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Hymn to Aphrodite constitutes a prayer: Sapho asks for Aphrodite's assistance in persuading her lover to return. Religion is important in understanding what this work would have meant for Sapho's audience and what its initial purpose would have been. For the Greeks, Aphrodite would have been more than a symbol of love: during Sapho's time, Aphrodite was worshiped and believed to influence the realm of love and marriage.
The moral is that worshipping the gods results in their help. In Hymn to Aphrodite, we learn that worshipping Aphrodite and believing in her power leads to the prayer being answered. Sapho emphasizes her respect for the goddess and acknowledges that she has helped her with past loves in stanzas 1-3. In the end, Sapho's earnest plea results in Aphrodite helping her.
Aphrodite is not only the god of love but is also an ideal of love itself. Sapho supplicates to Aphrodite that she is in anguish over a reluctant lover and asks for a reprieve. Aphrodite asks who the unwilling lover is this time indicating that this is not the first supplication. When the writer, Sapho, asks love to blossom in an unwilling participant she is gently reminded that she must wait for the spark to ignite on its own. The natural cycle of love is the theme and where there is love there is pain also.
The moral of the Hymn to Aphrodite is that love can never be forced. Sappho, who is assumed to be the speaker in the poem, is asking for Aphrodite's help with an unrequited love. Although Sappho is an esteemed poet, she cannot force the other person to love her.
The moral or main theme is heartache. The narrator has suffered being hurt from past loves. He is being hurt again by Aphrodite. Their love is unrequited.
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