Sappho's Ancient Perception of Love

Topics: Love, Sappho, Homosexuality Pages: 3 (1013 words) Published: December 8, 2004
Sappho was a one of the best-known female Greek lyrists of all time. She was an aristocrat who married a rich merchant and had one daughter, Cleis. Having enough wealth to live life comfortably allowed Sappho time to develop beautiful poems and sing them as she played the lyre. Sappho was the head of a thiasos, a school for teaching girls skills such as music, singing, and dancing. One theme prevalent in almost every set of fragments that we have today, written by her, is that of love. She speaks of love often and used simple grammar with powerful emotion to display her feelings, mostly regarding women. Scholars have argued over how the love in her poems is supposed to be perceived, however, if one should analyze some of her poetry it is easy to form one's own educated guess as to her intentions. Some could say that the love expressed in her poems was more of a motherly kind of love. It is easy to compare the despair and longing displayed in the poems Sappho would write, as she saw one of her pupils leave the island after marriage, to that of a mother watching her beloved daughter leaving home as a grown woman for the first time. Others argue that this love is more erotic and sexual; these scholars have taken the approach that Sappho was possibly homosexual or bisexual, but they have little evidence to support these claims. There are more than a couple sites on the internet that have even bothered to break love down into 9 different kinds; Affection, Sexual, Platonic, Romantic, Passionate, Puppy, Friendship, Infatuation, and Committed. These types of love even have guidelines posted underneath them so you can analyze your love or that of someone else. Lets try this for Sappho concerning the young women that she wrote of. She was obviously affectionate towards the women mentally because it is obvious from her poems that she cared for them very much, but it is unknown if she was physically affectionate or intimate. Her love seems to include all the aspects of...

Cited: North, Alix. Isle of Lesbos. 2004
Powers, Jennifer. Sappho and Her Wedding Songs. 2000

Visions of Love. 9 Types of Love. 2004
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