Erinna Analysis

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(Literature and the Ancient World, Critical Edition)

Though Erinna (ih-RIHN-uh) wrote for only a short period of time, she and her work were praised by the ancients; Antipater lists her as one of the “nine earthly Muses.” Of her works, only six fragments survive, the best of which is fifty-four lines of Elakate, or The Distaff, a lament for her childhood friend Baucis. Erinna’s poetry celebrated the domestic life using “heroic language,” and she even moved beyond her native Doric dialect perhaps to mimic the works of Sappho. Her style ranged from puns to laments to metaphors, covering both lyric and epigrammatic forms.


(Literature and the Ancient World, Critical Edition)

Today she is cited as one of only a few women writers in the ancient world whose works survive. Her work is a source for study about everyday life in Greece in the Classical period.

Additional Resources

(Literature and the Ancient World, Critical Edition)

Balmer, Josephine. Classical Woman Poets. Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England: Bloodaxe Books, 1996.

Rayor, Diane. Sappho’s Lyre: Archaic Lyric Women Poets of Ancient Greece. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991.

Snyder, Jane McIntosh. The Woman and the Lyre: Women Writers in Classical Greece and Rome. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1989.