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The Tenth Muse: Sapphos Poetry and Influence by Kali Rainwater A Thesis Submitted to the Division of Humanities New College of Florida in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Bachelor of Arts Under the sponsorship of Carl Shaw Sarasota, Florida May 2009
Table of Contents Introduction: Sappho and Her World 1 Chapter 1: Love in Translation 10 Chapter 2: Masculine Sappho: Sapp hos Place in the Lyric Genre 26 Chapter 3: The Sapphic Muse: Sapphos Influence on Catullus 39 Conclusion 53 Appendix: Pronunciation of the Greek Alphabet 55 Bibliography 60
1 Introduction: Sappho and Her W orld A map of ancient Greece.1 1 Map taken from http://www.greeka.c om/greece-maps/ancient-greece-map.htm
2 Sappho was a lyric poet who lived on the isle of Lesbos in the second half of the 7th century B.C.2 Few details of her life survive, and what information is available is often contradictory. Some comes from rumor; other has been derived from a study of her poems themselves. The main ancient source for information on Sappho is the Suda, a tenth-century encyclopedia which treats all anci ent sources as irrefutable fact. It makes no distinction between relia ble histories, information inferred from the poems themselves, and other sources such as comic plays. The legend of Sappho is vast. She was the earliest woman writer in the Western tradition whose works have su rvived to the present day.3 Myth has it the early church ordered her books to be burnt, which is why so few fragments have survived.4 According to the Suda, she was either born or flourished (the Greek verb is ambiguous) between 612 and 608 B.C.5 Other sources name 630 as the year of her birth, making it likely that the correct interpretation is flourished which would put her around 20 at the height of her career.6 Sappho was regarded as famous by 600 B.C.7 She was exiled to Sicily sometime between 604 and 595 B.C., which makes it likel y that she or someone close to her was involved in politics.8 Ancient texts disagree as to the names of Sapphos family. Her fathers name may have been Scamander, or Scamandronymus, or Simon, or Eumenus, or Eerigyius, or Ecrytus, or Semus, of Camus, or Etarchus; her mothers name, it was agreed, was Cleis, after whom she named her daughter. An O xyrhynchus papyrus names her brothers as 2 Oxford Classical Dictionary 1355. 3 Snyder, The Woman and the Lyre 1. 4 Gordon, in Sappho: poems and fragments v. 5 Suda in Campbell, Greek Lyric 5. 6 The Cambridge History of Classical Literature 203. 7 Eusebius, Chronicle in Campbell, Greek Lyric 9. 8 The Cambridge History of Classical Literature 203.
3 Erigyius, Larichus, and Charaxus. The sam e fragment describes her as being small and dark, quite ugly. This, like the name of her supposed husband, calls up images from Greek comedy, where any physical difference was wont to be exaggerated for comic effect. The one thing known for certain is that she was a native of the isle of Lesbos. As shown on the map above, Lesbos is the third-la rgest island in the Aeg ean Sea, located not far from Lydia, now the Turkish mainland. Sa ppho wrote her poetry on her native Lesbos in the seventh century B.C. Although relativel y few of her poems survive (one complete poem and slightly over 200 fragments, rangi ng in length from singl e words to nearly complete poems, out of a corpus of nine books9), her fame survives in everyday discourse, with the phrase Sapphic love and the term lesbia n. She served as a source of inspiration for the Roman poet Catullus, and her poetry, in its many translations, speaks to people even today. She may or may not have been married; she may or may not have had a daughter and a brother. If Sappho did have a daughter her name was most likely Cleis. Sappho mentions Cleis in her poetry with affection:I have a beautiful child, graceful as golden flowers, my precious Cleis, for whom I w ould not (take) all of Lydia or lovely...10 According to the Cambridge, this means that [s]he certainly had a daughter,11 but Gordon is not so certain. She argues that pais the word for child, does not necessarily mean daughter. It can also mean slave or companion.12 9 Campbell, Greek Lyric xiii. 10 Tr. David Campbell, Greek Lyric. 11 The Cambridge History of Classical Literature 203. 12 Gordon, in Sappho: poems and fragments xii-xiii.
4 Besides th is, it is a mistake to assume th at simply because Cleis is mentioned in Sapphos poetry, she must have be en real. In the words of Eva Stehle, One must keep in mind that the I of a poem is not necessar[ily] the I of the poet at all.13 Or, as Judith Hallett puts it, One should not, therefore, a ssume that Sapphos poems in the first person are autobiographical, even if our ancient au thorities on Sapphos life often do just that. A distinction between Sappho and her poetic persona may well often exist, as it so often exists in the verses of her male poetic colleagues.14 Anything that appears in Sapphos poetry must be taken cum grano salis for its primary purpose was to entertain, not to tell the story of Sapphos life. The name given to Sapphos husband in the Suda is Kerkylas, and he is said to be from Andros. However, Kerkylas is very similar to kerkos, a Greek word meaning penis and Andros, while a real Greek island, also means man As Holt Parker points out, Kerkylas is an etymologically sound name, and Andros was a real island; but the combination of the two together is unlikely at best.15 Thus Kerkylas of Andros is likely an invention of a comic poet, and not Sapphos husband at all.16 Sapphos poetry was written for an audi ence. The very term lyric poetry is derived from the word lyre, because this type of poetr y was written to be sung to instrumental accompaniment. By definition, it was performative. The intended audience would have shared Sapphos values and culture. The audience also would have been familiar with other lyric poets of the time. 13 Eva Stehle, Romantic Sensuality, Poetic Sense. 14 Hallett, Sappho and Her Social Context. 15 Parker, Sappho Schoolmistress. 16 Gordon, in Sappho: poems and fragments xii.
5 Sappho was not a poet w riting alone, uni nfluenced by the outer world. She was part of a greater tradit ion of lyric poets. An overview of these poets is provided here as a reference point for Sappho and her poetry. Lyric poetry (Greek lurikov" ) got its name because it was written to be accompanied by the lyre. It did not exist as an acknowledged category of poetry until Helenistic times. Writers contemporary to Sappho would have termed the poems melos, meaning song. Though originally referring to songs accompanied by the lyre, the term was widened to encompass other stringed instruments and the flute, but it alwa ys refers to sung poetry. The age of lyric poetry begins in the 7th century B.C., although it comes from long tradition of Greek song, such as paeans and choral dance. The names of these early writers do not survive, making it likely that th ey were part of a folk-song tradition. It is only in the 7th century that named poets of lyric poetry begin to emerge.17 Lyric poetry could be written in several different meters, unlike epic, which is always in dactylic hexameter, or trage dy, which is written in iambic trimeter.18 The diction, or word choice, also varies. Each lyric poet uses a native dialect, akin to popular music today, with country in the Southern dialect and rap in Black English Vernacular. The dialect of ancient Greek typically ta ught in schools today is Attic. This was the dialect spoken in Athens at the height of its supremacy over the Greek world, the dialect in which Plato wrote hi s famous Dialogues. It is also the dialect used most often by the great playwrights of ancient Greece, w ho wrote their plays to be performed at festivals in Athens. 17 Oxford Classical Dictionary 899. 18 M. L. West, Greek Metre
6 It has been argued that S appho ran a school for young girls. When she sings to her companions in fr. 160, they are feminine. The Suda names three of her students, and a commentator remarks that she taught the best girls both from the local region and Ionia. Her songs mention rival groups, which her poetr y seems to imply existed, even if they were only in the collective mind of poet a nd audience. However, as Parker points out, nowhere in any poem does Sappho teach, or speak about teaching, anything to anyone.19 Yet, according to Dover, in the Gr eek world those who could not only did but also taught.20 That is, whoever had skills not only put them to use, but also taught them to others. A poet like Sappho would have passed her skills on to others. While it now seems unlikely that the common view of Sappho as headmistress of an ancient Greek finishing school is co rrect, as a poet of some not e she could well have taught informally to a close-knit group of companions. These companions would have formed a chorus for various social ceremonies. Sapphos house or group, like most of the female choruses of the archaic period, was co mposed of young girls and, beside the epithalamia21 themselves, were probably composed for wedding ceremonies; her poems mostly speak of parthenoi korai or paides22that is, virgins, girls, or children. There is a debate about Sapphos sexual or ientation, which has questionable value in interpreting her poetry. We know she was a Lesbian, from the isle of Lesbos, but was she a lesbian as well? Her poetry includes homoerotic themes; poem 1 is clearly about Sapphos desire for another woman: Whom this time do I persuade/ To lead you back into her love? Who, O/ Sappho, wrongs you?/ For if she flees, soon she will pursue. To 19 Parker, Sappho Schoolmistress. 20 K. J. Dover, Greek Homosexuality 175. 21 An epithalamion (plural epithalamia) was a poem in honor of a bride or bridegroom. 22 Calame, Sapphos Group.
7 the casu al reader, this clearly illustrates that Sappho was inclined toward homosexuality. However, as mentioned before, her poems cannot be taken at face value. Even the word homosexuality is inappropriate in the c ontext of her world, a topic which will be covered later. Sappho was writing in a time when women wr iters were rare. Men dominated the literary world, and it was their work that set the standard for greatness. Sappho may simply have been writing the sorts of things th at were popular at the ti me, i.e., love poetry where the object of desire was a woman. That way male readers could put themselves in the position of the author, as Catullus did when he re-wrote fr. 31 in Latin. Sappho has been referred to as masculine by ancient authors.23 This may indicate her position among fellow poets as one of the guysher writing is similar, about similar topics, and she understands their woes. This does not necessarily mean she actually felt desire for other women. She could simply be following in the tradition of the male poets of her time. That is not to say Sappho could not have felt desire for her fellow women, nor would her fellow Greeks necessarily have found that odd. The Greeks did not categorize sexual orientation into homosexual versus heterosexual, as modern Europeans are wont to do; rather they made th e distinction between domin ant versus submissive.24 Sapphos love poetry is invariably of the dominant variety; she is th e pursuer in the relationship, putting her in the masculine role. Even where there is ambiguity over who is dominant in the relationship, as when Aphrodite tells her in fr. 1 that the object of her desire will soon be pursuing her, Sappho is the instigator; Sappho pursued first, and the girl fled. (For if she flees, soon she will pursue.) She treats the men she praises as women are treated 23 Porphyrio on Horace Epistles in Campbell, Greek Lyric 19. 24 Dover, Greek Homosexuality 100-109.
