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Who's Who Ancient Greece: The Arts

Anakreon of Asia Minor (570-485 BC)

anacreon poetKnown as a poet of love, wine, and the carefree life, Anakreon was born and died in Teos, in Asia Minor, just opposite the island of Samos.

Recognized for his poetry as a youth, he was known as a witty, fun loving and rowdy womanizer.

He was invited to the court of Polykratis, tyrant of Samos, where he became court poet and was showered with honors by his mentor, after whose death he joined the Athenian court, returning to Asia Minor as an old man, and dying there at the age of 85.

Three of his five books were lyric poetry, elegies, and iambic poetry. Only fragments of his work survive. His poems were written to be sung at Symposia (feasts).

Though his poetry is never coarse, he celebrated feasting, handsome youths, and lovely girls, but all in an abstract sort of way, rather than with the personal element and passion that characterizes the poetry of Sappho or Alkaeus.