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Archilochus Biography

The biography of Archilochus. Archilochus, or, Archilochos (Ancient Greek) (c. 680–c. 645 BC) [ nb 1 ] was a Greek lyric poet from the island of Paros in the Archaic period.

This page has biographical information on Archilochus, one of the best poets of all time. We also provide access to the poet's poems, best poetry, quotes, short poems, and more.

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Biography | Poems | Best Poems | Short Poems | Quotes

Archilochus (a˙r-kil´o-kus) of Paros, one of the earliest Ionian lyric poets, the first Greek poet who composed iambic verses according to fixed rules. He flourished about 700 B.C. His iambic poems were renowned for force of style, liveliness of metaphor, and a powerful but bitter spirit of satire. In other lyric poems of a graver character he was also considered as a model.

He is celebrated for his versatile and innovative use of poetic meters and as the earliest known Greek author to compose almost entirely on the theme of his own emotions and experiences.   Alexandrian scholars included him in their canonic list of iambic poets, along with Semonides and Hipponax,  yet ancient commentators also numbered him with Tyrtaeus and Callinus as the possible inventor of the elegy.  However modern critics often characterize him simply as a lyric poet.  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,  yet he was also censured by them as the archetypal poet of blame  —his invectives were even said to have driven his former fiancee 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:

All his works are lost but a few fragments.

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