[i] According to Page DuBois, the language, as well as the content, of Sappho's poetry evokes an aristocratic sphere.  At the beginning of the twentieth century, the German classicist Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff posited that Sappho was a sort of schoolteacher, in order to "explain away Sappho's passion for her 'girls'" and defend her from accusations of homosexuality.  However, the performance contexts of many of Sappho's fragments are not easy to determine, and for many more than one possible context is conceivable. It is believed that she died around 570 BCE, although the suggestion that Sappho killed herself by jumping off the Leucadian cliffs for love of a ferryman named Phaon is now considered spurious.  Ancient authors claim that Sappho primarily wrote love poetry, and the indirect transmission of Sappho's work supports this notion. , Even if Sappho did compose songs for training choruses of young girls, not all of her poems can be interpreted in this light, and despite scholars' best attempts to find one, Yatromanolakis argues that there is no single performance context to which all of Sappho's poems can be attributed. Sappho herself attacks in her poems other thiasoi directed by other women. Answer. One ancient tradition tells of a relation between Charaxus and the Egyptian courtesan Rhodopis.  The two major sources of surviving fragments of Sappho are quotations in other ancient works, from a whole poem to as little as a single word, and fragments of papyrus, many of which were discovered at Oxyrhynchus in Egypt. According to Aelian, the Athenian lawmaker and poet S… “Sappho’s lyrics were intended to be sung by a chorus of maiden members of her sisterhood” (Hoffman). A fragment from Sappho that is dedicated to Charaxus has survived. Given as Sappho's father in the Oxyrhynchus Biography, Suda, a scholion on Plato's. 4 5 6. , Sappho probably wrote around 10,000 lines of poetry; today, only about 650 survive. Clio, in Greek mythology, one of the nine Muses, patron of history.Traditionally Clio, after reprimanding the goddess Aphrodite for her passionate love for Adonis, was punished by Aphrodite, who made her fall in love with Pierus, king of Macedonia.  By 1970, it would be argued that the same poem contained "proof positive of [Sappho's] lesbianism". The goal of the Sapphic thiasos is the education of young women, especially for marriage.  As early as the 9th century, Sappho was referred to as a talented woman poet, and in works such as Boccaccio's De Claris Mulieribus and Christine de Pisan's Book of the City of Ladies she gained a reputation as a learned lady. Her phrasing is concise, direct, and picturesque. In the ode to Aphrodite, the poet invokes the goddess to appear, as she has in the past, and to be her ally in persuading a girl she desires to love her. Aphrodite is the group’s tutelary divinity and inspiration.  Beyond poetry, Plato cites Sappho in his Phaedrus, and Socrates' second speech on love in that dialogue appears to echo Sappho's descriptions of the physical effects of desire in fragment 31.  In his Historical Miscellanies, Aelian wrote that there was "another Sappho, a courtesan, not a poetess".  Some scholars dismiss this tradition as unreliable.  Fragments of Sappho continue to be rediscovered.  Another contributing factor to the loss of Sappho's poems may have been the perceived obscurity of her Aeolic dialect, which contains many archaisms and innovations absent from other ancient Greek dialects.  None of Sappho's own poetry mentions her teaching, and the earliest testimonium to support the idea of Sappho as a teacher comes from Ovid, six centuries after Sappho's lifetime. Thus, the name can be translated as "Dick Allcock from the Isle of Man" , Even after the publication of the standard Alexandrian edition, Sappho's poetry continued to circulate in other poetry collections. Frequent images in Sappho’s poetry include flowers, bright garlands, naturalistic outdoor scenes, altars smoking with incense, perfumed unguents to sprinkle on the body and bathe the hair—that is, all the elements of Aphrodite’s rituals. Q: Did Sappho have children?  Ambrose Philips' 1711 translation of the Ode to Aphrodite portrayed the object of Sappho's desire as male, a reading that was followed by virtually every other translator of the poem until the twentieth century, while in 1781 Alessandro Verri interpreted fragment 31 as being about Sappho's love for Phaon. , All critical comment is, of course, embedded in the values of its time, and the world view of the person writing it. In the Roman period, critics found her lustful and perhaps even homosexual. Corrections? Today, most of it has been lost.  