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Kirstin Farley

on 13 November 2013

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Transcript of Sappho

Gender Questions
Are gender roles determined by society or nature?

Is the dominance of one gender stated or taken for granted?
Hymn to Aphrodite & Ode to Atthis
Spartan or Athenian?
Sappho is more closely related to Athenians
Lived on Lesbos
Important because its why she believed and wrote so much about Aphrodite and Eros
Unlike Sparta, Athens reached out to control all other states in Greece
Women in Athens were traditional and had good morals to teach, like Sappho did
Women in Sparta were rebellious and independent of men
Hymn to Aphrodite
Ode to Atthis
Iridescent- throned Aphrodite, deathless
Child of Zeus, wile- weaver , I now implore you ,
Don't -- I beg you, Lady- - with pains and torments
Crush down my spirit ,
Deathless face alight with your smile, you asked me What I suffered, who was my cause of anguish, What would ease the pain of my frantic mind, and Why had I called you
To my side: "And whom should Persuasion summon Here, to soothe the sting of your passion this time? Who is now abusing you, Sappho? Who is Treating you cruelly?
Now she runs away, but she'll soon pursue you; Gifts she now rejects--soon enough she'll give them; Now she doesn't love you, but soon her heart will Burn, though unwilling.
Come to me once more, and abate my torment; Take the bitter care from my mind, and give me All I long for; Lady, in all my battles Fight as my comrade.

Very few details of her life survived
Many details available are thoroughly interwoven with legend, myth and supposition
Born: Between 630 and 612 BCE (Before the Common Era) in Lesbos, Greek
Spent rest of her life in Mytilene
Died: 570 BCE in Lesbos, Greek
Legends say that she lived to old age
They say that she fell hopelessly in love with Phaon (young sailor)
Disappointed by their failed love affair, she leaped to her death from a high cliff
Father: Scamandronymus
Mother: Cleis
Evidence shows that she had 3 brothers
Larichus: a wine bearer in the town hall of Mytilene
Charaxus: a merchant (loved a prostitute in Egypt)
Her family belonged to upper class
Sappho married a wealthy man named Cercylas
Said to have had a daughter named Cleis
I loved you, Atthis, once, many years ago!
My blood was flame that thrilled to passion's throe;
Now long neglect has quenched the olden fire,
And blight of drifting years effaced desire.
I loved you, Atthis, once, long years ago!
With pain whose surge I felt to anguish grow;
Suffered the storms that waste the heart and leave
A desert shore where seas but break to grieve.
I loved you, Atthis—spring of long ago—
Watched you depart, to Andromeda go;
Then I, as keen despair its shadow cast,
O’er my deserted threshold, sobbing, passed.

What does it mean?
Stanza 1
The speaker, who is assumed to be a female, begins speaking highly of Aphrodite's, the goddess of love, power.
It is mentioned that Aphrodite is a "wile-weaver" which can be translated to mean cunning and/or deceiving.
The speaker begs Aphrodite not to ignore her tormented pain.
Stanza 2
Aphrodite asks why she has been requested and what is the speaker suffering of.
Stanza 3
The unknown speaker reveals herself as Sappho.
Sappho loves someone that does not share the same feelings towards her.
Aphrodite asks who she must persuade in reciprocating feelings towards Sappho.

Stanza 4
Aphrodite will ease Sappho's distress.
Within her power, she will make the person that Sappho desires love her back.
Stanza 5
Sappho asks Aphrodite to take away her pain and to always help her in her time of need.

Fragment #4
"Honest, I want to die," she said to me.
She was in tears when she went away,

Said to me not once but many times:
"Sappho, why must we suffer so?
It's not by choice; I don't want to leave you here."

And I, this is what I said to answer her:
"Farewell. Go in peace. But remember me.
Don't ever forget how well I took care of you.

If you do, let me recall to you

All the good days we had together ,

The wreathes you wore, of roses and violets
As we lay side by side, the necklaces
Woven from flowers to drape your soft shoulders,

The perfume, precious, fit for royalty

How much you used, to anoint yourself!

The soft bed (where) you would satisfy....desire...

