Michael Delahoyde, PhD

Professor of English

Greek Literature

The Homeric epics and the Greek tragedies attract the most attention, but Sappho’s lyric poetry, Aesop’s fables, Pindar’s victory odes, and other minor works were also influential in setting the standards for various literary and poetic genres. The problem is that only a few pieces, or even fragments, survive.

Much of what we have in terms of Greek lyric poetry is fragmentary or partially reconstituted from other writers’ quotations. Poets of note, however, include from the 7th century BCE: Archilochus, Tyrtaeus, Alcman, Sappho, Alcaeus, Theognis, and Solon. From the 6th century BCE: Stesichorus, Ibycus, Anacreon, Xenophanes, Simonides, and Pindar.

English translation of these lyrics is awkward since “we naturally stress the syllables that take the down-beat, while the early Greeks found the sweep of their rhythm in the duration of the syllables alone” (Santos 24).
[See Sherod Santos, Greek Lyric Poetry: A New Translation. NY: W.W. Norton and Co., 2005.]