About Anacreon

Who is Anacreon?

Anatolia has cultivated many valuable people who have achieved significant starts for humanity. Though little of us as a nation know about these valuable people, the names of many of our citizens are written in gold in the history of humanity.

For example Thales, who is considered to be the father of science today by many circles, is from Miletus, that is, he is Anatolian. All natural events used to be considered as the works of god until Thales, while he was the first to say that they were the laws of nature and that they were calculable. And as evidence for the people who did not believe him, he calculated the solar eclipse of 585 B.C. in advance and proved the calculability of natural events to people. Therefore, by taking a crucial step for the enlightenment of humanity, he was the first person to light the fire against bigoted approaches which associated everything with the gods. I wonder how many of our people know about his name when we have such an important citizen? I wonder if the citizens living on these lands today know enough about the facts which he proved about 2600 years ago? Or do we still need Thales to come out of his grave and prove to us the validity of science?

Thales surely is not the only important person from Anatolia. For example, Herodotus, the father of history; Strabo, the father of geography; Homer, the author of the first big literary work of western literature are just a few of the notable names from Anatolia. And many precious people who has broken ground in different topics which surpass the nature of this blog are also the children of Anatolia and Anacreon is just one of them.

Where Did Anacreon Live?

Anacreon was a bard who was born in Teos, the ancient city which is currently located in İzmir/Seferihisar/Sığacık, and who spent all of his life in Aegean. We use the attribution of bard instead of poet for him, since he did not only write poetry, but he also sang the poems that he wrote in the company of Barbiton (a stringed instrument), which was an instrument that he had developed himself. So, he performed a kind of verbal culture like the folk poets who were seen in Anatolia until recently. We might say that he is one of the first performers of the verbal culture of Anatolia as is. And, given the erotic patterns in Karacaoğlan’s poems, we could say Anacreon was some type of an ancient Karacaoğlan. Of course, Anacreon was not the first and only bard to recite his poems with an instrument during his time. The famous female poet Sappho, who lived about 50 years before Anacreon, and who was a star of the Anatolian Culture even though she was born in Lesbos, and she started singing lyric poetry accompanied by an instrument. So, what made Anacreon special at his point was the expressiveness of the poems which he wrote in the Ionic dialect of his mother tongue, Ancient Greek. He actually used a simple language in his poems. But he stood out a couple of steps ahead of those in his time, by combining his feelings with fine wits and the eroticism of his era. Even though he was not the first lyric poet, because of his impact on poetry, Anacreon was even described as the father of Lyric Poetry by the precious person of our literature and national intellectual consciousness, the Fisherman of Halicarnassus.

The ancient literary communities collected his poems into a book in 5 volumes several centuries after Anacreon’s death. But, a few of his works that we can be sure that he really wrote have made it to our days from Anacreon (only 5 pages of one volumes of the 5-volume work made it to today).  We say, sure that he really wrote, because Anacreon’s impact went ahead of its time and carried on, and many poems have been written with the name Anacreon. Even an anthology of 60 poems which was written in the 1st Century A.D. was thought to be of Anacreon, and only much later could it be understood that these poems did not belong to Anacreon after identifying their exact period of writing. These types of poems that were dedicated to Anacreon are called Anacreonteas in the literary community. In fact, in the 18th Century, about 22 centuries after Anacreon’s death, his poems were rediscovered in Europe and the famous poets of the time (Goethe, Belleau, Thomas Moore) started writing poems in Anacreon’s style again. The poems that were written in that era are called Anacreontics in the literary community. That is, Anacreon is a literary person who was important enough to have an -tics developed in his name about 2200 years after his death. Love, wine and enjoying and being happy with life are the general themes of the movement of Anacreontics. But as a matter of fact, not all poems that Anacreon wrote were of that nature. The reason why Anacreon was known mostly as such within the literary communities was because of his poems that he wrote in his time, the erotic patterned ones were known and liked the most. Therefore, the Anacreon image was rather an aged, drunken, amorist and happy old man in the literary communities.

Anacreon and Khayyam

Anacreon and Omar Khayyam have things in common, what with Anacreon’s poetry writing style was often imitated after his death using his name, having themes of wine and love, and also the use of patterns aiming to enjoy life as much as possible in the short poems with bold and intimate expressions. Anacreon can be thought as a type of ancient version of Khayyam in this sense.

All in all, Anacreon is an important literary person from Anatolia (even though we do not really know about it) whose fame lasted for eras. There are many more stories and interesting historical interactions on Anacreon, but their details go beyond the nature of our blog.

Why Do I Use the Pseudonym “Anacreon”?

I found out about Anacreon thanks to the Fisherman of Halicarnassus’s books. During my researches that I was doing because of my interest in the Ancient Anatolian culture, I have seen that Anacreon was an important person and that he was a lesser known name in the Anatolian geography today. I was extremely saddened by it, so I chose “Anacreon” as my pen name in order to protect the memory of many of our other precious people who lived in the Anatolian geography during the ancient times. This way, I believe that I will be keeping Anacreon’s name alive, as well as finding the chance to remind our people of Anacreon and our other precious people from his time. Also, I can say that
I have felt close to Anacreon’s poetry style.