Sappho, againPosted: February 5, 2023 Filed under: heroes, women Leave a comment
There is so little of Sappho that the reader with beginner’s Greek can read the substantial fragments in an afternoon.
so says Guy Davenport.
Translated into English the fragments constitute fourteen hundred words* or so, less than the menu at Musso & Frank. Yet we know her name two thousand six hundred years after she died. Fragments of Sappho were found in the wrappings of mummies and in the great trash heap of Oxyrhunchus.
The Sappho mystique is further confounded by later testimonies such as the 10th century Byzantine encyclopedia called the Suda (or the Stronghold), which chronicled the history of the ancient Mediterranean. In one of two entries on Sappho, readers are informed that she was in love with a ferryman by the name of Phaon whose rejection of her caused her to leap to her death from the Leucadian Cliff.
This apocryphal history, which emerged in antiquity, went on to inspire artists, poets and playwrights for hundreds of years, despite the strange origins of Phaon as a figure of myth and legend. In the second entry on Sappho in the Suda, it is stated that Sappho was married, had a daughter by the name of Cleis, and was also a lover of women.
That from here.
Hang on a second Guy, what’s the Greek original here?:
If you know where my copy of Mary Barnard’s translation is, let me know, I couldn’t find it, but luckily some fragments are preserved here, by me, on my own website. Ever thus. As for the paper copy? I hope it’s with you.
* I think that’s about right, might be a little off