Our earliest texts of choral poetry are from the Peloponnese: Eumelus, a Corinthian nobleman, wrote his Delian processional song for the Messenians c. 750 b.c.; Terpander, Thaletas and Polymnestus made their homes in Sparta a century later; and Alcman’s poems were composed for Spartan choirs in the last decades of the seventh century. In the sixth century, however, the most important figures belong to Sicily and south Italy.


Arion, like Terpander, came to the Peloponnese from Lesbos, but he provides a link with Western Greece, since he made a successful tour of Sicily and Italy as a cithara-singer. His professional career in Corinth fell in the reign of the tyrant Periander (c. 625–585: test. 3), and the dates offered by Eusebius and the Suda (testt. 1, 2) no doubt depend on this synchronism. Some authorities regarded him as a pupil of Alcman (test. 1), but he may have been his contemporary. His contribution to choral poetry lay in the development of the dithyramb, and the names which he gave to his poems (test. 3) must