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[d]  Sappho's own name is found in numerous variant spellings, even in her own Aeolian dialect; the form that appears in her own extant poetry is Psappho. Our knowledge of Sappho comes from quotations in other authors and from papyrus finds.  An example is found in fragment 111, where Sappho writes that "The groom approaches like Ares [...] Much bigger than a big man". 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. This is regarded as ahistorical by modern scholars, perhaps invented by the comic poets or originating from a misreading of a first-person reference in a non-biographical poem. The manner of Sappho's death is unknown. Her work became more accessible in the sixteenth century through printed editions of those authors who had quoted her. By the Middle Ages, all copies were lost. The exact time, place, and cause of Sappho’s death are unknown. The Leucadian cliff (also known as Cape Leukas on the island of Lefkada) was a famous "lover's leap" following a story in which Aphrodi…  Other fragments survive on other materials, including parchment and potsherds. The exact time, place, and cause of Sappho’s death are unknown. Little is known of Sappho's life.  The earliest and most commonly attested name for Sappho's father is Scamandronymus. 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. , No reliable portrait of Sappho's physical appearance has survived; all extant representations, ancient and modern, are artists' conceptions. According to legend, Sappho was married to Cercylas, a wealthy man from the island of Andros.  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.  Manuscript copies of Sappho's works may have survived a few centuries longer, but around the 9th century her poetry appears to have disappeared, and by the twelfth century, John Tzetzes could write that "the passage of time has destroyed Sappho and her works".  Sappho's suicide was also depicted in classical art, for instance on a first-century BCE basilica in Rome near the Porta Maggiore. We were both four years old and she lived next door to me.  During the Roman period, by which time the Attic dialect had become the standard for literary compositions, many readers found Sappho's dialect difficult to understand and, in the second century CE, the Roman author Apuleius specifically remarks on its "strangeness". Sappho was a lyric poet from the island of Lesbos who lived in Archaic Greece. In 1959, Denys Page, for example, stated that Sappho's extant fragments portray "the loves and jealousies, the pleasures and pains, of Sappho and her companions"; and he adds, "We have found, and shall find, no trace of any formal or official or professional relationship between them, ... no trace of Sappho the principal of an academy. Sappho was an Ancient Greek lyrical poet.  Such influential poets as Alfred Lord Tennyson in the nineteenth century, and A. E. Housman in the twentieth, have been influenced by her poetry. 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. Sappho's Life and Poetry . , Little is known about Sappho's life for certain. Sappho was a prolific poet, probably composing around 10,000 lines. In 1681 Anne Le Fèvre's French edition of Sappho made her work even more widely known. , From the fourth century BCE, ancient works portray Sappho as a tragic heroine, driven to suicide by her unrequited love for Phaon.  The modern debate on Sappho's sexuality began in the 19th century, with Welcker publishing, in 1816, an article defending Sappho from charges of prostitution and lesbianism, arguing that she was chaste – a position which would later be taken up by Wilamowitz at the end of the 19th and Henry Thornton Wharton at the beginning of the 20th centuries. Rose that "Sappho wrote as she spoke, owing practically nothing to any literary influence," and that her verse displays "the charm of absolute naturalness. Today, it is generally accepted that Sappho's poetry portrays homoerotic feelings: as Sandra Boehringer puts it, her works "clearly celebrate eros between women". Menu. For instance, the Cologne Papyrus on which the Tithonus poem is preserved was part of a Hellenistic anthology of poetry, which contained poetry arranged by theme, rather than by metre and incipit, as it was in the Alexandrian edition. An important part of Sappho’s poetic oeuvre is occupied by epithalamia, or nuptial songs.  Even after Sappho's works had been lost, the Sapphic stanza continued to be used in medieval lyric poetry, and with the rediscovery of her work in the Renaissance, she began to increasingly influence European poetry. In 1566, the French printer Robert Estienne produced an edition of the Greek lyric poets which contained around 40 fragments attributed to Sappho. ‘The Death of Sappho’ was created in 1876 by Gustave Moreau in Symbolism 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. The next longest fragment is 16 lines long. In the era of Alexandrian scholarship (3rd and 2nd centuries bce), what survived of her work was collected and published in a standard edition of nine books of lyrical verse, divided according to metre. In ancient times, she was considered one of the greatest lyric poets and was granted monikers like "Tenth Muse" and "The Poetess". Hard to tell. Sappho had at least two brothers, Larichus and Charaxus, and may have had a third. ‘Death of Sappho’ was created in c.1870 by Gustave Moreau in Symbolism style. Herodotus, the oldest source of the story, reports that Charaxus ransomed Rhodopis for a large sum and that Sappho wrote a poem rebuking him for this. ... when it rained eating sweets & biscuits ,,,,,Anyway would just like 2 know what happened 2 her 2 die so young,,,,,I have cancer myself !!! black. Sappho was a poetess of Ancient Greece. [l] The earliest known ancient comedy to take Sappho as its main subject was the early-fifth or late-fourth century BCE Sappho by Ameipsias, though nothing is known of it apart from its name.  