Tuesday, November 27, 2007


you've ever been hit by an out-of-the-blue moment of inspiration, thank your muse. The Greeks charged nine sister-muses with those moments of creativity, and Plato named poetess Sappho a 10th. As Venus and Neptune play with the ephemeral muses, get to know your own.

ARIES (March 21-April 19): If something sits too long in one place, it creates what the Chinese call stale chi. Move your life around. Invigorate your energy. Don't wait for the perfect storm to come along and do it for you.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): It's up to you to start a powerful cycle of renewal. You forgive someone -- a relative, friend or yourself. Life responds in kind, forgiving debts you've been carrying for years.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): You think you have three or four options. But the truth is that there are at least a thousand different ways you can approach your current situation. Brainstorm with friends, and then go for the playfully intriguing solutions.

CANCER (June 21-July 22): If you're not quite jiving with your work situation, don't worry. You probably need more education to do a job correctly. Sign up for a class. You could even meet a new sweetie in the learning process.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): It's only natural that you want to take charge, and you do a fine job of it, too -- so long as you listen. The ones you're leading have valuable information. You just have to ask the right questions.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): You don't have to dread negotiating. In fact, you might decide to look forward to it. You make a special connection while arguing back and forth, and you'll be able to reach sweet agreement.

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): You refuse to be limited by self-definition. Venus skillfully persuades a different facet of your personality to surface. That rarely-seen side of you takes others, including yourself, by surprise.

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): The fun isn't in showing the world what you can do. The fun is in making it look easy. And now you get extra points for your graceful handling of life's complexities.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): Charisma is high again. Your fan club includes not only people in your immediate circle but also people you see more or less daily, though you don't know them well at all. Just keep charming them with that smile.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): Put your work to the test. If others have to concentrate too intently to understand what you're doing, it's not yet simple enough to put out in the world, let alone offer for sale.

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): You are not usually prone to obsessing over the superfluous. But a tiny piece of information may get stuck in your craw now, causing you to mull it over and over until you figure it out.

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): You're totally ''on.'' You present and produce with great skill. If you're doing it for money, you'll be bright and witty. If you're doing it for love, you'll be magnificent.

IF NOV. 26 IS YOUR BIRTHDAY: You hit your stride this year, zooming past obstacles that used to detour you. New relationships become quickly close, or old relationships are transformed with new energy. There's a financial bonus at the end of December and again in February. You'll be well-recommended for an important job in May. Virgo and Taurus adore you. Your lucky numbers are 8, 21, 19, 33 and 45. Sappho
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For other uses, see Sappho (disambiguation).
Sappho (Attic Greek Σαπφώ [sapːʰɔː], Aeolic Greek Ψάπφω [psapːʰɔː]) was an Ancient Greek lyric poet, born on the island of Lesbos. In history and poetry texts, she is sometimes associated with the city of Mytilene on Lesbos (Carson 2002); she was also said to have been born in Eresos, another city on Lesbos. Her birth was sometime between 630 BC and 612 BC, and it is said that she died around 570 BC. The bulk of her poetry, which was well-known and greatly admired throughout antiquity, has been lost, but her immense reputation has endured through surviving fragments.

1 Life
2 Works
2.1 Meters and genres
2.2 The surviving poetry
2.2.1 Recent discoveries
3 Legacy
3.1 Loss and preservation of Sappho's works
3.1.1 Sources of the surviving fragments
3.2 Reputation in antiquity
3.3 Modern translations
3.4 References in modern literature
4 Notes
5 References
6 External links

[edit] Life

Sappho by Gustav KlimtNo contemporary historical sources exist for Sappho's life — only her poetry. Scholars have rejected a biographical reading of her poetry and have cast doubt on the reliability of the later biographical traditions from which all more detailed accounts derive.[1]

Sappho is said to have been the daughter of Scamander and Cleïs and to have had three brothers. Attic comedy makes reference, in an apocryphal account, to her marriage to a wealthy merchant. There is a tradition that she was married to a certain Kerkylas of Andros, but that is likely to be a mere witticism, as the name means "prick from the Isle of Man."[2] Some translators have interpreted a poem about a girl named Cleïs as being evidence that she had a daughter by that name. It was a common practice of the time to name daughters after grandmothers, so there is some basis for this interpretation. But the actual Aeolic word pais was more often used to indicate a slave or any young girl, rather than a daughter. In order to avoid misrepresenting the unknowable status of young Cleïs, translator Diane Rayor and others, such as David Campbell, chose to use the more neutral word "child" in their versions of the poem.