8 elsewhere: To what shall I com pare you, d ear bridegroom? I shall compare you to a slender sapling,25contrasted with Odysseus compar ison of the princess Nausikaa to a graceful young tree.26 This, too, would make her accepted among the male poets as one of them, regardless of whether the object of her desire was male or female. By taking the dominant, masculine role, she associates herself with the successful male poets, rather than with unsuccessful women who depend upon men to take care of them. It is not necessarily a bad thing that so little is k nown for certain about Sapphos life. Her poetry was written for performance, and the specific audience for which it was intended most likely had no knowledge of th e poets life story, nor would they have needed this information. A wedding poem may be better understood if one knows who is getting married, because it may have specific references to the bride and the groom; in this case, the writers life is unimportant. A love poem intended solely for the beloved requires knowledge of the romantic relations hip to be understood; a love poem intended to be read by a large audience must by necessi ty be accessible to those who have little to no knowledge of the proceeding relationship. In fact, a real relations hip is not necessary at all; it could be entirely in the writers hea d, and the poetry would be just as meaningful to those who read it. The information most im portant to an understa nding of her poetry is information that would have been readily av ailable to her contem poraries, her intended audience. Who she loved, and at what timeher contemporaries would not have been privy to this information, and neither need the modern reader. The most important thing to understand is that Sapphos world was diffe rent than ours, but the people were the 25 Fr. 115, tr. David Campbell, Greek Lyric. 26 Gordon, in Sappho: poems and fragments xxii.
9 sam e. She did not share our soci al strictures, but she did shar e our emotions, and that is what her poetry is about.
10 Chapter 1 Love in Translation Any translator is inv ariably faced with difficult choices, for example, which meaning to give a particular word, or how best to render an idiom. Translators of dead languages such as Greek and Latin face even more difficulties, because there are no native speakers to consult about such matters. In translati ng poetry, another level of difficulty arises: poems render information not only in their words but also in their structure, the rhyme scheme and scansion. A precisely translated poem fails to capture the true meaning of the original, especial ly if the poem is actually a song. Music can convey as much information as the words themselves. In translating poetry, one mu st decide how closely to adhere to the original rhythm. With songs, the answer is obvious: adhere as closely as possible, so the translation can be sung to the original tune With written poems, the answer is not so clear. Although Sapphos poems were written to be sung to the accompaniment of the lyre, the music has not survived and, thus, a rendering in English in a different meter may be just as meaningful as the original Greek. The challenge, then, is to choose the correct meter, and for this there is no one right answer. A rhyming iambic meter may convey the same sense of familiarity to the modern English reader that Sapphos lyric meter conveyed to the ancient Greek. Or the tran slator could choose th e route of wondering which meter Sappho herself would have chosen for this poem, were she writing it in English.
11 Sapphos meter had several defining charac teristics, m any of which differed from later lyric poets. In her poetry, the number of syllables per line is fixed, that is, there is no resolution (substitution of two short syllables for one long syllable) or contraction (substitution of one long syllable for two shor t syllables). The lines are easily divisible into cola,27 series of short and long syllables, certain of which begin with a double anceps (a syllable which can be either short or long). The cola can be extended by adding an iamb (anceps long short long) to the beginni ng or end, or adding (l ong short long) to the beginning or (short long long) to the end. They can also be expanded internally, by choriambic or dactylic expansion, whereby the internal sequence is repeated once, twice, or three times.28 Sappho favors what is known unsurpr isingly as the Sapphic meter, which consists of three lines of long-short-long followed by a hagesichorean colon, and a fourth line of a single adonean colon. This is the meter she uses for poems 1, 16, 31, and 34 below. Sappho wrote her poetry in her native dialec t, as per lyric tradition. The Aeolic dialect of Lesbos differs from the traditional Attic dialect studied by scholars in several 27 The cola are as follows (a stands for anceps, s for short, l for long): Glyconic (a a l s s l s l) Pherecratean (a a l s s l l) Telesillean (a l s s l s l) Reizianum (a l s s l l) Hipponactean (a a l s s l s l l) Hagesichorean (a l s s l s l l) Aristophanean (l s s l s l l) Dodrans (l s s l s l) Adonean (l s s l l) Penthemimer (a l s l l) Trochaic dimeter (l s l a l s l l) Lekythion (l s a l s l) Ithyphallic (l s l s l l) Ionic dimeter (s s l l s s l l) Anacreontic (s s l s l s l l) Iambic dimeter (a l s l a l s l) Iambic dimeter catalectic (a l s l s l l) 28 West, Greek Metre 29-32.
12 ways which pose difficulties for the am ateur reader of her works. There are no rough breathingsno aspirations at the beginnings of words. To the speaker of English, this is equivalent to dropping every initial h in a persons speech. (The connotation, however, differs; Sappho was not writing in the Greek e quivalent of Cockney.) Vowels are not consistent with Attic; epsilon and alpha ar e interchangeable, ups ilon can replace omicron, omicron can replace alpha, and alpha can re place eta. Certain consonant combinations also vary. Besides simple pronunciation (and th us spelling) differences, the vocabulary is also slightly different. As in dialects of English, some Greek words are only found in certain dialects, and others take on new mean ings depending on where they are used. For example, the word uJpevr is not found in the Lesbian dialect, so periv is used in its place. When Sappho says periV ga'" melaivna" she means over the black earth, not around it.29 There is a certain elegance to Sapphos poetry that is all too easily lost in English. The vocabulary is relatively simple, with a few new words coined from common Greek elements. The fluidity of Greek word orde r allows her to arrange sentences for the greatest effect. This is all but impossible in English. An English ad jective separated too far from its noun cannot be linked back to it by the reader, because there is nothing to connect them; whereas in Greek, agreement of gender, case and number allows an adjective separated by the entirety of the se ntence to be interpreted as modifying its particular noun. Sappho makes frequent use of enjambment, the continuation of a phrase from one line to the next. This increases th e pace of the poem by discouraging the reader from pausing at the end of the line. In English, where phrases must be more clearly 29 Campbell, Greek Lyric Poetry 262-265
13 delineated in order prevent confusion, this is m ore di fficult to achieve, though by no means impossible. Sapphos poems present a further difficulty in their fragmentary nature. When half or more of a poem is missing, its meaning becomes subject to debate. For example, in Campbell 29, robe(s)the necklaces(Gorgo?)Gyrinno30 could have any number of meanings. Is Gorgo wearing robe s and necklaces? Are they both wearing robes and necklaces? Are they giving robe s and/or necklaces to a goddess? Are they admiring the clothes and jewelr y of a statue of a goddess? Is Gorgo doing these things, while Gyrinno does something else entirely? Perhaps Gorgo is purchasing robes and jewelry, which she intends to give to Gy rinno. Or maybe she envies Gyrinno her robes and wants to steal her jewelry, because Go rgo herself cannot boast anything as fine. Gorgo may not even be part of the poem; he r name is conjecture based on what can be seen of the fragmentary parchment. While poems like this are interesting to sc holars, they provide only frustration for the lay reader. Any translator attempting to f ill in the gaps might as well invent his own poem from whole cloth. However, where th ere are only a few words missing, perhaps up to a line or two, an educated guess as to their basic meaning, even if no specific combination of Greek words can be suggest ed, should help the general public grasp Sapphos message better than rigorous adhe rence to the fallacies of the text. Perhaps the best way to translate Sapphos poems would be to take each one as an individual, and consider its characteristics both in terms of its own meaning and its relationship to other poems. Sappho did not wr ite all her poems in a single day, sticking to a rigid structure; she wr ote each separately, in whiche ver meter she thought best. A 30 Tr. David Campbell, Greek Lyric.
