Lyric poetry is represented in Lesvos by Sapfo and Alcaeos. Besides writing romantic and convivial poetry, Alcaeos was exiled in Pyrra, Lydia and Egypt because of the political character of many of his poems. The rich poetic work of Alcaeos includes poems written in different occasions while having completely diverse content: hymns to gods and heroes, as well as mythological themes, poems referring to contemporary political conditions, poems of an agonistic tone, hatred and animosity, delight over victories and despair over defeats.
He would also write philosophic and love songs or even songs suitable for “drinking” occasions. Several influences of his songs can be traced in the comments, indicating that they must have been extremely popular among the Attics. He wielded a great impact on Oratios. The general appreciation he enjoyed resulted in his inclusion in the lyric poets’ Canon that contained nine classics who were honoured and greatly appreciated by the Alexandrian scholars.
Art and culture, especially poetry, have been some of the most prosperous fields in which Lesvos has had an extremely active presence since the early antiquity. According to mythology Orpheus’s head and lyre were carried away by the sea to the coasts of Lesvos, after being executed by the maenads in Thrace. What is more, the myth insists that the amputated head kept on singing and providing the oracle near Antisa with its prophecies, while the lyre was hanging on the wall of the Temple of Apollona in Mytilene. Since the 7th century, apart from a great economic development, Lesvos enjoyed a substantial cultural and artistic blossom that few other places in the country ever relished. Even though Athens has always been the cultural centre of ancient Greece, the settlements of Lesvos significantly contributed in the creation of the ancient Greek civilization.
Music and poetry have always been among the favourite activities undertaken by the inhabitants of the island. Terpandros from Antissa, Arion from Mithimna who –according to the myth – was singing travelling on the back of a dolphin and Koition from Mytilene, are some of the most renowned musicians of the antiquity. Although born in Antisa, Terpandros was artistically risen to prominence in Sparta where he founded a music school and won the music competition during the 26th Olympics around 676 – 673 B.C. The invention of the eight string lyre called “barbitos” as well as the perfection of a hymn entitled “Nomos” dedicated to the worship of Apollon are attributed to Terpandros. Arion succeeds Terpandros and continues his work. He unfolds his artistic talent in the court of Periandros in Korinthos and renders the choral song and especially the Dionysian dithyramb into a complex and artistic poetic and musical kind.