A Dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology

Smith, William

A Dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology. William Smith, LLD, ed. 1890

(Ἀλκμάν), called by the Attic and later Greek writers Alcmaeon (Ἀλκμαίων), the chief lyric poet of Sparta, was by birth a Lydian of Sardis. His father's name was Damas or Titarus. He was brought into Laconia as a slave, evidently when very young. His master, whose name was Agesidas, discovered his genius, and emancipated him; and he then began to distinguish himself as a lyric poet. (Suidas, s.v. Heraclid. Pont. Polit. p. 206; Vell. 1.18; Alcman, fr. 11, Welcker; Epigrams by Alexander Aetolus, Leonidas, and Antipater Thess., in Jacob's Anthol. Graec. i. p. 207, No. 3, p. 175, No. 80, ii. p. 110, No. 56; in the Anthol. Palat. 7.709, 19, 18.) In the epigram last cited it is said, that the two continents strove for the honour of his birth; and Suidas (l.c.) calls him a Laconian of Messoa, which may mean, however, that he was enrolled as a citizen of Messoa after his emancipation. The above statements seem to be more in accordance with the authorities than the opinion of Bode, that Alcman's father was brought from Sardis to Sparta as a slave, and that Alcman himself was born at Messoa. It is not known to what extent he obtained the rights of citizenship.

The time at which Alcman lived is rendered somewhat doubtful by the different statements of the Greek and Armenian copies of Eusebius, and of the chronographers who followed him. On the whole, however, the Greek copy of Eusebius appears to be right in placing him at the second year of the twenty-seventh Olympiad. (B. C. 671.) He was contemporary with Ardys, king of Lydia, who reigned from 678 to 629, B. C., with Lesches, the author of the "Little Hiad," and with Terpander, during the later years of these two poets ; he was older than Stesichorus, and he is said to have been the teacher of Arion. From these circumstances, and from the fact which we learn from himself (Fr. 29), that he lived to a great age, we may conclude, with Clinton, that he flourished from about 671 to about (631 B. C. ((Clinton, Fast. i. pp. 189, 191, 365; Hermann, Antiq. Lacon. pp.

76, 77.) He is said to have died, like Sulla, of the mortus pedicularis. (Aristot. HA 5.31 or 25; Plut. Sull. 36; Plin. Nat. 11.33.39.)