Sappho was born into an aristocratic family, which is reflected in the sophistication of her language and the sometimes rarefied environments which her verses record. References to dances, festivals, religious rites, military fleets, parading armies, generals, and ladies of the ancient courts abound in her writings. She speaks of time spent in Lydia, one of the wealthiest and most powerful countries of that time. More specifically, Sappho speaks of her friends and happy times among the ladies of Sardis, capital of Lydia, once the home of Croesus and near the gold-rich lands of King Midas.

Sappho and Alcaeus of Mytilene, by Lawrence Alma-Tadema (1881)A violent coup on Lesbos, following a rebellion led by Pittacus, toppled the ruling families from power. For many years, Sappho and other members of the aristocracy, including fellow poet Alcaeus, were exiled. Her poetry speaks bitterly of the mistreatment she suffered during those years. Much of her exile was spent in Syracuse on the island of Sicily. Upon hearing that the famous Sappho would be coming to their city, the people of Syracuse built a statue of her as a form of welcome. Much later, in 581 BC, when Pittacus was no longer in power, she was able to return to her homeland. A tradition going back at least to Menander (fr. 258 K) suggested that Sappho killed herself by jumping off the Leucadian cliffs for love of Phaon, a ferryman. Some 20th-century scholars have suggested that this legend of Sappho's leap from the cliff over the love for a man may have resulted in part from a desire to assert herself as heterosexual.[3]

Sappho's poetry centers around passion and love for various personages and genders. The word "lesbian" derives from the name of the island of her birth, Lesbos; her name is also the origin of its less common synonym sapphic. The narrators of many of her poems speak of infatuations and love (sometimes requited, sometimes not) for various women, but descriptions of physical acts between women are few and subject to debate. Whether these poems are meant to be autobiographical is not known, although elements of other parts of Sappho's life do make appearances in her work, and it would be compatible with her style to have these intimate encounters expressed poetically, as well. Her homoerotica should be placed in the seventh century (BC) context. The poems of Alcaeus and later Pindar record similar romantic bonds between the members of a given circle.[4]

Sappho's contemporary Alcaeus described her thus: "Violet-haired, pure, honey-smiling Sappho" (ἰόπλοκ᾽ ἄγνα μελλιχόμειδε Σάπφοι, fr. 384). The 3rd Century philosopher Maximus of Tyre wrote that Sappho was "small and dark" and that her relationships to her female friends were similar to those of Socrates:

What else was the love of the Lesbian woman except Socrates' art of love? For they seem to me to have practised love each in their own way, she that of women, he that of men. For they say that both loved many and were captivated by all things beautiful. What Alcibiades and Charmides and Phaedrus were to him, Gyrinna and Atthis and Anactoria were to the Lesbian.
During the Victorian era, it became the fashion to describe Sappho as the headmistress of a girls' finishing school. As Page DuBois (among many other experts) points out, this attempt at making Sappho understandable and palatable to the genteel classes of Great Britain was based more on conservative sensibilities than evidence. In fact, many argue there are no references to teaching, students, academies, or tutors in any of Sappho's admittedly scant collection of surviving works. Burnett follows others, like C.M. Bowra, in suggesting that Sappho's circle was somewhat akin to the Spartan agelai or the religious sacred band, the thiasos, but Burnett nuances her argument by noting that Sappho's circle was distinct from these contemporary examples because "membership in the circle seems to have been voluntary, irregular and to some degree international."[5] The notion that Sappho was in charge of some sort of academy persists nonetheless.

[edit] Works
Wikisource has original works written by or about:
[edit] Meters and genres
Ancient sources state that Sappho produced nine volumes of poetry.

Please help improve this article by expanding this section
with: discussion of the generic and metrical classifications of Sappho's works.
See talk page for details. Please remove this message once the section has been expanded.

