Love and Sappho

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Analysis Essay- Sappho

Sappho’s poem, “To an Army Wife, in Sardis”, is one of the few poems of the Greek poetess from the 7th century B.C., which was saved for posterity. This poem involves the reader in a very personal debate over what deserves to be valued in life, the military values, or the true love of a person for somebody, the poetess offering to the audience her opinion, “but I say that whatever one loves is”, from the beginning. The poem will make the reader, through a very simple, yet complex language, feel, see and hear the images the author has in mind. From the beginning it can be noticed that the poem has a quite symmetrical structure: it starts with the presentation of the war and of martial values, then, it makes you think of love and the defense of love, emphasizing that true love is more important than war, and it ends with a closing image about the war field again. The way the poem is structured, the same way, the reader is led to think and feel about what is more important in life. The poem starts by “Some say” and goes on in the second stanza with “but I say”, creating the atmosphere of a free debate, in which, the poetess does not want to make the others accept her ideas, but rather make people understand that a person is free to choose her own priorities in life and love. Sappho says that some people would value more “a cavalry corps”, or “the swift oars” of a fleet, but, in her opinion, nothing is more important than what one person loves. To prove her theory, she brings forward the decision of the beautiful Helen of Troy, one of the most contradictory feminine characters, reinterpreting historical facts, at least in the way they had been presented in the Iliad. It is, as if, Sappho would say that the way Helen’s experience generated discussions, in the same way any other person is free to make a choice. Helen, in Sappho’s view followed her desire against everybody and everything and when she had to make a choice between Troy and...
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