14 translator ought to do the sam e, although pe rhaps without as much freedom as Sappho originally had. Meter can link poe ms to one another, so poems that have the same meter in Greek ought also to have the same me ter as each other in English, although not necessarily the same meter as they had in the Greek. That is, all poems written in, for example, the Sapphic meter, might be translated into a particular iambic meter in English, so they retain their similarities to one another. English meter is very different from the Greek meter of Sapphos poetry. Most importantly, because English has a stress accent, it uses a stress-based meter, rather than the syllable-based meter of Greek. English lyri c tends to be in iambs, the natural cadence of the English language. It can also be in an apests, such as The Star-Spangled Banner. But it tends to stick to the same rhythm th roughout. However, it also has more fluidity than Sapphos lyric, with the option of adding a few extra unstressed syllables and singing them between beats, or taking away syllables and lengthening what ought to be a single syllable to take up the extra space (such as the beginning oh in the National Anthem, which takes up two beats: O-oh say can you see). Also unlike Greek meter, English lyric typically rhymes. The non-rhym ing nature of Greek poetry on the surface makes it easier to translate, since words that rhyme in one language rarely do in another, so a poem that has no rhyme avoids the difficulty of finding alternative rhymes. However, when one considers how Sappho might have written her poems if English were her native language, one must conclude that she would likel y have made use of rhyme, since that is part of the English tradition. The first four poems below were originally in the Sapphic meter. Poem 31 was adapted by Catullus, using the same meter. For this reason, it would make sense to
15 translate it into the sam e meter in English. However, as mentioned above, English is a stress-based language, where metric feet cons ist of stressed and unstressed syllables, as opposed to long and short ones. This means that even if the same meter is used, the result will not be identical. Moreover, the Sapphic mete r was used for more than just this one poem in Latin poetry, so the meter would ha ve been known to the readers from other sources. For three of these poems, I have chosen an iambic meter, three lines of iambic hexameter followed by one line of iambic trimeter in order to imitate the structure of the Greek. The three hexameter lines in each stan za rhyme, and the trimeter lines all rhyme with each other, in order to hold the whole poem together. This seemed more akin to the Greek than a simple abab or aabb rhyme scheme, since English rhyme is in a way taking the place of the Greek metrical complexity which has been lost in the translation to simple iambs. Where possible, I have tried to maintain word order, or at the very least keep words on the same line in which they appe ared in the Greek, but in some cases this is impossible. Not only does English word order preclude an exact, word-for-word translation of the Greek, but the constraints of meter and rhyme necessitate some shuffling of the words. I have allowed myself the occasional use of contractions because Sappho wrote in the local dialect as opposed to the literary dialect of the time. Hopefully the result is something which roughly a pproximates Sapphos original poetry. The first poem is about Sapphos appeal to A phrodite for her help in a love affair with a young woman. It was preserve d in Dionysus of Halicarnassuss On Literary Composition as an example of Sapphic meter. It is the only complete Sappho poem
16 available, although Ca mpbell 31 may be complete if one ignores the confusing last line (not included), and Campbell 58 has recently been reconstructed into a full poem. Campbell 1 : poikilovqron= ajqanavt= =Afrovdita, pai' Divo" dolovploke, livssomaiv se, mhv m= a!saisi mhd= ojnivaisi davmna, povtnia, qu'mon, ajllaV, tuivd= e[lq=, ai[ pota kajtevrwta taV" e[ma" au[da" ajivoisa phvloi e[klue", pavtro" deV dovmon livpoisa cruvsion h^lqe" a[rm= ujpasdeuvxaisa: kavloi dev s= a^gon w[kee" strou'qoi periV ga'" melaivna" puvkna divnnente" ptevr= ajp= wjravnoi[qero" diaV mevssw, ai^ya d= ejxivkonto: suV d=, w^ mavkaira, meidiaisais= ajqanavtw/ proswvpw/ h[re= o[tti dhu^te peponqa kw[tti dhu^te kavlhmmi, kw[tti moi mavlista qevlw gevnesqai mainovla quvmw/: tivna dhu^te peivqw a[y s= a[ghn ej" GaVn filovtata; tiv" s=, w^ Yavpf=, ajdikhei; kaiV gaVr aij feuvgei, tacevw" diwvxei aij deV dw'ra mhV devket=, ajllaV dwvsei: aij deV mhV fivlei, tacevw" filhvsei kwujk eqevloisa. e[lqe moi kaiV nu'n, calevpan deV lu'son
17 ejk merivmnan, o[ssa dev moi t evlessai qu'mo" ijmevrrei, tevleson: suV d= au[ta suvmmaco" e[sso. O Deathless Aphrodite on your inlaid throne, Wile-weaving daughter of great Zeuss home, My lady, not with loathings make my soul to groan, Nor sorrows, I entreat, But hither come, if on any other day Having heard my voice sing sw eet to you from far away, And leaving your fathers golden house without delay You have come to me, The chariot having yoked; and the lovely sparrows led You oer the earth so dark, their wings aloft and spread, And whirring like a storm, from heaven fast they fled Through mid-air, wild and free, And quickly they arrived; and you, o full of grace, With smiles wreathed upon your glorious deathless face, Asked what now I had suffered, and why now to this place I was calling thee, And what I wished to happen most when this I prayed Inside my frenzied soul; Whom now do I persuade To lead into her love ? Who, Sappho, dearest maid, Dares do wrong to thee? For if now she flees, soon she will pursue; If she refuses gifts, yet gifts shell give to you; If now she loves thee not, soon she will love thee true,
18 Unwilling th ough she be. Come to me even now, o goddess make me whole And free from grievous cares; that very thing my soul Desires, make to be; and then please take this role: My dearest comrade be. In this poem, preserved on a papyrus f ound during an excavation at Oxyrhynchus, Sappho discusses the nature of beauty. The ope ning stanza about what is most beautiful leads into two verses about Helen of Troy, th en a stanza that is ex tremely fragmentary, which I have reconstructed as well as I could, guessing at the sorts of things Sappho might have said. She ends the poem with a description of how much she misses the absent Anactoria and wishes she were present. Campbell 16 : oij meVn ijpphvwn strovton oij deV pevsdwn oij deV navwn fai's= ejpiV ga'n mevlainan e[mmenai kavlliston, e[gw deV kh'n= o[ttw ti" e[ratai: pavgcu d= eu[mare" suvneton povhsai pavnti tou't=, aj gaVr povlu perskevqoisa kavllo" ajnqrwvpwn =Elevna toVn a[ndra toVn panavriston kallivpois= e[ba =" Troi?an plevoisa kwujdeV pai'do" oujdeV fivlwn tokhvwn pavmpan ejmnavsqh, ajllaV paravgag= au[tan ...san ...ampton gaVr...
19 ...kouvfw" t...ohs...n ...me nu'n =Anaktoriva" ojnevmnais= ouj pareoivsa": ta'" ke bolloivman e[ratovn te ba'ma kajmavrucma lavmpron i[dhn proswvpw h] taV Luvdwn a[rmata kajn o[ploisi pesdomavcenta". Some say a host of cavalry, some say a host Of infantry, some say the ships at sea are most By far the loveliest thing; but I myself would boast Its the one you hold most dear. For Helen, lovely woman, surpassing all mankind In beauty, left her home and noble man behind To sail across the seaI think that you will find The tale to be quite clear From Greece her home she lef t; to Troy she went away, And never thought to kin or daughter who had stayed She gave, for Aphrodite had led her astray, Far from her home so dear. And now to Anactoria my thoughts have turned again Reminded by the story of Helen and her pain. Her step so light and youthful face I yearn so for to gain, Gone now almost a year. Her lovely step would be by far more dear to me, And the bright sparkle of her radiant face to see, Than the bold Lydian chariots across the sea,
20 And foot-fighters with spears. Poe m 31 was quoted by Longinus in On sublimity Longinus provides four stanzas, plus the first line of what is probabl y a fifth stanza. I have provided only the first four stanzas, because they make a complete poem in themselves. The Roman poet Catullus translated this poem into Latin several centuries after it was written. Campbell 31 : faivnetaiv moi kh'no" i[so" qevoisin e[mmen= w[nhr, o[tti" ejnavntiov" toi ijsdavnei kaiV plavsion a^du fwneivsa" ujpakouvei kaiV gelaivsa" ijmevroen, tov m= h^ maVn kardivan ejn sthvqesin ejptovaisen: wj" gaVr e[" s= i[dw brovce=, w[" me fwvnais= oujd= e]n e[t= ei[kei, ajllaV kaVm meVn glw'ssav m= e[age, levpton d= au[tika crw'/ pu'r ujpadedrovmhken, ojppavtessi d= oujd= e]n o[rhmm=, ejpirrovmbeisi d= a[kouai, kaVd dev m= i[drw" kakcevetai, trovmo" deV pai'san a[grei, clwrotevra deV poiva" e[mmi, teqnavkhn d= ojlivgw =pideuvh" faivnom= e[m= au[ta/. He seems to me, that on e, to be the equal to The gods, the man who sits opposite, facing you, So near to you, and knows that which I wish I knew, And you he sees and hears.
21 And he desires, as do I, your laugh so sweet, Which causes in m y chest my heart so hard to beat, For when for just a moment, our eyes should chance to meet, My voice abandons me, For my tongue is broken, limpand gentle fire Courses in my flesh, burning with desire; My eyes are blind, my sight is black, and higher and higher The sound hums in my ears. The sweat pours down my limbs, which tremble by and by, And greener than the grass, so stark with fear am I, And lacking but a little to cause for me to die I would seem to be. Campbell 34 : For this fourth poem, because there is onl y one stanza, and thus no possibility of rhyming the last line of the stanza with the last lines of other st anzas, I have left the translation as literal as possible. This cap tures some of the simple beauty of Sapphos work. The wording is evocative but not overs tated, the vocabulary chosen from everyday speech. This poem is quoted by Eu stathius in a discussion about Iliad 8. 555, where Homer used the phrase around the shining m oon. The poem is probably about a girl whose beauty outshines that of her comp anions as the stars outshine the moon.31 a[stere" meVn ajmfiV kavlan selavnnan a]y ajpukruvptoisi favennon ei^do" o[ppota plhvqoisa mavlista lavmph 31 Campbell, Greek Lyric 83.