Literary Criticism of Fragment #4
"Poem number four can be seen to express the sadness that women feel as they make the transition into marriage."
Different outlook.
Fragment #6
Some there are who say that the fairest seen on the black earth is an array of horsemen; some, men marching; some would say ships; but I say she whom one loves best

is the loveliest. Light were the work to make thing plain to all, since she, who surpassed in beauty all mortality, Helen, once forsaking her lordly husband,

fled away to Troy-land across the water.
Not the thought of child nor beloved parents
was remembered, after the Queen of Cyprus
won her as first sight.

Since young brides have hearts that can be persuaded easily, light things, palpitant to passion as am I, remembering Anaktoria
who has gone from me

and whose lovely walk and the shining pallor
of her face , I would rather see before me
eyes than Lydia's chariots in all their glory
armored for battle.

Literary Criticism #6
"...she rejects the so-called 'romance' of war, violence, and battle, and declares her love domesticity, beauty, and peace."
Sappho's passion for love.
Aristotle's Poetics
Aristotle created the "discipline of poetics"
Aristotle proposed "to treat of Poetry in itself and of its various kinds, noting the essential quality of each, to inquire into the structure of the plot as requisite to a good poem; into the number and nature of the parts of which a poem is composed; and similarly into whatever else falls within the same inquiry."
In this, he analyzed issues of gender, representation, decorum, interpretation, and literary devices
Sappho reveals elements of Aristotle's Poetics in her poetry
she, unlike most female writers, put philisophical themes from Pre-Socratic thinkers like Thales and Anaximander
Although she did not have the organized system of ideas like Aristotle, she still used inquiry into issues of gender and interpretation
she did organize her poems into a meter consisting of 11 syllables in the first 3 lines and 5 syllables in the last line for each stanza.
- Giving human qualities to non- human things.
Ex. "And whom should Persuasion summon here to sooth the sting of your passion this time"?
Aphrodite is speaking as though persuasion is a human, and that he/she will make Sappho feel better.
- Exaggeration.
Ex. "Don't-- I beg you, Lady-- with pains and torments, crush down my spirit."
Sappho speaks as though she is suffering so much that it is not only deteriorating her mental state, but her physical state as well.
- Despair.
Ex. "Come to me once more, and abate my torment. Take the bitter care from my mind, and give me all I long for."
Sappho is sending out a cry of help for Aphrodite to get rid of her pain and suffering.
Poetic Devices
How does it relate to essential questions?
It relates to the question, "what is the point of out existence? Of striving and struggling for our goals?
Also, "why do people need each other?"
How does it relate to essential questions?
What is the point of our existence?
Sappho's Writings
Expressed human emotions with honesty, courage, and skill
Her passionate verses and attitudes toward love have attracted a great deal of attention and garnered rumors about her sexual preference
Sappho was familiar with Homer and also poets like Terpander, Alcaeus & Archilochus
Sappho’s verses were highly personal, conveying deeply felt emotion in a simple, translucent style
Composed narrative poetry, hymns, and epithalamia, or marriage songs
The speaker in the poems, generally assumed to be Sappho herself
The speaker shows a wide range of emotion, from tender protectiveness and friendship to erotic longing and jealousy
from playful chiding of her pupils to extreme anger toward those who have proven disloyal
Sapphic meter: consists of four lines; the first three lines call for 11 syllables and the fourth line consists of five syllables
Other Information...
Ran an academy (Thiasos) for unmarried young women
Academy was devoted to the cult of Aphrodite and Eros, where beauty and grace were held as the highest values
Referred to as “the Poetess”
Plato hailed her as “the tenth Muse”
Was honored on coins and with civic statuary
The opinion that Sappho’s sexual orientation was lesbian is so entrenched that the term itself is derived from the name of her homeland (Lesbos).
Description: “Violet-haired, pure, honey-smiling Sappho” -Alcaeus (Aeolian poet)
Corrupted girls and instructed them in homosexual practices
Sappho is a radical (feminist, wants love not war)
After reading Ode to Atthis, you have now gained the key to individual's heart. This poem was about a love that went wrong. In your groups, you will portray what you believe is inside their heart by drawing and coloring it on the sheet given to you.
Sappho lived any interesting life.
Poetry focused on her love for women.
Poems relate to gender essential questions and existentialism questions.
Writing Style
Aristotle's Poem
Spartan or Athenian?
Poems (1-4)
Literary Criticism
Poetic Devices & Examples
Class Activity
Gender Questions
Full transcript