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Alcaeus
(611 - 580 B.C.) Greece

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Poet

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Lyric poet. Born at Mytilene in Lesbos, he was a member of the aristocratic party and went into exile when the popular party triumphed. He wrote odes, and the Alcaic stanza is named after him.

He is first identifiable Greek male poet to write love poems to boys. Alcaeus was Sappho's contemporary and addressed poems to her, to which, Aristotle tells us, she wrote cool replies. He was an ardent partisan of the aristocratic faction on Lesbos to which Sappho's own family was allied.

His love poems have disappeared, and we know of them only from references in Cicero and Horace. Horace tells us Alcaeus sang of Lycus "with his black eyes and black hair." (Odes, 1.32)

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