[edit] The surviving poetry
The surviving proportion of the nine-volume corpus of poetry read in antiquity is small but still constitutes a poetic corpus of major importance. There is a single complete poem, Fragment 1, Hymn to Aphrodite.[6] There is another modern translation of that ode, and translations of two more virtually-complete poems (16 and 31 in the standard numeration) and three shorter fragments, including one whose authorship is uncertain (168b).[7][8]

[edit] Recent discoveries

Sappho's recently discovered poem on old age (lines 9-20). 3rd cent. B.C. papyrus, from an exhibit of the Altes MuseumThe most recent addition to the corpus is a virtually-complete poem on old age. The line-ends were first published in 1922 from an Oxyrhynchus papyrus, no. 1787 (fragment 1: see the third pair of images on this page), but little could be made of them, since the indications of poem-end (placed at the beginnings of the lines) were lost, and scholars could only guess where one poem ended and another began. Most of the rest of the poem has recently (2004) been published from a 3rd century BC papyrus in the Cologne University collection. The latest reconstruction, by M. L. West, appeared in the Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 151 (2005), 1-9, and in the Times Literary Supplement on 21 June 2005 (English translation and discussion). Another full literary translation is available.[9] The Greek text has been reproduced with helpful notes for students of the language,[10] together with other examples of Greek lyric poetry.

A major new literary discovery, the Milan Papyrus,[11] recovered from a dismantled mummy casing and published in 2001, has revealed the high esteem in which the poet Posidippus of Pella, an important composer of epigrams (3rd century BC), held Sappho's 'divine songs'. An English translation of the new epigrams, with notes, is available,[12] as is the original Greek text.[13]

[edit] Legacy

[edit] Loss and preservation of Sappho's works

Sappho, by Charles Mengin (1877) Manchester Art Gallery, UKAlthough Sappho's work endured well into Roman times, with changing interests, styles, and aesthetics her work was copied less and less, especially after the academies stopped requiring her study. Part of the reason for her disappearance from the standard canon was the predominance of Attic and Homeric Greek as the languages required to be studied. Sappho's Aeolic dialect, a difficult one, and by Roman times, arcane and ancient as well, posed considerable obstacles to her continued popularity.

Once the major academies of the Byzantine Empire dropped her works from their standard curricula, very few copies of her works were made by scribes. Still, the greatest poets and thinkers of ancient Rome continued to emulate her or compare other writers to her, and it is through these comparisons and descriptions that we have received much of her extant poetry.

Modern legends, with origins that are difficult to trace, have made Sappho's literary legacy the victim of purposeful obliteration by scandalized church leaders, often by means of book-burning. There is no known historical evidence for these accounts. Indeed, Gregory of Nazianzus, who along with Pope Gregory VII features as the villain in many of these stories, was a reader and admirer of Sappho's poetry. For example, modern scholars have noted the echoes of Sappho fr. 2 in his poem On Human Nature, which copies from Sappho the quasi-sacred grove (alsos), the wind-shaken branches, and the striking word for "deep sleep" (kōma).[14]

It appears likely that Sappho's poetry was largely lost through action of the same forces of cultural change that obliterated, without prejudice, the remains of all the canonical archaic Greek poets. Indeed, as one would expect from ancient critical estimations, which regard Sappho and Pindar as the greatest practitioners of monodic lyric and choral poetry (respectively), more of Sappho's work has survived through quotation than any of the others, with the exception of Pindar (whose works alone survive in a manuscript tradition).

[edit] Sources of the surviving fragments
Although the manuscript tradition broke off, some of Sappho's poetry has been discovered in Egyptian papyri fragments from an earlier period, such as those found in the ancient rubbish heaps of Oxyrhynchus, where a major find brought many new but tattered verses to light, providing a major new source.[15] One substantial fragment is preserved on a potsherd. The rest of what we know of Sappho comes through citations in other ancient writers, often made to illustrate grammar, vocabulary, or meter.

[edit] Reputation in antiquity
In antiquity, Sappho was commonly regarded as the greatest, or one of the greatest, of lyric poets. An epigram in the Anthologia Palatina (9.506) ascribed to Plato states:

Some say the Muses are nine: how careless!
Look, there's Sappho too, from Lesbos, the tenth.
Claudius Aelianus wrote in Miscellany (Ποικίλη ἱστορία) that Plato called Sappho wise. A story is recounted in the Florilegium (3.29.58) of Stobaeus:

Solon of Athens heard his nephew sing a song of Sappho's over the wine and, since he liked the song so much, he asked the boy to teach it to him. When someone asked him why, he said, "So that I may learn it, then die."