22 ga'n The stars on both sides of the pretty moon Would hide back their radiant form When she swelled most bright Over the earth. Campbell 55 : Poem 55 is almost malicious, a declarati on that the intended recipient is not worthy of remembrance. Stobaeus included it in his Anthology with the claim that it was addressed to an uneducated woman. Plutarch cl aims the lines were meant for a wealthy woman.32 Its meter appears in Campbell 54 and 5 5, both of which are extremely short. Because it is such a little-used meter, at leas t in the fragments that we have available, I decided to try to translate it with the same meter in English, using an aabb rhyme scheme because I feel that couplets more closely reflect the fact that all lines use the same meter. While I have managed to retain most of the basic meaning, and even many of the exact words and a good bit of the phrasing, the cons traints of rhyme and an unfamiliar rhythm have turned the poem into something that doe s not seem quite lyrical in English. Also, I failed to maintain the enjambment of the orig inal. Still, it is more poetic than a direct translation. katqavnoisa deV keivsh/ oujdev pota mnamosuvna sevqen e[sset= oujdeV povqa eij" u[steron: ouj gaVr pedevch/" brovdwn twVn ejk Pieriva", ajll= ajqavnh" kajn =Aivda dovmw/ foitavsh/" ped= ajmauvrwn nekuvwn ejkpepotamevna. 32 Campbell, Greek Lyric 99.
23 Dying, there you will lie; never will they rem ember you again. Crying, no one will mourn; you have no share in the roses that bloom for friends. Falling, no one will see, down you w ill go into the house of death. Rising, among the dead, faint and un seen, youll fly without a breath. Campbell 58 : Recently the text of a new Sappho poem wa s discovered, in a papyrus from Koln that had been used to wrap a mummy. The New Sappho was matched to Campbell 58, whichuntil the findhad been fragmentary, with only a few words with large gaps between, preserved on an Oxyrhynchus papyr us. The New Sappho is about Sapphos experience with old age, a lament for her lost youth. I have left it as close to the original as possible. To an English reader, the word-o rder may cause some di fficulty, as it is the Greek subject-object-verb order rather than the English subject-verb-object order, but much of the effect of poetry comes from the ordering of the words, and even in English poetry word order can be rather fluid. [Umme" medaV Moivsan ijokovlpwn kavla dw'ra, pai'de", spoudavsdete kaiv tavn filavoidon liguvran celuvnnan: e[moi d= a[palon privn pot= e[onta crova gh'ra" h[dh ejpevllabe, leu'kai d= ejgevnonto trivce" ejk melaivnan: bavru" dev m= oj qu'mo" pepovhtai, govna d= ouj fevroisi, taV dhv pota laivyhr= e[on o[rchsq= i[sa nebrivoisi. taV meVn stenacivsdw qamevws: ajllaV tiv ken poeivhn; ajghvraon a[nqrwpon e[ont= ouj duvnaton gevnesqai. kaiV gavr pota Tivqwnon e[fanto brodovpacyn Au[wn e[rwi f...aqeisan bavmen= eij" e[scata ga'" fevroisan, e[onta kavlon kaiV nevon, ajlla= au^ton u[mw" e[marye crovnwi povlion gh'ra", e[cont= ajqanavtan a[koitin.
24 You all for the fragrant-blossom ed beau tiful gifts of the Muses, children, Make haste and the fond-of-s inging sweet tortoise-shell. But my body, being formerly soft, old age Seized, white became my hairs from black; Heavy my heart has been made my knees do not bear me, Which once were swift to dance like fawns. I bemoan them often; but what does it accomplish? That men become undying is impossible. For they say once rosy-armed Dawn Tithonus For love carried on her golden bowl to the end of the earth Him being beautiful and young, but all the same it caught him In time, grey old age, although his wife was immortal. Campbell 111 : Campbell 111 is one of Sapphos wedding hymns. Hephaestion uses it as an example of mesymnion, central refrain, in his work On Poems It consists of alternating lines pherecratean and reizianum with dactylic expansion, interrupted by the exclamations of Hymenaeus! Because the se quence of long-short-short-long appears in both, I have chosen this as the basis for th e English meter Ive used, repeated twice on each line. Rather than alternating lines of different meter, Ive created an abab rhyme scheme to match the abab me ter scheme of the Greek. For metrical purposes Ive change the Greek Ares to the Roman Mars. Although Ive used the Greek deities in the other poems, as this is an English translation, sw itching between the Greek and Latin names for the gods is similar to a Greek poet switchi ng between different cult-names for a god popular in different pa rts of the country.
25 The poem is one of Sapphos epithalamia, or wedding poems. It invokes Hymenaeus, the god of the marriage bed. Bing and Cohen suggest th at the beginning of the poem refers to the bridegrooms aroused state.33 The penultimate line compares him to Ares, who was famous for his adulterous l ove affair with Aphrodite, and the last line could easily have a sugg estive meaning as well. i[yoi dhV toV mevlaqron, ujmhvnaon, ajevrrete, tevktone" a[ndre": ujmhvnaon. gavmbro" ejsevcetai i^so" [Areui, a[ndro" megavlw povlu mevsdwn. Up goes the roof! Up to the sky! Hymenaeus! All skillful men, heave up again! Hymenaeus! The bridegroom has come, towering high, Equal to Mars, largest of men. 33 Bing and Cohen, Games of Venus 79.
26 Chapter 2 Masculine S appho: Sapphos Place in the Lyric Genre As a woman writing in a time when men dominated the literary landscapewhen daughters were as a rule less educated than sons,34 and women were relegated to the role of wife and mistress of the houseSa ppho was unique, but she was part of a larger tradition of poets, with whom she interacted both directly and indi rectly. According to Porphyrio, she was referred to as Masculin e Sappho, either because she is famous for her poetry, in which men more often excel, or because she is maligned as having been a tribad.35 She was not, however, simply one mo re poet among many, indistinguishable from her male counterparts. Her poetry does not slavishly follow the masculine norms, but rather adapts them for her own use. This is a large part of what allows her to be successful. A woman imitating men would have been nothing more than an imitator, unable to come up with original work and thus unable to compete. A woman writing purely feminist works would almost certainly have been rejected by the male-dominated society of Greece. But a woman writing about situations to which men can relate, while still remaining true to her own style, and retaining her own unique insightsshe was a success. In this chapter, I will argue that Sa ppho was able to appeal to mens ideals while still being true to herself as a woman. It would be a mistake to look at Sappho s work outside the scope of the lyric genre. She is included in the list of nine lyric poets alongside eight men. However, she is not afraid to write about things that do not appear in the poe try of her contemporaries, nor 34 Hallett, Sappho and Her Social Context. 35 Porphyrio on Horace Epistles in Campbell, Greek Lyric 19. Tribad was an ancient term for lesbian.
27 does she cover all the topics written about by other poets. Sappho [writes] about her love for her fem ale friends and the pleasures of singing and being together because these activities, not war or games or government, were the experiences that her society and times permitted to women.36 She wrote about love, and beauty, and marriage, rather than politics, like her contemporary Alcaeus. Women at the time were not allowe participate in politics, and thus Sap pho could not write about the subject. d to This does not mean that her poetry had nothing in common with her male counterparts, though. In fact, cer tain features of Sapphos poetr y that seem unusual to the modern reader can be explaine d by her participation in the larger genre of lyric. The themes of Sapphos poems include the love of women for women, Sapphos relationships with her female friends a nd rivals, and wedding poetry, which was a female concern. However, her poetry also shares elements in common with the male writers of the time. Several of her poems could just as easily be written by a man, and in fact, one of her poemsCampbell 31was later ad apted by the Roman poet Catullus for his own use. In a relationship, the male wa s supposed to be the pursuer.37 Similarly, Sapphos love poetry is about the pursuit, placing he r in the dominant, masculine role. A male reader of her poem could relate to this pos ition, and thus appreciat e the poem. Yet even this role is fluid in Sappho s poetry. Take, for example, Cam pbell 1 (a literal translation is provided here to aid understanding): O Deathless Aphrodite of the inlaid throne, Wile-weaving child of Zeus, I entreat you, Neither with loathings nor with sorrows subdue, 36 Lefkowitz, Critical Stereotypes. 37 Dover, Greek Homosexuality 101.
28 O lady, m y soul, But hither come, if ever even at another time My voice having heard from afar, You hearkened, and leaving your fathers golden home You came, The chariot having yoked; and they led you, the beautiful Swift sparrows, above the dark earth, Wings rapidly whirring, from heaven Through mid-air, And quickly they arrived; and you, O blessed one, With smiles upon your deathless face, Asked what this time I had suffered, and why This time I was calling, And what I most wished to happen to me In my frenzied soul; Whom this time do I persuade To lead you back into her love? Who, O Sappho, wrongs you? For if she flees, soon she will pursue; If she refuses gifts, yet will she give; If she loves not, soon she will love, Even unwilling. Come to me even now, free me from grievous Cares, what my soul desires To happen, make happen; and you yourself My comrade be.
29 This poem has many elements distinct to Sappho. First, it calls upon Aphrodite, goddess of love and beauty. While she is a na tural choice to whom to address a love poem, she is not the only choice; there is also Eros, at this time typically depicted as her son, and Nyx, primordial goddess of the night, the time when most seductions occur. Sappho calls upon Aphrodite in 14 of her poems,38 whereas she only calls upon Eros in 5 poems.39 Campbell 47 and 54 are preserved specif ically because they describe Eros, while there are no corresponding deliberate preservations of Sapphos appeals to Aphrodite. Campbell 159 is described as Aphr odites response to Sappho, and therefore might be more accurately included in the first list. Even allowing these as valid inclusions in the list, there are still nearly three times as many poe ms that invoke Aphrodite as those that invoke Eros. Although the sample availa ble to us of Sapphos poems is not exactly random, due to the deliberate inclusion of desc riptions of Eros, it more heavily favors the poems that invoke Eros. Even so, the number of poems to Aphrodite is significantly more. This can be taken as tentatively re presentative of Sappho s work as a whole. Male lyric poets would typically appeal to or blame Eros in their poetry. Anacreon is an example of one such poet. He was a native of Teos, born around 575 B.C, which puts him about half a century after Sappho.40 He mentions Eros in fragments PMG 358, 396, 398, and 413 (Once more Eros of the golden hair/ hits me with his purple ball,/ calls me out to play with the girl; Bring water, boy, bring us blossoming/ garlands, bring them, so I can box with Eros; The dice that Eros plays with/ are raving 38 Campbell 1, 2, 5, 15, 22, 33, 73, 86, 96, 102, 112, 133, 134, and 140. 39 Campbell 44A, 47, 54, 130, and 159. 40 Oxford Classical Dictionary 79-80.