The view continues to be influential, both among scholars and the general public, though more recently the idea has been criticised by historians as anachronistic and has been rejected by several prominent classicists as unjustified by the evidence. According to Athenaeus, Sappho often praised Larichus for pouring wine in the town hall of Mytilene, an office held by boys of the best families. In this volume "[t]he translator has essayed to weave together into connected wholes fragments which, being in the same metre, and, being conceivably connected in a sequence, or sequences, of thought, may possibly have been parts of one poem." She also wrote about herself, her women's community, and her … We were both four years old and she lived next door to me. The scholars of Alexandria included Sappho in the canon of nine lyric poets.  These legends appear to have originated in the renaissance – around 1550, Jerome Cardan wrote that Gregory Nazianzen had Sappho's work publicly destroyed, and at the end of the sixteenth century Joseph Justus Scaliger claimed that Sappho's works were burned in Rome and Constantinople in 1073 on the orders of Pope Gregory VII. Most accounts of Sappho's life are riddled with inventions, distortions, and glaring contradictions. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. , The earliest surviving manuscripts of Sappho, including the potsherd on which fragment 2 is preserved, date to the third century BCE, and thus predate the Alexandrian edition. , From the beginning of the 19th century, women poets such as Felicia Hemans (The Last Song of Sappho) and Letitia Elizabeth Landon (Sketch the First. We know almost nothing about Sappho’s life. As was true for other female communities, including the Spartan, and for the corresponding masculine institutions, the practice of homoeroticism within the thiasos played a role in the context of initiation and education. elite. In the ancient world, Sappho's poetry was highly thought of. Sappho was an Ancient Greek lyrical poet.  By the late 19th century, lesbian writers such as Michael Field and Amy Levy became interested in Sappho for her sexuality, and by the turn of the twentieth century she was a sort of "patron saint of lesbians". , Until the last quarter of the nineteenth century, only the ancient quotations of Sappho survived. She is thought to have written nine books of poems, although the first written record of her is not dated until approximately the third century BC, nearly a hundred years after she lived.  She is best known for her lyric poetry, written to be accompanied by music. Top Answer. Ancient sources say that she had three brothers; the names of two of them, Charaxos and Larichos, are mentioned in the Brothers Poem discovered in 2014. & …  Later the exiles were allowed to return. Sappho (/ˈsæfoʊ/; Greek: Σαπφώ Sapphō [sap.pʰɔ̌ː]; Aeolic Greek Ψάπφω Psápphō; c. 630 – c. 570 BCE) was an Archaic Greek poet from the island of Lesbos.  According to Aelian, the Athenian lawmaker and poet Solon asked to be taught a song by Sappho "so that I may learn it and then die".  Early translators of Sappho sometimes heterosexualised her poetry.  Other fragments survive on other materials, including parchment and potsherds. Sappho changed the world in that she was a well-respected poet of ancient Greece, the so-called birthplace of Western civilization. Sappho's use of invocation can be seen in her "Ode to Aphrodite." 570 BC (textbook says 530) When was Sappho writing?  Despite attempts to defend her good name, in the nineteenth century Sappho was co-opted by the Decadent Movement as a lesbian "daughter of de Sade", by Charles Baudelaire in France and later Algernon Charles Swinburne in England. , Other ancient poets wrote about Sappho's life.  Not all scholars accept that Cleïs was Sappho's daughter.  Some details mentioned in the testimonia are derived from Sappho's own poetry, which is of great interest, especially considering the testimonia originate from a time when more of Sappho's poetry was extant than is the case for modern readers. A tradition going back at least to Menander (Fr. 58 from the Köln papyrus", "The New Sappho in a Hellenistic Poetry Book", "The Meter and Metrical Style of the New Poem", "Sappho Fragments 58–59: Text, Apparatus Criticus, and Translation", "A new Sappho poem is more exciting than a new David Bowie album", SORGLL: Sappho 1, read by Stephen G. Daitz, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Sappho&oldid=990730460, Short description is different from Wikidata, Articles containing Ancient Greek (to 1453)-language text, Pages using multiple image with manual scaled images, Wikipedia articles with BIBSYS identifiers, Wikipedia articles with CINII identifiers, Wikipedia articles with MusicBrainz identifiers, Wikipedia articles with SELIBR identifiers, Wikipedia articles with SNAC-ID identifiers, Wikipedia articles with SUDOC identifiers, Wikipedia articles with Trove identifiers, Wikipedia articles with WORLDCATID identifiers, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, This page was last edited on 26 November 2020, at 05:15.  