Archaic lyric poetry is the successor of epic poetry. When the epic genre could not fulfill the roles for which it had been created, it was replaced by the lyric genre, since the latter was better suited for the social, political and political circumstances of a developing society.
Greek lyric literature brought together poetry, music and dance. Although dance could be excluded, the poet would always write the poem and also compose the music on which it had to be sung – hence the word “lyrics”, which means “verses of a sung poem”.
At the beginning, lyric poetry was popular and it was mostly improvised, being sung at feasts and ritual celebrations. However, in the 7th century B.C., lyric poetry became a literary form, so that it was not improvised anymore, but it had a fixed form that had to be memorized in advance.
The poet would compose both the music and the lyrics, and would sing the poem accurately.
The lyrical genre brought an element of novelty: the personal, subjective “I”, addressing a “you”. The poem did not narrate the feats of old heroes anymore, but expressed the individual I, the feelings and concerns of the human being, the regret that time flies too fast, it discussed love, old age, death and faith. A clear distinction should be made between the “I” in these poems and the autobiographical “I” of the authors of these poems.
The lyric expresses individual values (such as love, the pain of losing a loved one etc.), but also collective values (like the celebration of victory in a war).
Soon, lyric poets were considered the wise men of the society, the guides of the community, who were able to describe past mistakes and prevent future threats. They also started to rely on other literary terms, which they applied to everyday life. The poets did not write out of inspiration any more, but their works were the result of their wisdom.