Sappho – Greek poet
Sappho was a Greek lyric poet. She is one of the most important of the poets of the ancient Greek world. Her vivid, emotional manner of writing influenced poets through the ages.
She was born circa 625. However, the exact date of her birth and death are unknown. She was born in the city of Mytilene on the island of Lesbos in a noble family. She had three brothers. She is said to have married a wealthy man named Cercylas and had a daughter named Cleis.
Around the year 600 BC she was forced into exile to the island of Sicily, but was able to return.
She created the Sapphic stanza and may have been the first to accompany her poems with a harp.
In 1073 Pope Gregory VII likely burned any of her books that still survived, because her poetry was erotic and concerned with love between women. Typical topics of her poems are the worlds of beauty, personal relationships, and love.
Plato called her the “tenth Muse,” referring to the nine Greek goddesses who were the patrons of the arts and sciences.
An asteroid discovered in 1864 was named in her honor.
Sappho and Alcaeus
The exact date of the birth of the ancient Greek poetess Sappho is unknown. Most likely, she was born in 612 BC in a small town on the island of Lesbos. Since ancient times Greek tribes inhabited the island. They were musical and poetic, appreciated the harmony and beauty of not only the soul but also of the human body. Sappho was raised in the world of music and songs. Her name is in the history of the world as the name of an ancient female poet who praised love, longing and heartfelt beauty of nature.
Her life is shrouded in legend. It is known that she became an orphan at the age of six and lived with the brothers in the town of Mytilene. However, in 595 BC, when there was a slave rebellion, the girl was forced to leave the country and spent fifteen years in Sicily. It was a difficult period for the poet, the years of bitter homesickness. At the same time, nostalgic, heart-rending poems of the young Greek appeared.
Returning home Sappho organized school called House of Muses which was visited by girls from all over the Mediterranean. Sappho became a close friend for her pupils and some of their names still live in the lines of the great poetess. The girls were taught art, music, dance, poetry and wisdom of love, and a few years later they became the most desirable brides and mistresses of wealthy gentlemen, not only in Greece, but also in Rome.
In Mytilene poet married noble officer Cercylas and gave birth to a daughter who wasn’t destined to live long. Soon she became a widow. The poet devoted herself to creativity and love for her students.
One day Sappho met poet Alcaeus. He was famous, rich and handsome. Alcaeus fell in love with a woman. He devoted a number of poems to his favorite.
Burning with love, Alcaeus could not find consolation, returning again and again to the talented poet in his works. However, Sappho did not agree to marry him.
Alcaeus suffered, and Sappho, according to one of the legends, was passionately in love with a handsome young boy named Phaon. He was much younger than her, and did not respond to the feelings of aging women. The boy rejected her, and poet climbed the rock and jumped into the sea.
According to other sources, this story is just a beautiful legend. Some contemporaries of the ancient Greek poet claimed that she did not think to jump off a cliff; she lived to an old age and died surrounded by her favorite students.
Many years have passed, and she became a symbol of women’s love to each other.