thestius of Pleuron in Aetolia. Cleoboea herself is otherwise unknown.

Cleoboea, mother of Philonis by Eosphoros. Philonis, in her turn, became the mother of Philammon by Apollo.

Cleoboea, who was said to have been the first to have brought the orgies of Demeter to Thasos from Paros. Pausanias describes a painting which portrays her and Tellis, grandfather of the poet Archilochus, both as young people, on board the boat, with a chest in Cleoboea's hands which is supposed to contain some objects sacred to Demeter.

Cleoboea or Philaechme, wife of Phobius (son of Hippocles and a descendant of Neleus). Her husband ruled over Miletus. A noble young man named Antheus was sent to Phobius from Halicarnassus as hostage. He was so handsome that Cleoboea immediately fell in love with the young man and tried to seduce him, but he rejected her advances. Her passion then took an evil turn and she plotted vengeance on him. She chased a tame partridge (or threw a pot of gold) down a deep well and asked Antheus to fetch it out for her. When he was inside, she pushed a large stone down the well and killed him. Soon after that, overcome with remorse, she hanged herself.


Diphilus (Greek: Δίφιλος), of Sinope, was a poet of the new Attic comedy and a contemporary of Menander (342-291 BC). He is frequently listed together with Menander and Philemon, considered the three greatest poets of New Comedy. He was victorious at least three times at the Lenaia, placing him third before Philemon and Menander. Although most of his plays were written and acted at Athens he died at Smyrna. His body was returned and buried in Athens.According to Athenaeus, he was on intimate terms with the famous courtesan Gnathaena. Athenaeus quotes the comic poet Machon in support of this claim. Machon is also the source for the claim that Diphilus acted in his own plays.An anonymous essay on comedy from antiquity reports that Diphilus wrote 100 plays. Of these 100 plays, 59 titles, and 137 fragments (or quotations) survive. From the extant fragments, Diphilus' plays seem to have featured many of the stock characters now primarily associated with the comedies of the Roman playwright Plautus, who translated and adapted a number of Diphilus' plays. Swaggering soldiers, verbose cooks, courtesans, and parasites, all feature in the fragments. In contrast to his more successful contemporaries, Menander and Philemon, Diphilus seems to have had a preference for the mythological subjects so popular in Middle Comedy.To judge from the imitations of Plautus (Casina from the Κληρούμενοι, Asinaria from the Ὀναγός, Rudens from some other play), he was very skillful in the construction of his plots. Terence also tells us that he introduced into the Adelphi (ii. I) a scene from the Συναποθνήσκοντες, which had been omitted by Plautus in his adaptation (Commorientes) of the same play.According to the Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition:

The style of Diphilus was simple and natural, and his language on the whole good Attic; he paid great attention to versification, and was supposed to have invented a peculiar kind of metre. The ancients were undecided whether to class him among the writers of the New or Middle comedy. In his fondness for mythological subjects (Hercules, Theseus) and his introduction on the stage (by a bold anachronism) of the poets Archilochus and Hipponax as rivals of Sappho, he approximates to the spirit of the latter.


Epode, in verse, is the third part of an ode, which followed the strophe and the antistrophe, and completed the movement.At a certain point in time the choirs, which had previously chanted to right of the altar or stage, and then to left of it, combined and sang in unison, or permitted the coryphaeus to sing for them all, while standing in the centre. With the appearance of Stesichorus and the evolution of choral lyric, a learned and artificial kind of poetry began to be cultivated in Greece, and a new form, the epode-song, came into existence. It consisted of a verse of iambic trimeter, followed by a verse of iambic dimeter, and it is reported that, although the epode was carried to its highest perfection by Stesichorus, an earlier poet, Archilochus, was really the inventor of this form.The epode soon took a firm place in choral poetry, which it lost when that branch of literature declined. But it extended beyond the ode, and in the early dramatists we find numerous examples of monologues and dialogues framed on the epodical system. In Latin poetry the epode was cultivated, in conscious archaism, both as a part of the ode and as an independent branch of poetry. Of the former class, the epithalamia of Catullus, founded on an imitation of Pindar, present us with examples of strophe, antistrophe and epode; and it has been observed that the celebrated ode of Horace, beginning Quem virum aut heroa lyra vel acri, possesses this triple character.


Hipponax (Ancient Greek: Ἱππῶναξ; gen.: Ἱππώνακτος), of Ephesus and later Clazomenae, was an Ancient Greek iambic poet who composed verses depicting the vulgar side of life in Ionian society in the sixth century BC. He was celebrated by ancient authors for his malicious wit (especially for his attacks on some contemporary sculptors, Bupalus and Athenis), and he was reputed to be physically deformed (a reputation that might have been inspired by the nature of his poetry). Little of his work survives despite its interest to Alexandrian scholars, who collected it in two or three books. He influenced Alexandrian poets searching for alternative styles and uses of language, such as Callimachus and Herodas, and his colourful reputation as an acerbic, social critic also made him a popular subject for verse, as in this epigram by Theocritus:

Here lies the poet Hipponax. If you are a scoundrel, do not approach the tomb; but if you are honest and from worthy stock, sit down in confidence and, if you like, fall asleep.Ancient literary critics credited him with inventing literary parody and "lame" poetic meters suitable for vigorous abuse, as well as with influencing comic dramatists such as Aristophanes. His witty, abusive style appears for example in this quote by Herodian, who however was mainly interested in its linguistic aspects (many of the extant verses were preserved for us by lexicographers and grammarians interested in rare words):

τίς ὀμφαλητόμος σε τὸν διοπλῆγα

ἔψησε κἀπέλουσεν ἀσκαρίζοντα;What navel-snipper wiped and washed you as you squirmed about, you crack-brained creature?where 'navel-snipper' signifies a midwife.