30 m adness and battle din; Once more, like a bl acksmith, Eros battered me with his huge/ axe, and doused me in an icy torrent).41 Sappho, in contrast to her male counterparts, calls almost exclusively on Aphroditea proposition which makes sense, c onsidering that, though she is writing in a male literary tradition, she is, in fact, a wo man, and makes no attempt to disguise this fact. Aphrodite, as a woman herself, is more likely to be sympathetic to the plight of a fellow woman. In addition, whereas the male poets are concerned with the consummation of desire, which falls under the domain of Eros, Sappho never mentions actual consummation, and is more concerned with beauty, the domain of Aphrodite. One example of this is, I say [the most b eautiful thing] is whatever one loves.42 Another example is Campbell 16, which describes a gi rl who outshines all her companions in beauty, a literal translation of which would be, The stars on both sides of the pretty moon/ Would hide back their radiant form/ When she swelled most bright/ Over the earth.43 Another unique aspect of the poem is Sapphos role as both pursuer and pursued. As mentioned before, because sh e acts as pursuer, she has pla ced herself in the dominant, masculine role, which would have allowed the men of the time to relate to her poetry; however, by the end of the poem, this has changed, and Sappho has assumed the role of the pursued: For if she flees, soon she will pursue;/ If she refuses gifts, yet will she give;/ If she loves not, soon she will love,/ Even unwilling. It is that last word, unwilling, that is most important. Although Sappho has here assumed the feminine, subordinate role of the one being pursued, she has not truly 41 Tr. Peter Bing and Rip Cohen, Games of Venus 89-91. 42 Fr. 16. 43 Fr. 34.
31 relinquished her dominance. Though the object of her desire will now be pursuing, she will not be in control. Sappho, through her pray ers to Aphrodite, will still have the power, which keeps Sappho at least partly in the masculine role. Yet the verse is st ill interesting, because it does have that ambiguous sense, wherein Sappho has both the dominant and the submissive roles in the relationship, a thing not seen in contemporaneous mascu line poetry. In a Greek masculine homoerotic relationship, the dominant, older partner was known as the erastes or lover and the passive partner called eromenos or beloved The passive partner was often referred to by the term pais, meaning boy because he was by default the younger member of the pair, and often a youth in hi s pubescent teen years.44 The male lyric poets always wrote from the point of view of the erastes, the dominant partner. Un like what Sappho does in her poem, a Greek erastes could never switch roles with his eromenos turning from pursuer to pursued. Nor did the lyric poets make the switch from poem to poem; there is no convincing example of lyric poetry from the point of view of the eromenos Claiming that this is a rare example of l ove poetry from the point of view of the eromenos Peter Bing and Rip Cohen translate Anacr eons Elegy 2 (West) as I dont kiss the guy who guzzles wine beside the brimming bowl and talks battles and tearful war,/ but the one who mingles dazzling gifts of the Muses and Aphrodite singing of lusty play.45 However, the opening of ou phileo, hos which literally means I do not love him who typically has more neutral connotations than how it is rendered above, more along the lines of I do not like the man who simply expressing preference of friends. Had 44 Dover, Greek Homosexuality 16. 45 Bing and Cohen, Games of Venus 87.
32 Anacreon intended it to be taken as an eromenos poem he more likely would have used the phrasing ouk erao, hos which means I do not desire him who Male lyric poets did not wr ite about being pursued. They wrote from the point of view of the erastes, the pursuer, the one who held the dominant role. A man did not want to read or write about being an eromenos ; taking that role was not socially acceptable for an adult man in ancient Greece. Unique am ong poets of the time, Sappho could take the role of the pursued without compromising her position, because she was a woman, whose natural role was that of pursued. It was not di sgraceful for her to be the submissive party in a relationship, so she could wr ite about it without consequence. Another important poem is Campbell 31. As mentioned earlier, this poem was translated into Latin by the Roman poet Catullus, who was able to adapt it to a male narrator. Because of this, it is perhaps Sapphos most famous poem, studied by students of both Greek and Latin. A tr anslation is provided here: He seems to me, that one, equal to the gods To be, the man who opposite you Sits and near sweetly to you speaking Listens And your laughter desires, which my Heart in my chest agitates; For when at you I look briefly, then speaking Is no longer possible But my tongue is broken, delicate Fire forthwith courses in my flesh, With my eyes nothing do I see, humming
33 Are m y ears, Down the sweat pours, and a trembling Seizes me all over, greener than grass I am, and lacking little to die It seems I am. This poem is interesting because, as men tioned above, the gender of the speaker is ambiguous. Unlike in Campell 1, in this poe m Sappho leaves no clues as to her own identity. She is, presumably, still the narrator-persona of Sappho as named by Aphrodite, and therefore female, but as Catullus proved, it is easy even for a male reader to project his own gender on the speaker. In this poem, Sappho compares herself to the man sitting across from his beloved, placing he rself once more in the masculine role. Even knowing that the speaker is a woma n, this would have allowed her male contemporaries to sympathize with the poems narrator. This is a very introspective poem. The onl y description we get of the beloved is that her laughter is sweet. Th e beloved is only important in the effect she has upon those around her: the lack of response by her male companion, who seems to Sappho like a god and is the subject of the first stanza, and Sapphos own reaction, which takes the remaining three stanzas. The typical male poe m is more active. The masculine narrator does not sit around thinking about what looki ng at the beloved is doing to him, but actually does something about it, either thr ough prayer or attempts at seduction. An example of the former is Anacreon fragment 327:46 O lord, with whom Eros the subduer 46 Tr. Peter Bing and Rip Cohen, Games of Venus 89.
34 And the dark-eyed nymphs And glistening Aphrodite Join in play, you who roam The high crests of the mountains, I kneel and beg you, come to me Kindly, hear my prayer, And may it please you: Give wise counsel To Kleoboulos, get him, Dionysus, to accept my love. An example of the latter is Anacreon fragment PMG 417:47 Thracian filly, why do you eye me with mistrust And stubbornly run away, and think that Im unskilled? Rest assured, I could fit you deftly with a bridle And, holding the reins, could steer you past the end posts of our course. Now as it is, you graze the fields and frisk in childish play Since you lack a rider with a pr acticed hand at horsemanship. The narrator in these poems is more active than the narrator in the Sappho. Rather than despairing because his love does not l ove him, in the first poem Anacreon prays to Dionysus to make the boy welcome his a dvances. In the analogous Sappho poem, Campbell 1, Sappho never actually asks Aphrodite to make the girl love her. The reader is left to assume that she has done so in the past, but the way th e poem is worded, after initially calling the goddess to her, Sappho is the passive recept or of the goddesss benevolence. In the second poem, Anacreon dire ctly addresses the beloved, who is also more active than the beloved in Sapphos poem. Rather than simply sitting across from 47 Tr. Peter Bing and Rip Cohen, Games of Venus 92.
35 her lover and inspiring desire, Anacreons be loved grazes the fields and frisks in childish play. In Cam pbell 31, as in Campbell 1, Sappho has placed herself in a less actively dominant role. She is still the pursuer, still the erastes the lover, the one doing the desiring, yet she is more introspective, more feminine about it. Although she is comparing herself to the male in the rela tionship, she compares unfavorably: the man seems to her to be a god, because he is strong enough to suppress his reaction in the presence of the beloved, while Sappho herself is weak. The imagery is quite potent. It encompasses three of the five senses: Sappho feels fire coursing in her flesh; she sees nothing with her eyes; and her ears are humming. The onl y two missing are taste and smell. In an ideal world, after love comes marriage, and Sappho also wrote several poems on the latter subject, mostly epithalam ia meant to be performed at wedding. These poems include Campbell 111-117 and 141. Campbell 141 also fits into the lyric category of drinking songs. There a bowl of ambrosia had been mixed, and Hermes took the jug and poured wine for the gods. They all held dr inking-cups, and they offered libations and prayed for all manner of ble ssings on the brideg room. While Sappho did not write very many drinking songs, her contemporary Alcaeus wr ote quite a few. He mentions wine or drinking in several of his poems, including Campbell 346, which describes how properly to mix the wine: Let us drink! Why do we wa it for the lamps? There is only an inch of day left. Friend, take down the large decorated cups. The son of Semele and Zeus gave men wine to make them forget their sorrows. Mix one part of water to two of wine, pour
36 it in b rimful, and let one cup jostle another.48 Yet Sappho has no poems solely about drinking. The drinking in Campbell 141 is in th e context of a toast to the bridegroom. Alcaeuss poem, quoted in Athenaeuss Scholars at Dinner may have been written for a symposium, an all-male drinking party w ith which Sappho would have no familiarity, because as a woman she could not attend. Sh e wrote about drinking in a context with which she was familiar. At the end of life, after love and marriag e, must come old age and death. Recently another complete poem of Sapphos was discovered, which was matched to the previously fragmentary Campbell 58. This poem diverges somewhat from Sapphos usual poetry, being about th e ravages of age: You all for the fragrant-blossomed beau tiful gifts of the Muses, children, Make haste and the fond-of-s inging sweet tortoise-shell. But my body, being formerly soft, old age Seized, white became my hairs from black Heavy my heart has been made my knees do not bear me, Which once were swift to dance like fawns I bemoan them often; but what does it accomplish? That men become undying is impossible. For they say once rosy-armed Dawn Tithonus For love carried on her golden bowl to the end of the earth, Him being beautiful and young, but all the same it caught him In time, grey old age, although his wife was immortal. This poem contrasts with the typical th emes of lyric poetry, especially Sapphos poetry, which have to do with the acti ons of youthlove, marriage, drinking, and 48 Tr. David Campbell, Greek Lyric, 379-381.
