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date: 22 May 2024

Sappho, lyric poet, c. 630–c. 570 bcelocked

Sappho, lyric poet, c. 630–c. 570 bcelocked

  • Page duBois

Extract

The poet Sappho, one of the greatest poets of world literature, a rare example of a woman whose work has survived in appreciable measure from archaic Greece, was celebrated in antiquity as “the tenth Muse” (Anth. Pal. 9.506). The Garland of Meleager, a Hellenistic anthology, includes some verses of Sappho, which the poet calls “few, but roses.” Sappho has long been praised as a superb poet of Eros, capable of subtle and effective evocations of desire and erotic pleasure, especially devoted to Aphrodite, who sends the joys and pains of love. Aphrodite is seen by some as an alter ego to the poet herself. Sappho appeals to her, as the poems voice yearning for an absent object of desire.1 She also invokes the Muses, and the Graces. The erotic poems often recall intimacy; express loss, tender yearning, and homoerotic longing; and create in memory a community bound by pleasure and song, exhibiting great elegance of composition and a sensuous luxury.

Subjects

  • Greek Literature

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Article rewritten to reflect current scholarship.

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