The testimonia are also a source of knowledge regarding how Sappho's poetry was received in antiquity. In the 16th century, members of La Pléiade, a circle of French poets, were influenced by her to experiment with Sapphic stanzas and with writing love-poetry with a first-person female voice. Encyclopaedia Britannica's editors oversee subject areas in which they have extensive knowledge, whether from years of experience gained by working on that content or via study for an advanced degree.... Get exclusive access to content from our 1768 First Edition with your subscription. I almost die. Today, most of it has been lost. Sappho was a lyric poet from the island of Lesbos who lived in Archaic Greece. Legends about Sappho abound, many having been repeated for centuries. Unless otherwise specified, the numeration in this article is from Diane Rayor and André Lardinois', Σκαμανδρώνυμος in Greek. Most of Sappho's poetry is now lost, and what is extant has mostly survived in fragmentary form; two notable exceptions are the "Ode to Aphrodite" and the Tithonus poem.  Despite these problems, many newer interpretations of Sappho's social role are still based on this idea.  Sappho's suicide was also depicted in classical art, for instance on a first-century BCE basilica in Rome near the Porta Maggiore. Sappho and her family were exiled from Lesbos to Syracuse, Sicily, around 600 BCE. Sappho's school devoted itself to the cult of Aphrodite and Eros, and Sappho earned great prominence as a dedicated teacher and poet. Sappho presumably wrote about 10,000 lines of poetry, but only around 650 lines survive today. An important part of Sappho’s poetic oeuvre is occupied by epithalamia, or nuptial songs. One of her poems mentions a daughter named Cleis or Claïs.  This is not certain – ancient sources tell us that Aristarchus' edition of Alcaeus replaced the edition by Aristophanes, but are silent on whether Sappho's work, too, went through multiple editions. Her themes are invariably personal—primarily concerned with her thiasos, the usual term (not found in Sappho’s extant writings) for the female community, with a religious and educational background, that met under her leadership. He writes: This seems highly unlikely and has been rejected by historians in the present day and as far back as the Greek writer Strabo (64 BCE-24 CE). Tradition names her mother as Cleïs, though ancient scholars may simply have guessed this name, assuming that Sappho's daughter Cleïs was named after her. Sappho is believed to have been the daughter of Scamander and Cleïs and to have had three brothers. One of her poems mentions a daughter named Cleis or Claïs. Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. Wiki User Answered . Sappho’s legacy is her poetry, though most of it is lost. Sappho was an Ancient Greek lyrical poet. In 1879, the first new discovery of a fragment of Sappho was made at Fayum. The earliest surviving poem to do so is a third-century BCE epigram by Dioscorides, but poems are preserved in the Greek Anthology by Antipater of Sidon and attributed to Plato on the same theme. Other historians posit that she died of old age around 550 B.C. , Testimonia is a term of art in ancient studies that refers to collections of classical biographical and literary references to classical authors. Sappho, a poet of ancient Greece, is known through her work: ten books of verse published by the third and second centuries B.C.E.By the Middle Ages, all copies were lost.Today what we know of the poetry of Sappho is gleaned only through quotations in … In antiquity Sappho's poetry was highly admired, and several ancient sources refer to her as the "tenth Muse". , Among modern scholars, Sappho's sexuality is still debated – André Lardinois has described it as the "Great Sappho Question".  Denys Page comments that the phrase "by some" implies that even the full corpus of Sappho's poetry did not provide conclusive evidence of whether she described herself as having sex with women. However, the name appears to have been invented by a comic poet: the name Kerkylas comes from kerkos, meaning "penis", and is not otherwise attested as a name, while Andros means man. Sappho, and in Ideal Likenesses) took Sappho as one of their progenitors. While it is natural to suppose some commonality of experience between Sappho's poetic personaand the historical Sappho, scholars have rejected a biographical reading of the poetry and have cast grave doubts on the reliability of the later biographical traditions from which all more detailed accounts derive.  