Life

(Literature and the Ancient World, Critical Edition)

The life of Archilochos of Paros (ahr-KIHL-uh-kuhs of PAR-ahs) is revealed in the few remaining fragments of his poetry and by references to him in the works of later writers. The illegitimate son of Telesicles, he left Paros following the surprising end of his engagement to Neoboule. Her father, Lycambes, first approved of and then forbade the marriage, perhaps because Archilochus publicly revealed his illegitimacy. It is said that the satiric verses that Archilochus wrote in revenge were so powerful that the father and daughter hanged themselves. After he left Paros, Archilochus lived as a mercenary, spending much time in the colonial outpost of Thásos. He died in battle after he had established a new form in poetry, the iambus, in which a short syllable followed by a long one defines the meter.