A few centuries later, Horace wrote in his Odes that Sappho's lyrics are worthy of sacred admiration. One of Sappho's poems was famously translated by the 1st century BC Roman poet Catullus in his "Ille mi par esse deo videtur" (Catullus 51).

[edit] Modern translations
From the time of the European Renaissance, the interest in Sappho's writing has grown, seeing waves of fairly widespread popularity as new generations rediscover her work. Since few people are able to understand ancient languages, each age has translated Sappho in its own idiomatic way. Poetry, such as Sappho's, that relies on meter is difficult to reproduce in English which uses stress-based meters and rhyme compared to Ancient Greek's solely length-based meters. As a result, many early translators used rhyme and worked Sappho's ideas into English poetic forms.

In the 1960s, Mary Barnard reintroduced Sappho to the reading public with a new approach to translation that eschewed the use of rhyming stanzas or forms of poetry, such as the sonnet. Subsequent translators have tended to work in a similar manner, seeking to allow the essence of Sappho's spirit to be visible through the translated verses.

[edit] References in modern literature
Lord Byron wrote the following lines about her in Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, Stanza XXXIX:

And onward viewed the mount, not yet forgot,
The lover's refuge and the Lesbian's grave.
Dark Sappho! could not verse immortal save
That breast imbued with such immortal fire?
Charles Baudelaire writes about Sappho in Les Fleurs du mal.

Ezra Pound admired Sappho's work and wrote "'Ιμερρω" (Poetry, September 1916) to Atthis, the subject of many of Sappho's poems.

Comedy Central actor Jade Esteban Estrada portrays Sappho in the solo musical ICONS: The Lesbian and Gay History of the World, Vol. 1.

The Greek poet Odysseas Elytis (20th century AD from Lesbos) admired her in one of his Mikra Epsilon:

Such a being, both sensitive and courageous, is not often presented by life. A small-built deep-dark-skinned girl, that did prove to be equally capable of subjugating a rose-flower, interpreting a wave or a nightingale, and saying 'I love you', to fill the globe with emotion.
Lawrence Durrell wrote a play in verse titled Sappho, set in 7th Century BC Lesbos.

Algernon Swinburne wrote a poem concerning Sappho, Sapphics, and another, Anactoria, concerning her and her lover Anactoria, which makes Sappho into a rather hyperbolic sadomasochist. The Sapphic stanza is a poetic form occasionally imitated by modern writers, including Swinburne's Sapphics.

Sappho is the name of the lesbian sister of protagonist Van Albert in L. E. Modesitt, Jr.'s The Ethos Effect.

Christine de Pizan praised Sappho in Part I, Chapter 30 of The Book of the City of Ladies.

The Italian composer Giovanni Pacini (1796-1867) composed an opera entitled Saffo for the San Carlo Theatre in Naples. It premiered on 29 November, 1840.

The French composer Charles Gounod's first opera entitled Sapho, was about the lyric poet.

Christina Stead wrote a short story about Sappho which is included in her book The Salzburg Tales.

Nancy Freedman wrote a novelisation of Sappho's life entitled Sappho: The Tenth Muse, incorporating surviving fragments of her poetry into the story.

The Polish poet Maria Pawlikowska-Jasnorzewska wrote the poems The Roses for Sappho.

Sarah Waters refers to Sappho and Sapphists in her novel, Tipping the Velvet.

Erica Jong wrote a novel about Sappho called Sappho's Leap.

Sappho figures heavily in the later books of William Carlos Williams' Paterson (poem).

