on Ancient Sparta

The Suda Lexicon, s.v. Alcman:

A Laconian of Messoa, wrongly called by Crates a Lydian of Sardis. A lyric poet, the son of Damas, or (according to some authorities) of Titaros. he flourished in the 37th Olympiad (632-629), when Ardys father of Alyattes was king of Lydia. He was of an extremely amorous disposition and the inventor of love-poems, but by birth a slave. He wrote six books of lyric poems, and was the first to adopt the proactice of not accompanying the hexameter with music. Being a Lacedaemonian, he uses the Dorian dialect.

Athenaeus, Deipnosophistai 15. 678b , 'thyreatic':

This, according to Sosibios in his tract On Sacrifices, is the name of a kind of garland at Sparta, made of palm leaves, and known nowadays as psilinos. These garlands, he says, are worn in memory of the victory at Thyrea by the leaders of the choruses which dance on the festival of that victory, which coincides with the Gymnopaideiai, or 'Feast of Naked Youths'. These choruses are three in number, the youths in front, the old men on the right, and the men on the left; and they dance naked, singing songs by Thaletas and Alcman and the paeans of the Laconian Dionysodotos.

Pausanias, Periegesis Hellados III. 15. 1

Behind the Colonnade (stoa) which runs beside the grove of plane trees (Platanistan) there are shrines of Alkimas and Enarsphoros and, nearby, one of Dorceus, and adjoining this again one of Sebros, all of whom are said to have been sons of Hippocoon. The spring near one of them is called Dorceian after Dorceus, and the plot near another Sebrian after Sebros. On the right of this plot is a monument to Alcman whose poems were not made the less sweet because he used the tongue of Sparta, a dialect not too euphonious. The temples of Helen and Herakles lie, the one near the tomb of Alcman, the other close to the wall. In the latter there is a statue of Herakles armed, this form being due, it is said, to the fight he had with Hippocoon and his sons.

Berne Scholia on Vergil,Georgics 3. 89:

... according to the lyric poet Alcman, the horses given by Poseidon to Hera were named Cyllarus ('bowlegs') and Xanthus (dusty yellow), Cyllarus being given to Pollux and Xanthus to his brother.

Athenaeus, Deipnosophistai 14. 646a , 'krybanon':

According to Apollodorus this is the name of a kind of cake in Alcman; and similarly Sosibios in the Third Book of his treatise on Alcman, declaring that they are shaped like a woman's breast and are used at Sparta for women's feasts, being carried round just before the attendants in the Chorus sing the eulogy they have prepared in honor of The Parthenos.

Athenaeus, Deipnosophistai 3. 114f , 'mazon':

The thridakiskai of Alcman are the same as the Attic thridakinai, or 'lettuces'; the passage of Alcman runs thus:

'making a pile of lettuces and pan-baked loaves'

Scholiast on Theokritos 5. 83, 'Karnea':

Praxilla says that this festival is so called from Karnos, son of Zeus and Europa ... but Alcman from a Trojan named Carneus.

Strabo Geography 10. 482

Ephoros says that the public mess is still called andreia, or 'the men's mess' in Crete, but that at Sparta that name is obsolete, though it occurs in Alcman, as follows:
At feasts and in the companies
of the men's mess 'tis will beside them that sit at meat
to strike up and sing the Paean.

June 14, 2009 4:36 PM

John Paul Adams, CSUN

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