By the third century CE, the difference between Sappho's literary reputation as a poet and her moral reputation as a woman had become so significant that the suggestion that there were in fact two Sapphos began to develop. , Sappho clearly worked within a well-developed tradition of Lesbian poetry, which had evolved its own poetic diction, meters, and conventions. Whilst her importance as a poet is confirmed from the earliest times, all interpretations of her work have been coloured and influenced by discussions of her sexuality. , In 1652, the first English translation of a poem by Sappho was published, in John Hall's translation of On the Sublime.  The latest surviving copies of Sappho's poems transmitted directly from ancient times are written on parchment codex pages from the sixth and seventh centuries CE, and were surely reproduced from ancient papyri now lost. Sappho was a Greek lyric poet who flourished in the 6th century BCE on Lesbos and has been greatly admired since antiquity for the beauty of her writing style. In Greek, the Hellenistic poet Nossis was described by Marilyn B. Skinner as an imitator of Sappho, and Kathryn Gutzwiller argues that Nossis explicitly positioned herself as an inheritor of Sappho's position as a woman poet.  At the beginning of the twentieth century, the Imagists – especially Ezra Pound, H. D., and Richard Aldington – were influenced by Sappho's fragments; a number of Pound's poems in his early collection Lustra were adaptations of Sapphic poems, while H. D.'s poetry was frequently Sapphic in "style, theme or content", and in some cases, such as "Fragment 40" more specifically invoke Sappho's writing.  Thus in fragment 2 Sappho has Aphrodite "pour into golden cups nectar lavishly mingled with joys", while in the Tithonus poem she explicitly states that "I love the finer things [habrosyne]".  Sappho was also a favourite subject in the visual arts, the most commonly depicted poet on sixth and fifth-century Attic red-figure vase paintings, and the subject of a sculpture by Silanion. When I was pulling together material illustrating the long and close association of Dirk Obbink with the Green Collection / Museum of the Bible organizations, and especially the connection between Professor Obbink and Scott Carroll from 2010-2012, it occurred to me that we should probably revisit some aspects of the story of the infamous Sappho… archaic period. These elite poets tended to identify themselves with the worlds of Greek myths, gods, and heroes, as well as the wealthy East, especially Lydia. Other sources say that Charaxus' lover was called Doricha, rather than Rhodopis. Most modern critics also consider it legend that Sappho leaped from the Leucadian rock to certain death in the sea because of her unrequited love of Phaon, a younger man and a sailor. It is clear from the existing verses, however, that she deserved her reputation, and her work warrants continued study and appreciation. Sappho also began to be regarded as a role model for campaigners for women's rights, beginning with works such as Caroline Norton's The Picture of Sappho. In classical Athenian comedy (from the Old Comedy of the fifth century to Menander in the late fourth and early third centuries BCE), Sappho was caricatured as a promiscuous heterosexual woman, and it is not until the Hellenistic period that the first testimonia which explicitly discuss Sappho's homoeroticism are preserved. , The discoveries of new poems by Sappho in 2004 and 2014 excited both scholarly and media attention.  Ancient editions of Sappho, possibly starting with the Alexandrian edition, seem to have ordered the poems in at least the first book of Sappho's poetry – which contained works composed in Sapphic stanzas – alphabetically. , Sappho was said to have three brothers: Erigyius, Larichus, and Charaxus. She was exiled to Sicily around 600 BCE, and may have continued to work until around 570.  These ancient authors do not appear to have believed that Sappho did, in fact, have sexual relationships with other women, and as late as the tenth century the Suda records that Sappho was "slanderously accused" of having sexual relationships with her "female pupils". [f] In Ovid's Heroides, Sappho's father died when she was seven. , From the Romantic era, Sappho's work – especially her "Ode to Aphrodite" – has been a key influence of conceptions of what lyric poetry should be. " David A. Campbell in 1967 judged that Sappho may have "presided over a literary coterie", but that "evidence for a formal appointment as priestess or teacher is hard to find".