Who was Sappho?

Sappho, in ancient times, was widely regarded as one of the greatest lyric poets; most of her poems were written to be sung while accompanied by music, and were passed down over the centuries.

She was born around 615 B.C. to an aristocratic family on the Greek island of Lesbos. She was so famous that statues were raised and ceramics fashioned in her honor.

The Sappho bust appeared on coins of two cities of the island of Lesbos, Mytilene and Eresu.

Very little is known of her life and of the nine volumes of her work, only 650 lines survived.

She was exiled to Sicily around 600 BC, because some kind of political conflict arose and her family got involved.

The story about her death is that she killed herself by leaping from the Leucadian cliffs due to her love for the ferryman Phaon.

Obljewellery, inspired by the paintings “The Death of Sappho” by Miguel Carbonell  Selva and “Sappho on the Leucadian Cliff” by Pierre Narcisse Guerin,  created jewellery handmade from sustainable wood.

Obljewellery, inspired by the paintings “The Death of Sappho” by Miguel Carbonell  Selva  created jewellery handmade from sustainable wood.

The Death of Sappho by Miguel Carbonell Selva, 1881


Sappho on the Leucadian Cliff by Pierre-Narcisse Guérin , French painter

Sappho on the Leucadian Cliff by Pierre-Narcisse Guérin,1800 


Women lived controlled lives in ancient cultures with limited access to formal education. A girl was only to taught basic skills in reading, writing and arithmetic, to run a household once she was married-off, but Sappho’s works  indicate that in Mytilene, the city where she born, women – at least from her privileged social standing – had access to a formal education that included training in choral composition, musical accomplishment and performance.

Sappho was a prolific poet,

The style of the poem varied from epic narratives to personal sentimental narratives.

Sentiments of love and desire, mostly directed towards women, were almost always the main theme.

She is well known as a symbol of love and desire between women.

The English words Sapphic and lesbian deriving from her name and that of her home island respectively.



 The midnight poem is a fragment of Greek lyric poetry; it is possibly by the archaic Greek poet Sappho, The poem, four lines describing a woman alone at night, is one of the best-known surviving pieces of Greek lyric poetry.


Sappho: Midnight Poem (Fragment 48)


“The moon and the Pleiades have set,

it is midnight,

time is passing,

but I sleep alone.”


Sappho 31 is an archaic Greek lyric poem where Sappho describing  her love for a young woman.

"That man seems to me to be equal to the gods

who is sitting opposite you

and hears you nearby

speaking sweetly


and laughing delightfully, which indeed

makes my heart flutter in my breast;

for when I look at you even for a short time,

it is no longer possible for me to speak


but it is as if my tongue is broken

and immediately a subtle fire has run over my skin,

I cannot see anything with my eyes,

and my ears are buzzing


a cold sweat comes over me, trembling

seizes me all over, I am paler

than grass, and I seem nearly

to have died.


but everything must be dared/endured, since (?even a poor man) ..."


Sappho 94, sometimes known as Sappho's Confession, is a fragment of a poem by the archaic Greek poet Sappho. The poem is written as a conversation between Sappho and a woman who is leaving her, perhaps in order to marry, and describes a series of memories of their time together.



“Honestly, I would like to die.”

She was leaving me, saying goodbye, her cheeks

 wet with tears, and she said to me:

“What a cruel unhappiness,

Sappho, I swear that I leave you against my will.”

This is what I replied to her:

“Go, fare well, and remember me,

 for you certainly know how we cared for you.

 If you don’t, why then, I would like to remind you …

                       …  and the beautiful times we had:

for with many a crown of roses

mixed with crocus and violets

 you were garlanded while you were at my side

and with many a flower necklace

you encircled your tender throat,

plaiting blossoms together to make a wreath,

and with flowery perfumes …

precious, queenly …

you anointed yourself …

and on beds of soft luxury

you would satisfy all your longing

for that tender girl …

the poetry of Sappho

Never was there a festival

at a shrine or a temple where

we were absent

… nor a grove or a dance…




I don’t know what to do.

 I have two thoughts.




 I don’t expect to touch the sky.




Not one girl, I think, will ever look on the sunlight of another time who has such talent as this one does.





But you, O Dika, wreathe lovely garlands in your hair,


Weave shoots of dill together, with slender hands,


For the Graces prefer those who are wearing flowers,


And turn away from those who go uncrowned.

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