, the Doric form of Ἀλκμαίων
). The chief lyric poet of Sparta, though by birth a Lydian of Sardis.
He was brought to Laconia as a slave when very young, and was emancipated by his master, who
discovered his genius. He probably flourished about B.C. 631. He is said to have died, like
Sulla , of the morbus pedicularis.
Alcman is believed by some to have
been the inventor of erotic poetry, to which class of verse belong his
, songs sung by choruses of virgins, bridal hymns, and lines in
praise of love and wine. The scanty fragments of his poems that remain can be found in Bergk's
Poetae Lyrici Graeci (4th ed. 1878)
. The most important fragment
is one discovered on an Egyptian papyrus in Paris in 1855.
Alcman was the inventor of the Cretic hexameter. He also used the dactylic, anapaestic,
trochaic, and iambic metres. His poems were usually written in strophes. In the Alexandrian
Canon his name headed the list of lyric poets. See Canon Alexandrinus