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Alcaeus of MESSENE

*)Alkai=os), of MESSENE, the author of a number of epigrams in the Greek anthology, from some of which his date may be easily fixed. He was contemporary with Philip III., king of Macedonia, and son of Demetrius, against whom several of his epigrams are pointed, apparently from patriotic feelings. One of these epigrams, however, gave even more offence to the Roman general, Flamininus, than to Philip, on account of the author's ascribing the victory of Cynoscephalae to the Aetolians as much as to the Romans. Philip contented himself with writing an epigram in reply to that of Alcaeus, in which he gave the Messenian a very broad hint of the fate he might expect if he fell into his hands. (Plut. Flam. 9.) This reply has singularly enough led Salmasius (De Cruce, p. 449, ap. Fabric. Biblioth. Graec. ii. p. 88) to suppose that Alcaeus was actually crucified. In another epigram, in praise of Flamininus, the mention of the Roman general's name, Titus, led Tzetzes (Proleg. in Lycophron) into the error of imagining the existence of an epigrammatist named Alcaeus under the emperor Titus. Those epigrams of Alcaeus which bear internal evidence of their date, were written between the years 219 and U196 B. C.

Of the twenty-two epigrams in the Greek Anthology which bear the name of "Alcaeus," two have the word "Mytilenaeus" added to it; but Jacobs seems to be perfectly right in taking this to be the addition of some ignorant copyist. Others bear the name of "Alcaeus Messenius," and some of Alcaeus alone. But in the last class there are several which must, from internal evidence, have been written by Alcaeus of Messene, and, in fact, there seems no reason to doubt his being the author of the whole twenty-two.

There are mentioned as contemporaries of Alcaeus, two other persons of the same name, one of them an Epicurean philosopher, who was expelled from Rome by a decree of the senate about 173 or 154 B. C. (Perizon. ad Aelian. V. H. 9.22; Athen. 12.547a.; Suidas, s. v. Ἐπίκουρος): the other is incidentally spoken of by Polybius as being accustomed to ridicule the grammarian Isocrates. (Plb. 32.6; B. C. 160.) It is just possible that these two persons, of whom nothing further is known, may have been identical with each other, and with the epigrammatist.

(Jacobs, Anthol. Graec. xiii. pp. 836-838; there is a reference to Alcaeus of Messene in Eusebius, Praepar. Evang. 10.2.)


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160 BC (1)
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  • Cross-references from this page (2):
    • Polybius, Histories, 32.6
    • Plutarch, Titus Flamininus, 9
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