A page from the "Poetry through the Ages" exhibit...

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Anacreon’s poetic structures inspired countless imitators. (Statue from the Roman Imperial Period, Louvre)

Cultural inspiration.

Anacreontic verse was inspired by a variety of cultural and occasional supernatural undertones, often paying homage to Dionysus, the Greek God of Wine. Also known for other lyric poetry forms, Anacreon found a structure to match his quick, high-impact delivery, building 20- to 30-line poems of three to five syllables per line.

Born in Asia Minor, Anacreon founded an artistic colony in Thrace, and then moved into the court of Polycrates of Samos, where he served as the tyrant’s tutor and official court poet – and drew great admiration from fellow lyric poet Horace. After Polycrates died, Anacreon was welcomed to Athens, where he and fellow poet Simonides became part of a circle of literary and academic giants headed by Hipparchus. In his later years, he took up residence in a number of courts, living to at least age 85.

Anacreon’s prolific writings and familiar, mostly enjoyable subjects made him widely popular; indeed, several statues were erected in his honor. While much of his work was lost to pillaging and time, his structures – including Anacreontic verse – caught on and inspired countless imitators.