Sappho - Selected Poems

Sappho (630 BC–570 BC), translated by Theodoridis, George (contributor-contact-email)

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Sappho, an Archaic Greek poet from Lesbos, was renowned for her lyric poetry, composed for musical accompaniment. Celebrated as one of history’s finest lyric poets, her work, believed total around 10,000 lines, survives mostly in fragments, with the exception of the complete Ode to Aphrodite. She hailed from a wealthy family in Mytilene on the island of Lesbos, but was likely exiled to Sicily around 600 BC - ostensibly for political reasons. Sappho possibly remained active until around 570 BC. Modern scholarship considers the legendary account of her suicide, by leaping from the Leucadian cliffs, to be apocryphal. Sappho’s verse focused on themes of love, family, and faith, often expressing personal sentiment for solo performances. Her writing, praised for its vivid imagery and emotional depth, secured posthumous recognition as part of the Nine Lyric Poets canon in Hellenistic Alexandria. Sappho’s legacy endures, inspiring writers and symbolising female love, with the terms ‘sapphic’ and ‘lesbian’ originating from her name and that of her island of birth, Lesbos. This translation presents a selection of Sappho’s poems.

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Theodoridis, George

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