Ancient Greek poets of war and maiden-songs

For today’s installment of my “gratitude” series, I’m making a radical U-turn back to ancient literature. A few years ago, I subscribed to the Loeb Classical Library, a set of volumes offering the most significant Greek and Latin writings in the original, with English translations and commentary. At the time, I was especially interested in some of the earliest documented Greek poets of the 7th and 6th centuries BCE.

It’s distressing to see the fragmentary nature of the extant writing, with the realization of all that has been lost. Still, the words that remain offer a glimpse into often mysterious rituals and myths. Their contexts may seem far removed from us, yet the poems are imbued with timeless human emotions.

Below are brief selections — some of my favourites — from two very different ancient Greek poets: Alcman and Archilochus.

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