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.
The Death of Sappho by Miguel Carbonell Selva, 1881
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
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
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.