Iambus (genre)

Iambus or iambic poetry was a genre of ancient Greek poetry that included but was not restricted to the iambic meter and whose origins modern scholars have traced to the cults of Demeter and Dionysus. The genre featured insulting and obscene language and sometimes it is referred to as "blame poetry". For Alexandrian editors, however, iambus signified any poetry of an informal kind that was intended to entertain, and it seems to have been performed on similar occasions as elegy even though lacking elegy's decorum. The Archaic Greek poets Archilochus, Semonides and Hipponax were among the most famous of its early exponents. The Alexandrian poet Callimachus composed "iambic" poems against contemporary scholars, which were collected in an edition of about a thousand lines, of which fragments of thirteen poems survive. He in turn influenced Roman poets such as Catullus, who composed satirical epigrams that popularized Hipponax's choliamb. Horace's Epodes on the other hand were mainly imitations of Archilochus and, as with the Greek poet, his invectives took the forms both of private revenge and denunciation of social offenders.

Latin poetry

The history of Latin poetry can be understood as the adaptation of Greek models. The verse comedies of Plautus are considered the earliest surviving examples of Latin literature and are estimated to have been composed around 205-184 BC.

The start of Latin literature is conventionally dated to the first performance of a play in verse by a Greek slave, Livius Andronicus, at Rome in 240 BC. Livius translated Greek New Comedy for Roman audiences, using meters that were basically those of Greek drama, modified to the needs of Latin. His successors Plautus and Terence further refined the borrowings from the Greek stage and the prosody of their verse is substantially the same as for classical Latin verse.The traditional meter of Greek epic, the dactylic hexameter, was introduced into Latin literature by Ennius (239-169 BC), virtually a contemporary of Livius, who substituted it for the jerky Saturnian meter in which Livius had been composing epic verses. Ennius moulded a poetic diction and style suited to the imported hexameter, providing a model for 'classical' poets such as Virgil and Ovid.The late republic saw the emergence of Neoteric Poets, notably Catullus—rich young men from the Italian provinces, conscious of metropolitan sophistication, and looking to the scholarly Alexandrian poet Callimachus for inspiration. Catullus shared the Alexandrian's preference for short poems and wrote within a variety of meters borrowed from Greece, including Aeolian forms such as hendecasyllabic verse, the Sapphic stanza and Greater Asclepiad, as well as iambic verses such as the choliamb and the iambic tetrameter catalectic (a dialogue meter borrowed from Old Comedy).Horace, whose career crossed the divide between republic and empire, followed Catullus' lead in employing Greek lyrical forms, identifying with Alcaeus of Mytilene, composing Alcaic stanzas, and also with Archilochus, composing poetic invectives in the Iambus tradition (in which he adopted the metrical form of the Epode or 'Iambic Distich'). Horace was a contemporary of Virgil and, like the epic poet, he wrote verses in dactylic hexameter, but in a conversational and epistolary style. Virgil's hexameters are generally regarded as "the supreme metrical system of Latin literature."


Neobule (Greek: Νεοβούλη, Neoboúlē, lit. "New Decision" or "Ms. Fickle") was a girl addressed in the 7th-century BC Greek poetry of Archilochus. Archilochus claims to have been engaged to the girl (fl. c. 660 BC) before her father Lycambes ("Mr. Wolfy") reneged and married her to someone else. Archilochus's verses on the topic were so bitter that Neobule, her father, and her sisters were said to have all hanged themselves. These poems are generally agreed to be the origins of satire. Some modern scholars believe that Lycambes, Neobule, and her sisters were not actually the poet's contemporaries but stock characters from the iambic tradition; others hold that they are merely meaningful names applied to the figures from Archilochus's life.In an elegy by Dioscorides, the victims are imagined to speak from the grave: "We here, the daughters of Lycambes who gained a hateful reputation, swear by the reverence in which this tomb of the dead is held that we did not shame our virginity or our parents or Paros, pre-eminent among holy islands, but Archilochus spewed forth frightful reproach and a hateful report against our family. We swear by the gods and spirits that we did not set eyes on Archilochus either in the streets or in Hera's great precinct. If we had been lustful and wicked, he would have not wanted to beget legitimate children from us."