37 politics.49 In a way, though, it is about youth, as an old woman laments the loss of the things she enjoyed as a girl. It has a predecessor in the works of the elegiac poet Mimnermos, who lived in the latter half of the 7th century B.C. and hailed either from Smyrna or Colophon. In antiquity he was best known for his love poetry, one of the main themes of the lyric poets. He, like Sappho, wrote about old age: 1 (West): What is life, what is j oy, without golden Aphrodite? May I die when these things no longer move me, A secret love, soot hing gifts, the bed, Those tempting flowers of youth there to be plucked By men and women. But when agonizing age sets in, Making repulsive even a handsome man, Then constant anxious cares afflict his mind, He takes no joy in seeing the shafts of the sun, But is loathsome to the boys, despised by women. What a pain the gods made age. 5 (West): Suddenly an intense sweat streams down my skin, And I tremble, seeing the blossom of youth, Its beauty and joy. If only it lasted longer, But it is shortlived like a dream, Youth which I adore. Heavy, formless Age suddenly hangs overhead, Loathsome and despised, making a man unrecognizable, And, poured about his eyes and brain, it mangles them.50 49 David Campbell, The Golden Lyre 50 Bing and Cohen, Games of Venus 69-70.
38 Both poets m ention that all mortals must grow old and die. While Mimnermos concentrates on how age affects his love lif e, Sappho focuses on how age affects her, personally, similarly to the way she describes he r reaction to being in the presence of her beloved in Campbell 31. Mimnermos, once handsome, claims he has been made repulsive; Sappho says her black hairs are now white, but passes no judgment upon this change. She does not say the white is unattr active, nor that the black was beautiful, although the reader may well read this in to the poem. Sapphos attractiveness is unimportant; what is important is the f act that age has changed her. Whereas Minmnermos says he is loathsome to th e boys, despised by women, Sappho complains that she can no longer dance because her knees have become weak. She cares more about the effect age has on her than the effect it has on the way people perceive her. Her focus is internal, rather than external. Although the poems deal with the same themes, they deal with them in different ways. Sappho is more in terested in the world s effect on her, as opposed to her effect on the world. She is, in this sense, passive, rather than active; submissive, rather than dominant. Thus Sappho was able to be a part of the masculine tradition while not being confined by the walls of the genre. She wr ote about themes to which the men could relate, but in a uniquely female fashion. She was not simply one more male voice in a sea of men, but she also wasnt truly a memb er of the weaker sex. She was both, and neither. It was this uncertainty of ge nder that allowed her to be a success.
39 Chapter 3 The Sapphic Muse: Sapphos Influence on Catullus Catullus wa s a Roman poet writing in Latin in the first century B.C., near the end of the time of the Roman Republic. He was contemporary with Julius Caesar and Marcus Tullius Cicero. Born in 84 B.C., he probably died in 54 B.C., at age 30.51 He was part of a poetic movement called the neoterics. Derived from the Greek word for new this term referred to a group of poets who cultivated a studied elegance in vocabulary, word order, metre, and narrative form.52 His poems have survived in a single book, in an order which may or may not have been original to the author himself. His poetry ranges from simple to complex, from couplets to epic -like poems spanning hundr eds of lines, from poignant poetry to crude invective. In this chapter, I will argue that Catu llus was influenced by Sappho not only in his translation of Sappho 31 and his choice of ps eudonym for his girlfrie nd, but also in his own ambiguity of gender. Though he lived in a time that was, like hers, dominated by men, when women writers were virtually unhe ard of, her influence was still great enough, and her poems well enough read, that he could a llude to them with th e understanding that his readers would catch the re ference. His girlfriend, Lesbia to whom he addressed a number of his poems (there are approximately twenty-five,53 although the exact count is debatable, as not all mention Lesbia by name ), was probably named Clodia, sister of P. 51 Oxford Classical Dictionary 303. 52 Oxford Classical Dictionary 679. 53 Daniel Garrison, The Students Catullus xiii.
40 Clodius Pulcher, as identified by Apuleius.54 Clodius had three sisters, all named Clodia, and Lesbia could theoretically have been any one of them, but she is most commonly associated with Clodia Metelli, the wife of Q. Metellus Celer. Wiseman refers to the familiar story of the poets love for the wife of Metellus Celer,55 a tale which, while not beyond doubt, is at the least, as Wiseman poi nts out, well-known to those who study the poet. If this identification is correct, the ps eudonym Lesbia would hide the identity of the married Clodia from those who did not al ready know of their relationship, but would make clear to those who did know just who was meant. The name was significant in two ways: first, in relation to Sappho, and second, in relation to Clodia. In relation to Sappho, the name referred to Sapphos native isle of Lesbos and, thus, identified the woman so named with Sappho herself, the famous woman of Lesbos. It was the highest compliment, because it implied that the woman called Lesbia was worthy to be compared to the Muses themselves. Sappho had in antiquity been lauded as the Tenth Muse, and Catullus in his own poetry refers to the Sapphic Muse.56 In relation to Clodia, the name Lesbia was simply a veil over her true name. Metricall y, the two names occupy the same space, being composed of a long syllable followed by tw o short syllables (or, depending on which word came next in the poem, a long, a shor t, and another long), which would have allowed a reader to substitute one for the other with no difficulty. Besides the obvious use of the name Le sbia, Catullus drew inspiration from Sappho in other ways. There is a passing me ntion of the Sapphic Muse in poem 35. 54 This identification is supported by Poem 79, whic h begins, Lesbius est pulcer [sic], Lesbius is handsome, or Lesbius is Pulcher. The latter translatio n is strengthened in line 3, when Catullus uses the adjective pulcer (more commonly spelled pulcher ) as a noun. 55 Wiseman, Catullus & His World 1. 56 Poem 35.
41 This is, in true Catullian fashion, intri guingly am biguous. A first reading would suggest he means the muse who inspired Sappho, pres umably Euterpe, muse of lyric poetry, who should also be Catulluss muse, for a great portion of his work. But the Sapphic Muse could also be Sappho herself, the Tenth Mu se, from whom Catullus drew so much inspiration. One way he drew inspiration from Sappho wa s in meter. Two of his poems are in Sapphic strophe,57 poems 11 and 51, perhaps his last and first poems to Lesbia respectively.58 This meter was invented by Sappho herself and used in the only complete poem of hers to survive. Catullus us ed this meter both to begin his relations with Lesbia and to end it. His choice of this meter is a subtle reference to the earlier p hip oet. His choice of the poem with which to begin the relationship is less subtle. Catullus 51 is a translation into Latin of Sapphos poem 31, where she is watching a man watching her beloved. Provided here ar e both the Latin and the Greek, with corresponding translations. Ille mi par esse deo videtur, ille, si fas est, superare divos, qui sedens adversus identidem te spectat et audit dulce ridentem, misero quod omnis eripit sensus mihi : nam simul te, Lesbia, aspexi, nihil est super mi (vocis in ore) lingua sed torpet, tenuis sub artus 57 This is the same as the Sapphic meter in Greek. 58 Daniel Garrison, The Students Catullus 175.
42 flamma de manat, sonitu suopte tintinant aures geminae, teguntur lumina nocte. otium, Catulle, tibi molestum est : otio exultas nimiumque gestis : otium et reges prius et beatas perdidit urbes. That man seems to me to be the equal of a god, That one, if it is possible, to exceed the gods, Who sitting opposite you again and again Sees and hears you Sweetly laughing, which wretched me of all Senses deprives; for at the same time as at you, Lesbia, I glance, nothing remains for me Of speech in my mouth My tongue is limp, beneath my joints slender Flame flows, with their own sound My ears ring, my sight is covered With twin darkness. Leisure, Catullus, is grievous for you; At leisure you indulge and carry on too much. Leisure previously both kings and happy Cities has ruined. faivnetaiv moi kh'no" i[so" qevoisin e[mmen= w[nhr, o[tti" ejnavntiov" toi ijsdavnei kaiV plavsion a^du fwneiv-
43 sa" ujpakouvei kaiV gelaivsa" ijmevroen, tov m = h^ maVn kardivan ejn sthvqesin ejptovaisen: wj" gaVr e[" s= i[dw brovce=, w[" me fwvnais= oujd= e]n e[t= ei[kei, ajllaV kaVm meVn glw'ssav m= e[age, levpton d= au[tika crw'/ pu'r ujpadedrovmhken, ojppavtessi d= oujd= e]n o[rhmm=, ejpirrovmbeisi d= a[kouai, kaVd dev m= i[drw" kakcevetai, trovmo" deV pai'san a[grei, clwrotevra deV poiva" e[mmi, teqnavkhn d= ojlivgw =pideuvh" faivnom= e[m= au[ta/. He seems to me, that one, equal to the gods To be, the man who opposite you Sits and near sweetly to you speaking Listens And your laughter desires, which my Heart in my chest agitates; For when at you I look briefly, then speaking Is no longer possible But my tongue is broken, delicate Fire forthwith courses in my flesh, With my eyes nothing do I see, humming Are my ears, Down the sweat pours, and a trembling
44 Seizes m e all over, greener than grass I am, and lacking little to die It seems I am. Although Catullus does not provide a litera l translation, the similarities between his poem and Sappho 31 are striking. The first line is almost identical: That man to me is the equal of the gods, versus He seems to me that one, equal to the gods. In line 3 of Catullus, the man is sitting opposite you. In lines 2-3 of Sappho, he opposite you sits. In line 4 of Sappho, he merely listens, while in Catullus he sees and hears. Lines 5 of both mention her laughter. Catullus says, in lines 6-8, at the same time as at you, Lesbia, I glance, there is no power in me / of speech in my mouth, echoing Sapphos lines 7-8, for when I look at you briefly, then speaking/ is no longer possible. Catulluss tongue, in line 9, is limp, whereas Sapphos is broken, but the result is the same. Lines 9-10 mention flame coursing through the flesh. Catullus switches the order of blindness and deafness, and makes them more descriptive, yet stil l keeps the core of the idea. There are, of course, differences as well. The lines do not match up exactly, although they do come fairly close; Catullu s keeps his translation within a line of Sapphos text, line 2 of Catullus has no co rrespondence in Sappho. Nor does the phrase spanning lines 5-6, which wretched me of all/ senses deprives. This phrase has replaced a different phrase which spans lines 5-6 in the Sappho, which my / heart in my chest agitates. In line 7, Catullus calls Lesbia by name, whereas Sappho does not name the beloved in her poem. As noted earlier, word choice is slightly different; the man in Catulluss poem sees and hears the beloved, while in Sappho he only hears, and their tongues are described in s lightly different ways.
