Anacreon composed poems for oral performance, not posterity. He seems to have written no single book or collection of poems. For his complete poems in Greek, see Poetae Melici Graeci, 1962 (Denys Page, editor). The first English translation of Anacreon was Anacreon Done into English out of the Original Greek, 1683
later translations include The Odes of Anacreon, 1928 (Erastus Richardson, translator), and Greek Lyric, 1982 (David A. Campbell, translator)
Little is known of the early life of Anacreon (uh-NAK-ree-uhn). His father was Scythinus, about whom nothing has been recorded regarding his profession or rank in society. Certain themes in Anacreon’s poetry–especially love, drinking, and the refined pleasures of life–suggest that he had an aristocratic background, yet Anacreon’s poetry may not have been autobiographical. Authors of early Greek lyrics composed works on standard themes, including drinking songs, erotic poems to both women and boys, funerary inscriptions, and battle hymns. As a result, Anacreon’s poetry may reflect personal experience or may simply embody well-established themes.
The Greek poet Anacreon dismisses Cupid, who is dressed as a messenger boy.
The era of Anacreon’s birth was that of the first Greek tragedies and the earliest speculations by the pre-Socratic philosophers. Thales (c. 625-546
In Abdera, Anacreon composed his earliest extant poetry. In addition to poems on drinking and love, he wrote works dealing with the wars that had so greatly affected his life. In one such poem, he speaks of a young friend who died fighting for Abdera. In another, he imitates Archilochus of Paros (c. 735-676
After about ten years in Abdera, Anacreon was invited to live in Samos by the tyrant Polycrates (c. 570-522
When Polycrates fell to the Persian king Darius in 522
On vases of this period, Anacreon is often depicted playing a lyre to an audience of young aristocrats. A fragment of a later poem says that Anacreon drove women mad through the power of his music. Even in the second century
Late in his career, Anacreon wrote frequently about old age. In one work, he notes that his hair had gone white and that he had seen the horrors of the underworld. Anacreon lived into his eighties, long enough to influence the Greek playwright Aeschylus (525-456