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The period during which most of Alcman's poems were composed, was that which followed the conclusion of the second Messenian war. During this period of quiet, the Spartans began to .cherish that taste for the spiritual enjoyments of poetry, which, though felt by them long before, had never attained to a high state of cultivation, while their attention was absorbed in war. In this process of improvement Alcman was immediately preceded by Terpander, an Aeolian poet, who, before the year 676 b. c., had removed from 1 Lesbos to the mainland of Greece, and had introduced the Aeolian lyric into the Peloponnesus. This new style of poetry was speedily adapted to the choral form in which the Doric poetry had hitherto been cast, and gradually supplanted that earlier style which was nearer to the epic. In the 33rd 3r 34th Olympiad, Terpander made his great im-orovements in music. [terpander.] Hence irose the peculiar character of the poetry of his younger contemporary, Alcman, which presented ,he choral lyric in the highest excellence which he music of Terpander enabled it to reach. But llcman had also an intimate acquaintance with he Phrygian and Lydian styles of miisic, and he vas himself the inventor of new forms of rhythm,
ome of which bore his name.
A large portion of Aleutian's poetry was erotic.
n fact, he is said by some ancient writers to have
>een the inventor of erotic poetry. (Athen. xiii.
lass, which are marked by a freedom bordering on
centiousness, he obtained the epithets of " sweet"
nd" pleasant" (y\vKvs^ %apieis). Among these
oems were many hymeneal pieces. But the Par-
lenia,) which form a branch of Alcman's poems,
mst not be confounded with the erotic. They
rere so called because they were composed for the
urpose of being sung by choruses of virgins, and
ot on account of their subjects, which were very
arious, sometimes indeed erotic, but often reli-
ious. Ataman's other poems embrace hymns to
le gods, Paeans, Prosodia, songs adapted for diffe-
;nt religious festivals, and short ethical or philo-
>phical pieces. It is disputed whether he wrote
ly of those Anapaestic war-songs, or marches,
hich were called e^Sar^pia; but it seems very
ilikely that he should have neglected a kind of
imposition which had been rendered so popular
His metres are very various. He is said by ridas to have been the first poet who composed ly verses but dactylic hexameters. This state-ent is incorrect; but Suidas seems to refer to the orter dactylic lines into which Alcman broke up e Homeric hexameter. In this practice, how-er, he had been preceded by Archilochus, from tiom he borrowed several others of his peculiar 3tres: others he invented himself. Among his 3tres we find various forms of the dactylic, ana-estic, trochaic, and iambic, as well as lines com-sed of different metres, for example, iambic and apaestic. The Cretic hexameter was named .cmanic, from his being its inventor. The poems Alcman were chiefly in strophes, composed of es sometimes of the same metre throughout the •ophe, sometimes of different metres. From their
choral character we might conclude that they sometimes had an antistrophic form, and this seems to be confirmed by the statement of Hephaestion (p. 134, Gaisf.), that he composed odes of fourteen strophes, in which there was a change of metre after the seventh strophe. There is no trace of an epode following the strophe and antistrophe, in his poems.
The dialect of Alcman was the Spartan Doric, with an intermixture of the Aeolic. The popular idioms of Laconia appear most frequently in his more familiar poems.
The Alexandrian grammarians placed Alcman at the head of their canon of the nine lyric poets. Among the proofs of his popularity may be mentioned the tradition, that his songs were sung, with those of Terpander, at the first performance of the gymnopaedia at Sparta (b. c. 665, Aelian, V. H. xii. 50), and the ascertained fact, that they were frequently afterwards used at that festival. (Athen. xv. p. 678.) The few fragments which remain scarcely allow us to judge how far he deserved his reputation ; but some of them display a true poetical spirit.
Alcman's poems comprised six books, the ex tant fragments of which arc included in the col lections of Neander, H. Stephens, and Fulvius Ursinus. The latest and best edition is that of Welcker, Giessen, 1815. [P. S.]
ALCMENE ('AA/c^i/7?), a daughter of Elec-tryon, king of Messene, by Anaxo, the daughter of Alcaeus. (Apollod. ii. 4. § 5.) According to other accounts her mother was called Lysidice (Schol. ad Find. Ol. vii. 49 ; Plut. Tkes, 7), or Eurydice. (Diod. iv. 9.) The poet Asms represented Alcmene as a daughter of Amphiaraus and Eriphyle. (Paus. v. 17. § 4.) Apollodorus mentions ten brothers of Alcmene, who, with the exception of one, Licymnius, fell in a contest with the sons of Pterelaus, who had carried off the cattle of Electryon. Electryon, on setting out to avenge the death of his sons, left his kingdom and his daughter Alcmene to Amphitryon, who? unintentionally, killed Electryon. Sthenelus thereupon expelled Amphitryon, who, together with Alcmene and Licymnius, went to Thebes. Alcmene declared that she would marry him who should avenge the death of her brothers. Amphitryon undertook the task, and invited Creon of Thebes to assist him. During his absence, Zeus, in the disguise of Amphitryon, visited Alcmene, and, pretending to be her husband, related to her in what way he had avenged the death of her brothers. (Apollod. ii. 4. § 6—8 ; Ov. Amor. i. 13. 45; Diod. iv. 9; Hygin. Fab. 29; Lucian, Dialog. Deor. 10.) When Amphitryon himself returned on the next day and wanted to give an account of his achievements, she was surprised at the repetition, but Teiresias solved the mystery. Alcmene became the mother of Heracles by Zeus, and of Iphicles by Amphitryon. Hera, jealous of Alcmene, delayed the birth of Heracles for seven days, that Eurystheus might be born first, and thus be entitled to greater rights, according to a vow of Zeus himself. (Horn. //. xix. 95, &c.; Ov. Met. ix. 273, &c.; Diod. L c.) After the death of Amphitryon, Alcmene married Rhadaman-thys, a son of Zeus, at Ocaleia in Boeotia. (Apollod, ii. 4. § 11.) After Heracles was raised to the rank of a god, Alcmene and his sons, in dread of Eurystheus, fled to Trachis, and thence to Athena,