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(ălk`mən), fl. 620 B.C., Greek lyric poet of Sparta. He was the earliest writer of Dorian choral poetry whose work has survived. Short choral fragments and a longer one (part of a parthenion or choir song for girls) are extant. His verse, simple, clear, and musical, was often sung at festivals.


See his Partheneion (ed. by D. L. Page, 1951); Archilochos, Sappho, Alkman (tr. by G. Davenport, 1980).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



an ancient Greek poet who lived in Sparta during the second half of the seventh century B.C.

Alcman was the author of parthenia (maiden songs), one of which was discovered in 1855. Within a mythic framework such songs included praise to the maiden choruses participating in cult competitions. Only fragments remain of Alcman’s hymns to the gods and nuptial poems. One of these served as the basis for J. W. Goethe’s poem, “Über alien Gipfeln ist Ruh,” and M. Iu. Lermontov’s “Gornye vershiny” (Mountain Peaks).


[Fragments] in Poetae melici graeci. Edited by D. Page. Oxford, 1962.
In Russian translation:
Ellinskie poety. Translated by V. V. Veresaev. [Moscow, 1963.]


Iarkho, V., and K. Polonskaia. Antichnaia lirika. Moscow, 1967.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
No entanto, as descobertas arqueologicas dos anos 1920 da Escola Britanica de Atenas trouxeram evidencias de outras duas guerras contra a Messenia (8), atestadas ainda nos versos de Tirteu e de Alcman. Portanto, na metade do seculo VIII a.C., quando Esparta dominou a Laconia e a Messenia, a cidade se viu compelida a manter uma forca militar permanente para defesa e manutencao dos territorios conquistados; e provavel que as leis licurgicas tenham sido implementadas apos as conquistas da Laconia e da Messenia, e que a preocupacao com a defesa e a manutencao da sua cidade e das regioes conquistadas gerou a necessidade de uma nova ordem.
Greek Lyric Poetry: A Commentary on Selected Larger Pieces: Alcman, Stesichorus, Sappho, Alcaeus, Ibycus, Anacreon, Simonides, Bacchylides, Pindar, Sophocles, Euripides.
If interpretations of Alcman's Maidens' Song as a ritualized lesbian betrothal are correct, the two young women paired in that performance appear to be age-equal, in which case female homoeroticism also did not always conform to the age-differential stereotype.
According to Alcman, Spartan wine of the Seven Hills was remarkable for the delicacy of its bouquet.
by the Greek poet Alcman: the Wenetioi, who bred long-maned horses as beautiful as girls.
No one would deny the value of the discussion of Alcman, Sappho, and Spartan institutions and `tribal initiation', but then it is true that everything considered here demands the most serious appraisal.
Alcman, a Spartan poet, refers to Helen's cult at Therapnae (Greek Lyric II, Alcman 7, POxy.
In the Suda lexicon, an encyclopedic dictionary of the 10th or 11th century AD, Alcman is described as a man "of an extremely amorous disposition and the inventor of love poems." He was clearly a learned man, and his verse is full of geographic detail.