She contrasts Sappho's "flowery,[...] adorned" style with the "austere, decorous, restrained" style embodied in the works of later classical authors such as Sophocles, Demosthenes, and Pindar. She was sometimes referred to as "The Poetess", just as Homer was "The Poet". 258 K) suggested that Sappho killed herself by jumping off the Leucadian cliffs for love of Phaon, a ferryman.  The testimonia are also a source of knowledge regarding how Sappho's poetry was received in antiquity.  Not all scholars accept that Cleïs was Sappho's daughter. , Like the ancients, modern critics have tended to consider Sappho's poetry "extraordinary". Aphrodite is the group’s tutelary divinity and inspiration. Beyond her poetry, she is well known as a symbol of love and desire between women, with the English words sapphic and lesbian being derived from her own name and the name of her home island respectively. Answer. , 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. Updates? Archaic Greece is like a black hole in the historical record, quite often the poems of authors like Sappho are the best textual evidence we have because there are just no surviving histories or other texts which would contribute our understanding.  The legend may have resulted in part from a desire to assert Sappho as heterosexual. Her phrasing is concise, direct, and picturesque, and her themes are personal—primarily concerned with the female religious and educational community that met under her leadership. No contemporary historical sources exist for Sappho's life—only her poetry. 4 5 6. Sappho was married to Kerkylas of Andros. , Only approximately 650 lines of Sappho's poetry still survive, of which just one poem – the "Ode to Aphrodite" – is complete, and more than half of the original lines survive in around ten more fragments. Sappho’s legacy is her poetry, though most of it is lost. It is not known how her poems were published and circulated in her own lifetime and for the following three or four centuries. Corrections? Regarded by ancient commentators as the equal of Homer, the ancient Greek poet Sappho expressed human emotions with honesty, courage, and skill. It may be said that in her was born the greatest lyric poetess of all time. Sappho changed the world in that she was a well-respected poet of ancient Greece, the so-called birthplace of Western civilization. Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article (requires login).  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. Sappho's school devoted itself to the cult of Aphrodite and Eros, and Sappho earned great prominence as a dedicated teacher and poet. A literary papyrus of the second century CE. Singing, dancing, and poetry played a central role in this educational process and other cultural occasions. “This is the condition of my survival,” he carries on, “for if I did not forget, I should die.” The faithful, deserted lover dies a thousand deaths at the hands of memory. Sappho has been the subject of controversy, and most of her work has been lost over the centuries or deliberately destroyed. 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. Her work contains only a few apparent allusions to the political disturbances of the time, which are so frequently reflected in the verse of her contemporary Alcaeus. The scholars of Alexandria included Sappho in the canon of nine lyric poets. 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. “Because once I’ve learned it, I can die.” So said Solon the Wise, the great Athenian lawmaker of the sixth century B.C., when asked why he wanted to be taught a certain poem by Sappho. , Traditional modern literary critics of Sappho's poetry have tended to see her poetry as a vivid and skilled but spontaneous and naive expression of emotion: typical of this view are the remarks of H. J. , In 1652, the first English translation of a poem by Sappho was published, in John Hall's translation of On the Sublime. , 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. Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. , The Alexandrian edition of Sappho's poetry was based on the existing Athenian collections, and was divided into at least eight books, though the exact number is uncertain. According to an often repeated, though unlikely, legend, Sappho leaped from the Leucadian rock to certain death in the sea because of her unrequited love for Phaon, a younger man who was a sailor. She was born probably about 620 BCE to an aristocratic family on the island of Lesbos during a great cultural flowering in the area. The exact time, place, and cause of Sappho’s death are unknown. , Even after the publication of the standard Alexandrian edition, Sappho's poetry continued to circulate in other poetry collections. 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. 2015-05-07 04:10:32 2015-05-07 04:10:32. sapphoman dieded of the plagues. , Sappho's poetry also influenced other ancient authors.  