45 The slight differences in vocabulary are easy enough to explain. Catullus constrained him self to using the same meter which Sappho had employed, which limited his options when it came to translation. The La tin spectat et audit occupies the same metrical space as the Greek ; if the man in Catulluss poem had simply listened, the line would have lacked in syllabl es. Likewise, it is im possible to translate every word identically from a foreign language when keeping to a certain meter. What is remarkable is not that Catullus made the poem di fferent, but that he kept it so much the same. A limp tongue might not be the same th ing as a broken tongue, but it still has the same impact on the reader. The subtle changes which Catullus has wr ought are perhaps the most important. As OHiggins points out, Catulluss use of Lesbias name as opposed to Sapphos anonymous beloved and tentative it seems sets his version of the poem in a more concrete place and time. Also, while Catu lluss limp tongue may be linguistically similar to Sapphos broken one, even had he translated the word precisely, the effect would have been different, since Catullus is primarily a literary poet, while Sappho is primarily an oral poet. If Sapphos tongue is broken, she cannot compose; if Catulluss tongue is limp, he can still write.59 Most problematic is Catulluss last ve rse. Sappho completes the poem with a physical description akin to illn ess, and claims she is lackin g little to die. Catullus takes the last verse in an entirely different dire ction. He talks about otium leisure, and how it has destroyed empires. This has absolutely no correspondence to Sappho, unless it is in a missing fifth stanza, which may or may not have been a part of the original poem. Since 59 OHiggins, Sapphos Splintered Tongue.
46 no stanza is transm itted with the remainder of the poem, there is no way to prove or disprove this. It is, however, unlikely; up until this point, Catullus followed Sapphos poem faithfully. Only in this fourth stanza does his poem diverge drastically from the original. If it is a translation of the missing fi fth stanza, why is ther e no translation of the fourth stanza? Why not translate both, as he al ready translated the first three? Brent Vine argues that Sapphos fourth stan za is not missing from the Catu llus at all, but has been conflated with her third stanza in Catulluss translation.60 While this explains the absence of a translation of the fourth stanza, I find that the differe nces between the third stanzas of Catullus and Sappho are too minimal to merit such an explanation. If this poem is indeed Catulluss first poe m to Clodia Metelli, a proposition which makes sense given the distance between Catullus and Lesbia (i.e., he merely watches, and does not act, even insofar as to compose hi s own original poem, while she seems unaware of his presence), then it makes sense that Catullus would want to end it with some sort of moral, some sort of reason for writing the poem. Where one might expect a plea that the beloved return his love, Catullus, in true lyric tradition, makes even the moral selfreflective, telling himself he has too much le isure, and this is what makes him gaze upon another mans wife. The poem, in the end, is written for himself, not for Clodia. Taken alone, this poem does not requ ire a relationship between Catullus and Lesbia, just as Sapphos poem did not imply any actual cont act between herself and the beloved. The poems are about the poet, not about the bel oved, and the last stanza of Catulluss poem emphasizes that, although the firs t stanza, with his direct address of Lesbia, has placed it in a more definite frame than Sapphos poe m. At this stage, the relationship is 60 Brent Vine, On the Missing Fourth Stanza of Catullus 51.
47 nonexistant. Catullus do es not even have to show the poem to its addressee; because the conclusion is self-reflective, he can keep it to himself, or merely share it with his friends. Yet this is only one poem; the rest of hi s corpus, so far as can be determined, is entirely original. Although its certainly po ssible that some of his other poems are translations of Sappho whose or iginals have been lost, or of some other, unknown poet, the lack of evidence makes speculation pointle ss. A reader can point to each and every Lesbia poem as evidence of Sapphos influence. Yet this is redundant ; after the initial decision to give his girlfriend a name ba sed on Sapphos place of birth, whenever he refers to her it must be as Lebia, and Sappho might as well be forgotten. The next poem where one can draw an undeniable link to Sappho is poem 11, where he ends his relationshi p with Lesbia. This poem, like poem 51, is in the Sapphic strophe. The last verse seems a definite in dication that, despite his having accepted her back in the past, this is defin itely the end: Nor le t her expect as before my love,/ Which by her fault has fallen, just as on the meadow s/ End a flower, after a passing/ Plow touches it. It would certainly have been like Catullu s to end the relationship on the same note in which it began: with a poem written in the Sapphic strophe. Catullus was fond of the chiastic nature of organization; poems 62-68 are organized this way, with poem 64 standing alone, poem 63 contra sting with poems 65-66 metrica lly and thematically, poem 62 contrasting with poem 67, and poem 61 contrasting with poem 68.61 This chiastic construction is also seen quite often within poems, such as poem 36, which begins and ends with the same line (Annales Volusi, cacat a charta), or even within lines, especially in poem 64, such as the line auratam optantes Colchis avertere pellem, where auratam 61 Charles Martin, Catullus 173.
48 golden m odifies pellem fleece and avertere to avert is an epexegetical infinitive modifying optantes hoping .62 Following these examples, it would be well within character for Catullus to end his relationship with Lesbia in a structurally identical manner to the way he had begun it: with a poem written in the Sapphic strophe. Poetically, this brings closure to the relationship in a way that simply announcing its end would not, in the same way that a fairy tale that begins once upon a time must end and they lived happ ily ever after, or the words the end feel wrong and inconc lusive. Although Lesbia is not mentioned by name, the parallel structure, and similaritie s in language between this poem and other Lesbia poems, such as 58, point towa rd it being included in the list. The first three stanzas also point to this being the last poem written to Lesbia, the end of the affair. In these stanzas, Catullus br ings up all the places he might go in order to get over his broken heart.63 This contrasts with other instances in his tumultuous relationship with Lesbia, where he rails at her for being promiscuous, or says that he loves her but does not like her, or prays th at shell take him back. There is a certain finality to his contemplation of self-im posed exile that the other poems lack. This poem ends with an image of Catullu ss love for her dying like a flower cut down by a plow. This image is something of a reversal of roles. As in poem 51, he feminizes himself, but because he cannot do so by placing himself in a role previously occupied by a woman, he does so by analogy. In poetic parlance, the plow is very masculine; it penetrates the feminine earth a nd causes seeds to grow out of the soil. The flower, on the other hand, is feminine; it is pretty and delicate, like a woman ought to be, 62 Charles Martin, Catullus 35. 63 Bing and Cohen, Games of Venus 37.
49 and easily cut down by the m asculine plow. By this reasoning, Catullus ought to have been the plow and Lesbia the flower, but it is in fact the other way around. Catulluss delicate love has been cut down by the uncaring plow that is the masculine Lesbia. This feminization of the poet can also be seen in poems 2 and 3, about the sparrow. In Greek and Roman culture the spa rrow was considered to be an erotic bird, associated with Aphrodite and sometimes a st and-in for the male genitalia. Aphrodites chariot, described in Sap pho 1, is pulled by sparrows. Sparrow, delight to my girl, With whom to play, whom in her lap to hold, Whom, grasping for it, to give her fingertip And to incite sharp bites, she is wont, When my glittering desire Is pleased to make some esteemed jest And little solace for her pain, I believe, so heavy passion then rests: Would I could play with you as she does And lighten the sad cares of the mind! Mourn, O Venuses and Cupids, However many there are of more pleasing men: The sparrow of my girl is dead, Sparrow, delight to my girl, Whom she loved more than her eyes. For honeyed he was he knew Her as well as a girl her mother, Nor did he ever move himself from her lap, But hopping around, this way, that way,
50 Continually chirping to his m istress alone. Who now goes through a dark journey From which they deny anyone returns. But may it be badly for you, bad shadows Of Orcus who devour al l things beautiful! So pretty a sparrow youve taken from me. O bad dead! O poor little sparrow! Now your work, my girls Swollen eyes are red from crying. These poems are written in the lyric hend ecasyllable meter. At first glance, they seem very touching, making use of the same flowery language that Sappho employed: the sparrow is mellitus honeyed and is described actively, always jumping around and chirping. In the same way the sparrows in Ca mpbell 1 have wings rapidly whirring; the sparrow is an active bird. Catullus, like Sappho herself, calls upon both Venus (Aphrodite) and Cupid (Eros) in the beginni ng of poem 3, although since he is himself a male poet it might be more fitti ng for him to call upon Cupid alone. Yet, upon closer examination, the poem can almost be read as obscene. Up until line 4 of poem 2, the sparrow could be either a real bird or a stand-in for the poets phallus;64 then the second meaning is lost as th e sparrow nips the womans finger. After line 4, the possible double meaning continue s. In poem 3, the double entendre lasts until line 10, where it becomes difficult to imagine a phallus chirping. Then, again, after this single line, this single word, the possibility of a sexual meaning returns, and continues until the end of the poem. The sparrow is dead because the poet suffers from impotence, and it is this that caus es his girl to cry. 64 Adams, The Latin Sexual Vocabulary, 31-33.
