Homer and Sappho

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HUM 300 - Classical Humanities
March 1, 2013
Sappho’s poem, entitled Fragment 16, is of the lyrical style instead of the epic style we are used to in Homer’s Iliad. The lyrical style of poetry got its name because it was usually accompanied by a lyre while it was recited. It also was used to express more emotion rather than telling a story. This form of poetry seems to be more artistic rather than the story telling of epic poetry of the time. In this poem we are able to use the comparison of different imagery to understand a common theme within the poem itself. The reason for the interesting title of the poem is because most of Sappho’s poetry is now only found in fragmented forms. Most of Sappho’s writing is from 600 B.C.E.

As stated, Fragment 16 uses a comparative imagery. This allows the reader to easily understand what is being discussed and is able to relate to it. Sappho really evokes an understanding of love and beauty in this poem. She opens the idea that you find beauty in things because you love them. It’s almost as if she’s trying to get the reader to really think about what they love. Or what they find beautiful in this world. She gives her own example when she compares the imagery of the armies and the idea of Helen’s beauty and then compares that to Anactoria, who is her own personal icon of beauty. It’s like she’s trying to get her reader to really think about what inspires them. Culturally a lot of readers of the time would probably find inspiration in the imagery of the army, as that is what they held in valuable ideals at the time.

This allows to tie the poem to the time period in which Sappho lived and of course found inspirations for her own writing. For example, this poem gives you a moment to think about the army; the cavalry, the foot soldiers, and even the fleet. To think of these items as beautiful, idealistic. This, of course, is a very constant theme in a lot of art work from the Greek culture. Let’s take a look at the carving...
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