An example is from fragment 96: "now she stands out among Lydian women as after sunset the rose-fingered moon exceeds all stars", a variation of the Homeric epithet "rosy-fingered Dawn".  Whatever its make-up, the Alexandrian edition of Sappho probably grouped her poems by their metre: ancient sources tell us that each of the first three books contained poems in a single specific metre.  However, the name appears to have been invented by a comic poet: the name "Kerkylas" comes from the word "κέρκος" (kerkos), a possible meaning of which is "penis", and is not otherwise attested as a name, while "Andros", as well as being the name of a Greek island, is a form of the Greek word "ἀνήρ" (aner), which means man.  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". , According to legend, Sappho's poetry was lost because the church disapproved of her morals. The testimonia regarding Sappho do not contain references contemporary to Sappho. Fragment 132 describes Cleïs as "παῖς" (pais), which, as well as meaning "child", can also refer to the "youthful beloved in a male homosexual liaison". Sappho presumably wrote about 10,000 lines of poetry, but only around 650 lines survive today. A philosopher Maximus of Tyre wrote that the friendships of Sappho were similar to those of Socrates – suggesting Sappho had a circle of like-minded friends brought together by a love of art, poetry and culture. It has been suggested, with little authority, that Sappho may have been the head of some formal academy like a school. Sir, The fragments of Sappho's poetry are conventionally referred to by fragment number, though some also have one or more common names.  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". Sappho wrote odes to the goddesses, especially Aphrodite-- the subject of Sappho's complete surviving mode, and love poetry, including the wedding genre (epithalamia), using vernacular and epic vocabulary. 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. Sappho's sexuality has long been the subject of debate. Sappho's poetry is still considered extraordinary and her works continue to influence other writers. A fragment from Sappho that is dedicated to Charaxus has survived.  Some scholars dismiss this tradition as unreliable. , Among modern scholars, Sappho's sexuality is still debated – André Lardinois has described it as the "Great Sappho Question". island near Turkey / Ionian coast. , Sappho probably wrote around 10,000 lines of poetry; today, only about 650 survive.  Theodor Bergk's 1854 edition became the standard edition of Sappho in the second half of the 19th century; in the first part of the 20th, the papyrus discoveries of new poems by Sappho led to editions and translations by Edwin Marion Cox and John Maxwell Edmonds, and culminated in the 1955 publication of Edgar Lobel's and Denys Page's Poetarum Lesbiorum Fragmenta. Sappho's use of invocation can be seen in her "Ode to Aphrodite."  In ancient times, Sappho was widely regarded as one of the greatest lyric poets and was given names such as the "Tenth Muse" and "The Poetess".  Later in that century, she would become a model for the so-called New Woman – independent and educated women who desired social and sexual autonomy – and by the 1960s, the feminist Sappho was – along with the hypersexual, often but not exclusively lesbian Sappho – one of the two most important cultural perceptions of Sappho.  She was from Mytilene on the island of Lesbos[c] and was probably born around 630 BCE. , The discoveries of new poems by Sappho in 2004 and 2014 excited both scholarly and media attention.  For instance, a fragment of a play by Menander says that Sappho threw herself off of the cliff at Leucas out of her love for Phaon. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox.  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. , By the medieval period, Sappho's works had been lost, though she was still quoted in later authors.  Unexpected word-play is a characteristic feature of her style. [j] However, she has not always been so considered. When did Sappho die? Her phrasing is concise, direct, and picturesque. [b] The representations of Sappho's life that occur in the testimonia always need to be assessed for accuracy, because many of them are certainly not correct.  She is best known for her lyric poetry, written to be accompanied by music. She was sometimes referred to as "The Poetess", just as Homer was "The Poet". describes her as pantelos mikra, quite tiny.  The Parian Chronicle records Sappho going into exile some time between 604 and 591.  However, the papyrus tradition suggests that this may not have been the case: a series of papyri published in 2014 contains fragments of ten consecutive poems from Book I of the Alexandrian edition of Sappho, of which only two are certainly love poems, while at least three and possibly four are primarily concerned with family.  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. Sappho presumably wrote about 10,000 lines of poetry, but only around 650 lines survive today. She was probably born around 630 BC on the island of Lesbos. Her language contains elements from Aeolic vernacular speech and Aeolic poetic tradition, with traces of epic vocabulary familiar to readers of Homer. A tradition going back at least to Menander (Fr. Articles from Britannica Encyclopedias for elementary and high school students. 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. Later legends surrounding Sappho's love for the ferryman Phaon and her death are unreliable. The most commonly used numbering system is that of E. M. Voigt, which in most cases matches the older Lobel-Page system.  