from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Of, relating to, or being a verse form used in Greek and Latin poetry, consisting of strophes of four lines following one of several metrical patterns.
  • noun Verse composed in such a form.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Pertaining to Alcæus, a lyric poet of Mytilene, in Lesbos, who flourished about 600 b. c.
  • [lowercase] Pertaining to, of the nature of, or consisting of alcaics: as, an alcaic strophe. See II.
  • noun A line written in one of the measures invented by Alcæus.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adjective Pertaining to Alcæus, a lyric poet of Mitylene, about 6000 b. c.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun verse in the meter used in Greek and Latin poetry consisting of strophes of 4 tetrametric lines; reputedly invented by Alcaeus


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Late Latin Alcaicus, of Alcaeus, from Greek Alkaïkos, from Alkaios, Alcaeus.]


  • It may not, however, be without interest to some of your readers to know, that this elegant "Alcaic" was to be found at the Chartreuse not very long before the outbreak of that great political tempest, proof of which will be found in the following extract taken from the 9th volume of Malte-Brun's

    Notes and Queries, Number 62, January 4, 1851

  • Of these, four are in hendecasyllabics, one in the Alcaic and one in the Sapphic stanza.

    The Student's Companion to Latin Authors

  • It would seem, however, that when Professor Conington insisted that an English measure once adopted for the Alcaic must be used for every ode in which Horace employed the stanza just named, he went far toward hampering the translator, who, despite his proneness to offend, has his rights.

    On Translating the Odes of Horace

  • ” To reproduce an original Sapphic or Alcaic stanza in blank verse, or in the couplets of Pope, is at once to repel the reader who knows Horace well, and to give the reader who is unacquainted with Latin lyric poetry a totally erroneous conception of the metrical and rhythmical methods of the poet.

    On Translating the Odes of Horace

  • What he knew about comic tetrameter was at my service, and in a short time I knew, as I imagined, almost all that he did about Minor Ionic, Sapphic, and Alcaic verse.

    The Private Life of Henry Maitland

  • Sappho invented the Sapphic, or Alcæus the Alcaic: each poet may have been

    A History of Elizabethan Literature

  • Rhyme became by degrees an invariable or almost invariable accompaniment, and while quantity, strictly speaking, almost disappeared (some will have it that it quite disappeared from French), a syllabic uniformity more rigid than any which had prevailed, except in the case of lyric measures like the Alcaic, became the rule.

    The Flourishing of Romance and the Rise of Allegory (Periods of European Literature, vol. II)

  • Statius, whose hendecasyllables are passable enough, has given us one Alcaic and one Sapphic ode, which recall the bald and constrained efforts of a modern schoolboy.


  • It may be true that Horace himself does not invariably suit his metre to his subject; the solemn Alcaic is used for a poem in dispraise of serious thought and praise of wine; the Asclepiad stanza in which Quintilius is lamented is employed to describe the loves of Maecenas and Licymnia.

    The Odes and Carmen Saeculare of Horace

  • The two last lines of the latter form of the stanza are indeed evidently copied from the Alcaic, with the simple omission of the last syllable of the last line of the original.

    The Odes and Carmen Saeculare of Horace


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