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A herma of Sappho

Sappho was an Ancient Greek lyrical poet. She was born between 630 and 612 BC, on the island of Lesbos, which is where the word lesbian comes from. Her parents were aristocrats so she was rich enough to go to school. She later had a school where young women received an education before marriage.

Little is known for certain about her life, except that her poetry was highly thought of. Unfortunately, most of it has been lost.

Sappho's poetry centers on passion and love for both men and women. The narrators of her poems often speak of infatuations and love for various females. Descriptions of physical acts between women are few and open to debate.[1][2] 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. It would be like her style to have these intimate encounters expressed poetically.[3]

References[change | change source]

  1. Denys Page, Sappho and Alcaeus, Oxford UP, 1959, pp. 142-146.
  2. Campbell D.A. (ed) 1982. Greek Lyric 1: Sappho and Alcaeus. Loeb Classical Library #142. Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-99157-5. Contains complete Greek text of poems and fragments; and all references to Sappho by ancient authors which were were known at the time, with English translations.
  3. Burnett, Anne Pippin 1983. Three archaic poets: Archilochus, Alcaeus, Sappho. Harvard.

Other websites[change | change source]