The Classical lyric metres differ from the metres in other poetic genres by their being independent complete units, as lines or stanzas, and not simply a combination of various metric feet whose order and quantity determines their name (iambic septenarius for instance).

The Alcaic stanza is one of the two most important generic stanzas of Classical poetry (the other one being the Sapphic Stanza). It is called after the Lesbian (a resident of Lesbos) poet Alcaeus.

The Alcaic stanza is consisted of four lines, the first two of which have this pattern, with a caesura after the fifth syllable:

 - - ^ - - : - ^ ^ - ^ -
The third line has this pattern:

 - - ^ - - - ^ - -
And the fourth has this pattern:

 - ^ ^ - ^ ^ - ^ - -
Neither the 4th nor the 3rd lines have any regular break in them.

* - long or stressed syllable; ^ short or unstressed syllable; : caesura.

Example (in Latin):

  -   -    ^ -  - :  -    ^ ^  - ^ -
 Nunc est bibendum, nunc pede libero
  -  -  ^  -  - :  -    ^ ^- ^ -
 pulsanda tellus, nunc Saliaribus
 -  - ^  -  - -   ^- -
 ornare pulvinar deorum
 -   ^  ^ -   ^ ^ -    ^ - -
 tempus erat dapibus, sodales.

(Horatius, Od. I, 37, 1-4)

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