Sappho was a Greek poet during the 7th Century B.C.
Saphho was Plato's tenth muse.
- Sappho was a girl born to a family of aristocrats on the island of Lesbos.
- When she grew up, Sappho became a talented lyrical poet who developed her own meter of poetry that is today known as the Sapphic meter.
- Most of the poetry that she wrote was written during the 42nd Olympiad period and her words were always set to some sort of music. This was odd during her days since poetry was not often written down or recorded in other ways. Poetry of her time was simply recited and memorized.
- Sappho is said to receive partial credit for turning the theme of the time away from the gods and focusing on the individual human experience.
- Sappho was considered a unique individual for her time and continued to write poetry and expressing herself with words despite what anyone thought.
- Perhaps it was her background and the tragedy she dealt with in life that made her such a great writer. Sappho lost her father at a young age and was the only woman in her household besides her mother (she had only three siblings all of which were male. )
Poetry and Works of Sappho
- It was not until three hundred years after Sappho died that her poetry was collected.
- After gathering all of her poetry, her writings were put into nine separate books and were stored at the Library of Alexandria.
- The writings of Sappho were not very popular at the time, primarily because her poetry often discussed her love and passion for other women. In fact, her poetry was perhaps the first ever example of lesbian poetry.
- In 308 AD, the works of Sappho were burned under the order of the Pope by Christians who believed her writings and poetry to be blasphemy against the church.
- More were burned in 1073 AD under the direction of the Pope again for the same reason.
- Many of Sappho’s poems were very long, sometimes more than one hundred lines in length.
- Despite trying to collect complete works, some of them could only be partially recovered. So far to date approximately 264 partial poems have been discovered written on papyrus in Egypt. However, only 63 of these poems are represented in their entirety.
- Most of the poems that Sappho wrote were written in the Aeolic dialect.
- Today, thanks to additional discoveries of papyrus in Egypt, we know more about Sapphos than ever before. Many consider Sappho’s poetry to define the different culture of the time that existed in Mytilene because her poetry showed how society here was different than the society that existed in other parts of Greece and showed the role of women in an aristocratic society.
fl. early 6th cent. ; Gr. lyric poet of Lesbos
fl. c. 600 BC
Greek lyric poet whose work, noted for its passionate and erotic celebration of the beauty of young women and men, survives only in fragments.
Roman fresco from Pompeii