[edit] Notes
^ See, for example, J. Fairweather, "Fiction in the biographies of ancient writers," Ancient Society 5 (1974); Mary R. Lefkowitz, The lives of the Greek poets, Johns Hopkins UP, 1981.
^ Holt Parker, "Sappho Schoolmistress" (orig. pub. Transactions of the American Philological Association 123 (1993), pp. 309-51.
^ For example, in Reading Sappho: Contemporary Approaches, ed. Ellen Greene, University of California Press, 1996: Mary Lefkowitz, "Critical Stereotypes and the Poetry of Sappho," pp. 28f. (the story of Sappho's death represents her as "deprived because of her hugliness of male attention...which she craves"); Judith Hallett, "Sappho and Her Social Context: Sense and Sensuality," pp. 126f., while sounding a note of caution about careless assumptions of Sappho's homosexuality, discusses the story of Sappho's sexual conversion and death in the context of "disbelief and disapproval" regarding accounts of her homosexuality, which such legends may aim to disprove; Eva Stehle, "Sappho's Gaze: Fantasies of a Goddess and Young Man," p. 195 n. 10, considers that "The story probably developed in fourth-century comedy."
^ Anne Pippin Burnett, Three Archaic Poets: Archilochus, Alcaeus, Sappho, Harvard UP, 1983.
^ Burnett, op. cit., p. 210
^ Hymn to Aphrodite, translation, and notes
^ Fragment 168b
^ Main fragments and translations
^ A New Poem by Sappho (from archive.org).
^ AOIDOI.org: Epic, Archaic and Classical Greek Poetry. Retrieved on October 30, 2005.
^ Partial image: http://cds.colleges.org//lecture_files/posidippuscols3-562.jpg. Retrieved on October 30, 2005.
^ Translations and notes are available: Diotima. Retrieved on October 30, 2005.
^ The Greek text: Center for Hellenic Studies - Epigrams. Retrieved on October 30, 2005.
^ Quintino Cataudella, "Saffo fr. 5 (5) – 6 (5) Diehl," Atene e Roma ser. 3 vol. 8 (1940), pp. 199-201. Cf. D.L. Page, Sappho and Alcaeus, Oxford, 1955, p. 37.
^ An example from book 2 of the collected edition: Virtual Exhibition. Retrieved on October 30, 2005.

[edit] References
Greek Lyric 1: Sappho and Alcaeus, D. A. Campbell (ed.), Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass., (1982) ISBN 0-674-99157-5 (Contains complete Greek text and English translation, including references to Sappho by ancient authors. A good starting-point for serious students who are new to this poetry.)
If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho by Anne Carson (Translator) Knopf (2002) ISBN 0-375-41067-8; also Virago Press Ltd, UK, ISBN 1-84408-081-1 (A modern bilingual edition for general readers as well as students of ancient Greek languages; N.Y. Times review)
Poetarum Lesbiorum fragmenta, E. Lobel, D. L. Page (eds.), Oxford, Clarendon Press, (1955).
Sappho: 100 Lyrics by Bliss Carman (1907). Public domain text available from Project Gutenberg [1]
Sappho: A New Translation by Mary Barnard, University of California Press; Reissue edition (June 1986) ISBN 0-520-22312-8
Sappho and the Greek Lyric Poets translated by Willis Barnstone, Schoken Books Inc., New York (paperback 1988) ISBN 0-8052-0831-3 (A collection of modern English translations suitable for a general audience, includes complete poems and fragments along with a brief history of each of the featured poets.)
Sappho Is Burning by Page DuBois, University of Chicago Press (1995) ISBN 0-226-16755-0
Sappho's Immortal Daughters by Margaret Williamson, Harvard University Press (1995) ISBN 0-674-78912-1
Sappho's Lyre: Archaic Lyric and Women Poets of Ancient Greece Translated by Diane Rayor, University of California Press (1991) ISBN 0-520-07336-3 (cloth); ISBN 0-520-07336-3 (paper)

[edit] External links
Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to:
SapphoWikimedia Commons has media related to:
SapphoTexts and translations
The Divine Sappho (Greek texts and several translations, with essays and criticism)
aoidoi.org (Greek texts with commentary by William Annis)
The Poems of Sappho, trans. E.M. Cox (1925 translation with Greek text and transliteration)
Sappho: One Hundred Lyrics, trans. Bliss Carman (1904 translation of 100 fragments)
Elpenor Anthology: Sappho (8 fragments, with Greek text, translated by "Elpenor" and H. T. Wharton)
The sound of Sappho? (MP3 audio of five fragments in Greek)
Sappho and the World of Lesbian Poetry, by William Harris, Prof. Em. of Classics, Middlebury College
Sappho from Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology (1867)
Greek and Roman love poetry, BBC Radio 4, In Our Time, 26 April 2007
Recording of Fragment 64, translated by Mary Barnard, from 'Evocation of Sappho' four fragments set to music, sung in English translation and performed by Joe Dolce, from the CD 'freelovedays', 26 April 2003.


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