51 W ith another poet, perhaps the vanishing possibility of double entendre could have been accidental. But Catullus was one of the neoterics, and his poems were carefully composed, each word thought and rethought until the poem became a highly polished whole. The fact that he chose to write about an erotic bird could not be coincidence; no more could the fact that, aside from one line in each poem, the sparrow need not refer to a bird at all. It is more likely that Catullus deliberately put in those two lines as a sort of plausible deniability. Those who wished coul d take the racy meaning where it came and ignore the rest; for those w ho would be offended by it, Catullus could say, Look, it couldnt mean that, see this word? The joke in the poems is the unfulfilled expectation, the surprise the reader gets when he discovers that it cant mean wh at he thought it might mean, and then, again, his thoughtfulness when he notices that all that keeps it from that meaning is a single word. If he did indeed mean the sparrow to be representative of his phallus, it calls to mind an image not entirely in keeping with the dominant male and submissive female. There is no penetration involved. Lesbia is the one actively playing with the more passive Catullus; he is not moving, although his sparrow is. The image is reminiscent of certain Greek vase paintings, where the erastes touches the genitals of the eromenos .65 This would place Lesbia in the position of erastes and Catullus in the position of eromenos a sexual reversal similar to that of Sappho 1, where she turns from pursuer to pursued. In the second poem, this feminization of the poet is even more remarkable. The sparrow has died. Taking the sparrow to be representative of the poets phallus, this 65 Dover, Greek Homosexuality B76, B271, B598, R520, et cetera.
52 indicates that Catullus has suffered from erectile dysfunction, a nd Lesbia is crying because they cannot have intercourse. Catullus has been, quite simply, unmanned. That is not to say that Catullus comple tely feminizes himself in his poems. He seems to delight in playing with gender, then denying those who called him on it. Like Sappho, he is able to take on both roles. In poem 16, he threatens to force both anal and oral sex upon a pair of his rivals, asser ting his sexual dominance over them, and thus asserting his superior masculinity. The fact that he is threatening to force sex upon men does not make Catullus homosexual in the sense that a modern American would understand it, since the Romans, like the Greeks, measured sexual preference by preferred role rather than preferred partner. Thus Sappho, the Poetess of Lesbos, was fa mous not only in the Greek world, but in the Roman as well. Her poetry survived for centuries to in spire the Roman poet Catullus in form and content, from his use of her island as a name for his beloved, to writing in the meter that bears her name, to his adaptation of one of her poems into Latin, to his own ambiguity of gender role in his poe try. The fact that a popular male poet could draw such inspiration from her hundreds of miles and hundreds of years from her place of birth demonstrates just how enduring and all-encompassing he r poetry was, and still is today.
53 Conclusion Sapphos poetry ranges f rom erotic appeals to Aphrodite to poignant descriptions of a beloved to wedding hymns to insults. Although it is impossible to determine for certain whether she was a lesbian in the mode rn sense, her poetry contains definite homoerotic themes. Poems such as Campbe ll 1 and Campbell 31 have a female beloved, and in Campbell 1, at least, the narrator is addressed as Sappho. The popularity of Sapphos poetry was enough to ensure that although all complete copies of her works were destroyed, her poetry has still surv ived to reach us in a sizeable number of fragments. A large number of these fragments, as well as the single complete poem, come from ancient citations of her work, but excavat ions in Egypt have uncovered other works. Most recently, the di scovery of the New Sappho has shown that there is still a pos sibility of finding more. While best enjoyed in the original Greek, her poems still have power when translated into English. Numer ous translations exist, which unfortunately tend to be in prose or blank verse, and lose some of th e essential quality of the Greek. The verse translations I have provided are meant to recap ture that lyric quality that would have been known in the ancient world so that it can also be enjoyed today. In Greek or English, Sapphos poetry dem onstrates her abilit y to switch between gender roles in her work. This allowed her to have a place among the male poets and led to the epithet masculine Sappho, although she was not completely masculine so much as not wholly feminine. She took on both dom inant and submissive roles in her poetry and was even able to switch between them in the space of a single poem. While we
54 cannot know from her poetry alone what her tr ue sexual preferences were, we can admire her ability to write in a fluid gender, sw itching from the passive female role to the dominant masculine role and back again. Sapphos poetic themes and meter place her squarely in the genre of lyric poetry. In ancient times she was included in the list of the nine great lyric poets, and alternatively known as the Tenth Muse. These two descriptio ns highlight her fluidity of gender: the other lyric poets were all men, but the mu ses were women. Sapphos place in the lyric genre was unique, but it still fit in with th e greater whole. Her themes of love and marriage echoed the themes of her contem poraries without copying them. She brought her own unique feminine insight into the masculine genre of lyric poetry. Her poems have been popular many times throughout history, and have influenced different people in different wa ys. The Roman poet Catullus used them as inspiration in his tumultuous relationship w ith his girlfriend Lesbia, using the Sapphic meter for the first and last poems he wrote to her, and beginning th e relationship with a translation of one of Sapphos poems. He, lik e Sappho, played with gender roles in his poetry, in places feminizing himself through his association with Sappho or use of metaphor, in other places asserting his mascu linity. His reference to the Sapphic muse demonstrates that he, like the Greeks, saw her as a source for inspiration.
55 Appendix: Pronunciation of the Greek Alphabet Alpha. Transliterated a. Pronounced like the a in father Beta. Transliterated b. Pronounced like b as in boy Gamma. Transliterated g Pronounce like g as in gold Before another gamma, a kappa, a xi, or a chi, transliterated n, and pronounced ng as in ring. Angelos in the Greek alphabet is Possibly also pronounced ng before mu. Delta. Transliterated d. Pronounced d as in do. Epsilon. Transliterated e Pronounced like the e in pet Zeta. Transliterated z Pronounced like zd in Attic Greek. Typically pronounced like z or dz by Classicists. Eta. Long epsilon. Transliterated e Pronounced similar to French tete Theta. Aspirated tau. Transliterated th Pronounced like t-h as in bathouse not like th as in thin in Attic Greek. Typically pronounced like th as in thin by Classicists. Iota. Transliterated i Has a long value and a shor t value. The short value is pronounced similar to the i in bit and the long value si m ilar to the vowel in bead. Kappa. Transliterated k Transliterated c by the Romans. Pronounced like the c in scare as opposed to the c in cannon. No breath escapes the mouth when making the sound. It is unaspirated, constrasting with aspirated chi Lambda. Transliterated l A lateral l sound, more akin to the French than the English, but still similar to l as in long. Mu. Transliterated m Pronounced like m as in mouse
56 Nu. Transliterated n. Pronounced similar to n in not but with the tongue pressed against the backs of the teeth. Xi. Transliterated x Pronounced x as in fox. Fully pronounced even at the beginnings of words; for example, xiphos is pronounced ksip-hos (see phi below for pronunciation of ph). Omicron. Transliterated o. Similar to the German Gott; less open than the o in pot Pi. Transliterated p. Pronounced like the p in spot as opposed to the p in pot ; no breath escapes the mouth when making the sound. It is unaspirated. Rho. Transliterated r Aspirated (and voiceless) at the beginning of a word and after another rho, in wh ich case it is transliterated rh Also aspirated after another aspirated consonant. Otherwise voiced. Vo iced rho is trilled, as in Italian. Sigma. Transliterated s There is also another va riation, the final sigma ( ). Prounounced like s as in silver Pronounced like z before voiced consonants. Tau. Transliterated t Pronounced like the t in stop as opposed to the t in top ; no breath escapes the mouth when making the sound. It is unaspirated. Upsilon. Transliterated u or y Transliterated y by the Romans; Eurydice in Greek would have been Has both short and long value. Pronounced wi as in the Latin qui or French oui in Attic Greek. Short upsilon wa s probably sim ilar to French lune ; long upsilon was probabl y similar to French ruse Pronounced u by Classicists. Phi. Transliterated ph. Pronounced p-h an aspirated pi, like the p in pot as opposed to the p in spot in Attic Greek. Typically pronounced f by Classicists.
57 Chi. Transliterated ch Pronounced k-h an aspirated kappa, in Attic Greek, like the sound made at the beginning of cannon. Typically pronounced by Classicists either like the ch of loch or like the ch of Christmas Psi. Transliterated ps Pronounced p-s like epsilon not like psychic Fully pronounced even at the beginnings of words. Omega. Long omic ron. Transliterated o. Pronounced like a lengthened omicron, as in the aw of saw ; distinguished from omicr on by Classicists by pronouncing it like the o in so In addition to these twen ty-four letters, Greek also has several diphthongs: pronounced like the i in ride ; similar in pronunciation to eta but more closed; pronounced like the oy in toy; pronounced like the ow in how ; pronounced like the Cockney pronunciation of belt (somewhere between oh and ew ); and pronounced similarly to omega.66 66 Vox Graeca
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