Sappho was an ancient Greek poet writing during the archaic period. She wrote lyric poems that would likely have been sung to music, primarily dealing with the subject of love. Today, only fragments of her works remain.
Unlike Homer, whose epic poems told stories of gods and heroes, Sappho's poetry dealt with more intimate themes, likely drawing from her own personal life as opposed to legend. When Sappho's poems do make reference to the ancient Greek gods, the gods generally exist not as characters or actors, but as personifications of emotions of love, as in the lines, “Once again Eros drives me on, that loosener of limbs, bittersweet creature against which nothing can be done.” Here "Eros," or Cupid, could just as easily be translated as "love" without the line losing its meaning.
The themes of love and desire in Sappho's poetry have led to speculation about her sexuality. In many of the fragments we have of her poetry, the gender of the object of her desire is either ambiguous or, in some cases, explicitly female. Today it is these themes of female desire and lesbianism that are most closely associated with Sappho's work, so much so that the word "lesbian" derives from the island Lesbos, where Sappho lived and worked, and an adjective, "sapphic," has been derived from the poet's name to mean "relating to lesbians or lesbianism."