This paper argues that traditional Greek ways of classifying genres can, despite certain shortcomings, provide a uniquely revealing perspective on lyric texts of the archaic and classical periods. The first step is to acknowledge, drawing on current debates surrounding the “new lyric studies,” that attempts to define lyric remain problematic in modern theory. Comparing the situation in ancient criticism reveals that both classical and neoclassical criticism fail to do justice to lyric because they are committed to a view of poetry as mimesis. I then consider as an alternative an increasingly popular approach to lyric mimesis as a form of ritual speech; though such an approach circumvents some difficulties, I argue that it neglects too much of lyric’s verbal texture. I urge, then, not reverting to essentialist ideas of genre, but attending to lyric “generification” as an ongoing, productive process to which poets were always active contributors. A concluding analysis of the Linus-song shows how Greek poets exploited ideas of genre not as norms that constrained them but as fictions that were good to think with and ever able to be remade to shape expectations for songs to come.