This content uses functionality that is not supported by your current browser. Today, the woman celebrated by Plato as the 'Tenth Muse ' lends her name to a specific poetic form, called Sapphic verse, and is credited with originating some of our most familiar romantic ideas and phrases, such as the 'bittersweet' nature of love and its power to 'sting' like a bee. Many of the surviving fragments of Sappho contain only a single word  — for example, fragment A is simply a word meaning "wedding gifts",  and survives as part of a dictionary of rare words. Sappho Because Sappho sometimes expresses passionate sentiments for young girls, she is often called "lesbian" in our sense of the word. Papyrus fragments Bridgeman Images In the 20th Century, Sappho's works were more widely taught than ever, fostering a renewed appreciation of her talents.
Sappho is not only one of the few women poets we know of from antiquity, but also is one of the greatest lyric poets from any age. A new influential version of her poetry appeared in English and her work found a wider audience. She is said, for example, to have been married to Cercylas, a wealthy man from the island of Andros. Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema 's Sappho and Alcaeus above portrays her staring rapturously at her contemporary Alcaeus; images of a lesbian Sappho, such as Simeon Solomon 's painting of Sappho with Erinna below , were much less common in the nineteenth century. Psappho Sappho, also spelled in the Aeolic dialect spoken by the poet Psappho, born c. She was first and foremost an artist, revered by the intellectual elite. But many scholars challenge this claim, finding evidence in the Greek words of the bawdry of later Comic poets. In this woodcut, illustrating an early incunable of Boccaccio's De mulieribus claris, she is portrayed surrounded by books and musical instruments. She was born around B. Later generations were often hostile to woman-girl relationships, but it is very likely that in sixth-century Mytilene, this type of love was not frowned upon. In the ode to Aphrodite, the poet invokes the goddess to appear, as she has in the past, and to be her ally in persuading a girl she desires to love her. She ranks with Archilochus and Alcaeus , among Greek poets, for her ability to impress readers with a lively sense of her personality. Because almost none of her poems is complete, it is hard to understand them, and many interpretations tell us more about the classicist than about the author, who lived c. In the early seventeenth century, John Donne wrote "Sapho to Philaenis", returning to the idea of Sappho as a hypersexual lover of women. A fragment from Sappho that is dedicated to Charaxus has survived. Academics began translating and studying the fragments. Some scholars believe she wrote her poems for women and girls belonging to the cult of Aphrodite, which would have celebrated female milestones like puberty, marriage and childbirth. A tradition going back at least to Menander Fr. In , it was announced that two new fragments were discovered, and although the circumstances of the discovery remain unclear, the discoverer claims they are authentic. They speak simply and directly to the "bittersweet" difficulties of love. She has the ability to stand aloof and judge critically her own ecstasies and grief, and her emotions lose nothing of their force by being recollected in tranquillity. Although the bulk of her poetry has been lost, she was well-known and greatly admired throughout antiquity as one of the greatest of lyric poets, and her immense reputation has endured through surviving fragments. Today Sappho, for many, is a symbol of female homosexuality;  the common term lesbian is an allusion to Sappho, originating from the name of the island of Lesbos , where she was born. Singing, dancing, and poetry played a central role in this educational process and other cultural occasions. In antiquity Sappho's poetry was highly admired, and several ancient sources refer to her as the "tenth Muse".
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