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. Find more prominent pieces of history painting at Wikiart.org – best visual art database. How did Sappho die? Though the word "élite" is used as a shorthand for a particular ideological tradition within Archaic Greek poetic thought, it is highly likely that all Archaic poets in fact were part of the elite, both by birth and wealth. archaic period. According to an often repeated, though unlikely, legend, Sappho leaped from the Leucadian rock to certain death in the sea because of her unrequited love for Phaon, a younger man who was a sailor. Q: Did Sappho have children? The Athenian playwright Menander (c. 341-29 BCE) started the legend that she committed suicide by leaping from the Leucadian cliffs over the unrequited love of a ferryman named Phaon. Today, most of it has been lost. In 1879, the first new discovery of a fragment of Sappho was made at Fayum. West comments on the translation of this word, "'Loveliness' is an inadequate translation of, Other musical inventions attributed to Sappho in antiquity include the, "Sappho: New Poem No. 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. Who was the other poet writing at Sappho's time?  This story may well be apocryphal, especially as Ammianus Marcellinus tells a similar story about Socrates and a song of Stesichorus, but it is indicative of how highly Sappho's poetry was considered in the ancient world. How did Sappho die? She was a popular character in ancient Athenian comedy, and at least six separate comedies called Sappho are known. [i] According to Page DuBois, the language, as well as the content, of Sappho's poetry evokes an aristocratic sphere.  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]".  In these interpretations, Sappho was involved in the ritual education of girls, for instance as a trainer of choruses of girls.  Sappho's father is not mentioned in any of her surviving works, but Campbell suggests that this detail may have been based on a now-lost poem.  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. 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. , Sappho clearly worked within a well-developed tradition of Lesbian poetry, which had evolved its own poetic diction, meters, and conventions.  Sappho's father's name is less certain. Most of Sappho’s poetry has not been found, save for one complete poem: the ‘Ode to Aphrodite’. 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.  This may have been as a result of her family's involvement with the conflicts between political elites on Lesbos in this period, the same reason for Sappho's contemporary Alcaeus' exile from Mytilene around the same time. But many scholars challenge this claim, finding evidence in the Greek words of the bawdry of later Comic poets. [f] In Ovid's Heroides, Sappho's father died when she was seven. Today, most of it has been lost. One of her poems mentions a daughter named Cleis or Claïs. , One longstanding suggestion of a social role for Sappho is that of "Sappho as schoolmistress". " Against this essentially romantic view, one school of more recent critics argues that, on the contrary, Sappho's poetry displays and depends for its effect on a sophisticated deployment of the strategies of traditional Greek rhetorical genres - so that it seems spontaneous, whilst actually being very crafted. She has the ability to stand aloof and judge critically her own ecstasies and grief, and her emotions lose nothing of their force by being recollected in tranquillity. , According to the Suda, Sappho was married to Kerkylas of Andros. elite. Her poetry was well-known and greatly admired through much of antiquity, and she was among the canon of nine lyric poets most highly esteemed by scholars of Hellenistic Alexandria. In the ancient world, Sappho's poetry was highly thought of. Sappho herself attacks in her poems other thiasoi directed by other women. , Leslie Kurke groups Sappho with those archaic Greek poets from what has been called the "élite" ideological tradition,[h] which valued luxury (habrosyne) and high birth.  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.  In his Historical Miscellanies, Aelian wrote that there was "another Sappho, a courtesan, not a poetess".  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. In the ancient world, Sappho's poetry was highly thought of. 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." If the Church did set out to outlaw Sappho’s poetry, it should not surprise us. , Sappho's poetry is known for its clear language and simple thoughts, sharply-drawn images, and use of direct quotation which brings a sense of immediacy. Most of Sappho's poetry is preserved in manuscripts of other ancient writers or on papyrus fragments, but part of one poem survives on a potsherd. Three epigrams attributed to Sappho are extant, but these are actually Hellenistic imitations of Sappho's style. , Other ancient poets wrote about Sappho's life. Most accounts of Sappho's life are riddled with inventions, distortions, and glaring contradictions.  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.  By 1970, it would be argued that the same poem contained "proof positive of [Sappho's] lesbianism". Only the ode to Aphrodite, 28 lines long, is complete. 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.
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