Discussion Topics

(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

How can a knowledge of musical construction help the reader to understand the form of Sappho’s poems?

In what senses was Sappho a “lesbian”?

Barring future discoveries concerning her work, why will it remain difficult to judge Sappho as a poet?

William Wordsworth wrote of poetry as “emotion recollected in tranquillity.” Is there evidence that Sappho had a similar view?

What poets have been particularly influenced by Sappho?


(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Further Reading:

Bowra, C. Maurice. Greek Lyric Poetry: From Alcman to Simonides. 2d ed. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press, 1961. A classic review of seven Greek lyric poets stressing their historical development and critiquing important works. Offers groundbreaking theories of the poets as a group and as individual writers. Views Sappho as the leader of a society of girls that excluded men and worshipped the Muses and Aphrodite.

Burnett, Anne Pippin. Three Archaic Poets: Archilochus, Alcaeus, Sappho. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1983. Rejects theories of ancient Greek lyrics as either passionate outpourings or occasional verse. Describes Sappho’s aristocratic circle and critiques six major poems.

DuBois, Page. Sappho Is Burning. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995. The title is taken from part of David A. Campbell’s translation of Sappho’s fragment 48, in which the poet’s “heart” is “burning with desire.” DuBois assumes and examines an aesthetics of fragmentation and veers to a strained “postmodern” appreciation of the poet.

Greene, Ellen, ed. Reading Sappho and Re-reading Sappho. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996. A two-volume collection of essays and articles (by writers such as Mary Lefkowitz, Holt N. Parker, and...

(The entire section is 443 words.)