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Thursday, March 01, 2007

Sappho (by Castor)

SAPPHO, the one great woman poet of the world, who called herself Psappha in her own Aeolic dialect, is said to have been at the zenith of her fame about the year 610 B.C.

During her lifetime Jeremiah first began to prophesy (628 B.C.), Daniel was carried away to Babylon (606 B.C.), Nebuchadnezzar besieged and captured Jerusalem (587 B.C.), Solon was legislating at Athens, and Tarquinius Priscus, the fifth king, is said to have been reigning over Rome. She lived before the birth of Gautama, the (founder of Buddhism, the religion now professed by perhaps almost a third of the whole population of the globe.

That she was a native of Lesbos, an island in the Aegean sea, is universally admitted; and all but those writers who speak of a second Sappho say she lived at Mitylene, the chief city of the island. The existence of a Sappho who was a courtesan of Ersus, a smaller Lesbian city, besides the poetess of Mitylene, is the invention of comparatively late authors; and it is probably due to their desire to detach the calumnies, which the Comic poets so long made popular, from the personality of the poetess to whose good name her own contemporaries bore witness.


The stars about the lovely moon
Fade back and vanish very soon,
When, round and full, her silver face
Swims into sight, and lights all space.

(Translated by J. A. Symonds, 1883)


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