Paula da Cunha Corrêa

Paula da Cunha Corrêa is Associate Professor of Greek Language and Literature at the University of São Paulo, Brazil. She is known for her work on Archilochus and Greek Lyric Poetry.

Rediscovering Homer

Rediscovering Homer is a 2006 book by Andrew Dalby. It sets out the problems of origin, dating and authorship of the two ancient Greek epics, Iliad and Odyssey, usually attributed to Homer.

Rediscovering Homer originated as a development and expansion of two academic papers published in the 1990s in which Dalby argued that the Iliad and Odyssey must be seen as belonging to the same world as that of the early Greek lyric poets but to a less aristocratic genre. This contradicted a widespread assumption that the epics come from an older stage of civilization and literature than the personal poetry of Archilochus, Sappho and others.

Returning to these themes, Dalby summarizes the contents and significance of the two epics and hypothesizes the transmission they probably followed, from oral invention and circulation to written versions.

He then spotlights the unknown poet who, long after the time of the traditional Homer, at last saw the Iliad and Odyssey recorded in writing. Dalby notes that "no early author describes or names the singer who saw these two poems written down. We are given no sex and no name -- certainly not Homer, who is seen as a singer of the distant past." Based on what we can judge of this poet's interests and on the circumstances in which oral poetry has been recorded elsewhere, "it is possible, and even probable, that this poet was a woman. As a working hypothesis, this helps to explain certain features in which these epics are better -- more subtle, more complex, more universal -- than most others."The idea is not new. Eustathius of Thessalonica recounted an ancient fiction in which both epics were composed by an Egyptian priestess, Phantasia; Samuel Butler, in The Authoress of the Odyssey, attributed the Odyssey to a Sicilian woman between 1150 and 1050 BC; and Robert Graves in his novel Homer's Daughter made a similar proposal.

Even before the appearance of Rediscovering Homer the idea was dismissed as "far-fetched" by Anthony Snodgrass on the grounds that a woman would have been "bored out of her mind" when composing the Iliad. Reviewers, even when praising the book, have continued to be sceptical of this proposal:

As Dalby notes, the Muses can "tell many lies as if true". This applies to ancient songsters and the modern scholars who study them.


A rhapsode (Greek: ῥαψῳδός, "rhapsōidos") or, in modern usage, rhapsodist, refers to a classical Greek professional performer of epic poetry in the fifth and fourth centuries BC (and perhaps earlier). Rhapsodes notably performed the epics of Homer (Iliad and Odyssey) but also the wisdom and catalogue poetry of Hesiod and the satires of Archilochus and others. Plato's dialogue Ion, in which Socrates confronts a star player rhapsode, remains the most coherent source of information on these artists. Often, rhapsodes are depicted in Greek art, wearing their signature cloak and carrying a staff. This equipment is also characteristic of travellers in general, implying that rhapsodes were itinerant performers, moving from town to town. Rhapsodes originated in the Ionian district, which has been sometimes regarded as Homer's birthplace, and were also known as Homeridai, disciples of Homer, or "singers of stitched lays."

Ruby-throated hummingbird

The ruby-throated hummingbird (Archilochus colubris) is a species of hummingbird that generally spends the winter in Central America, Mexico, and Florida, and migrates to Eastern North America for the summer to breed. It is by far the most common hummingbird seen east of the Mississippi River in North America.

Semonides of Amorgos

For the lyric poet, see Simonides of Ceos.Semonides of Amorgos (; Greek: Σημωνίδης ὁ Ἀμοργῖνος, variantly Σιμωνίδης; fl. 7th century BC) was a Greek iambic and elegiac poet who is believed to have lived during the seventh century BC. Fragments of his poetry survive as quotations in other ancient authors, the most extensive and well known of which is a satiric account of different types of women which is often cited in discussions of misogyny in Archaic Greece. The poem takes the form of a catalogue, with each type of woman represented by an animal whose characteristics—in the poet's scheme—are also characteristic of a large body of the female population. Other fragments belong to the registers of gnomic poetry and wisdom literature in which the Hesiodic Works and Days and the Theognidea are classed, and reflect a similarly pessimistic view of the human experience. There is also evidence that Semonides composed the sort of personal invective found in the work of his near contemporary iambographer Archilochus and the later Hipponax, but no surviving fragment can be securely attributed to such a poem.

The Hedgehog Review

The Hedgehog Review is an interdisciplinary academic journal published triannually by the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture (IASC) at the University of Virginia.

The journal features critical writing about cultural identity, citizenship, cultural change, and cultural diversity. Each issue adopts a theme, which the articles address in the form of essays, interviews, annotated bibliographies, and the like.

The Greek lyricist Archilochus provided the inspiration for the name of the journal, when he wrote this aphorism: "The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing." Part of the journal's mission statement is to strive "for both the breadth of the fox and the depth of the hedgehog."


Trochilinae is a subfamily of the hummingbird family (Trochilidae). Members of the subfamily Trochilinae are sometimes called typical hummingbirds. They typically display iridescent plumage in metallic reds, oranges, greens and/or blues. Strong sexual dimorphism in plumage and size is evident in many species.

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