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Unread 07-15-2019, 12:48 PM
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Allen Tice Allen Tice is offline
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xxx Aaron, I've tried to use all your suggestions. I miss "scattered", which came from "shattered" of course. "Lyre" has small sonic problems that "lute" lacked, but it's more accurate and almost one syllable. The current Wikipedia article (here) on Sappho considerably clarifies the existence of her daughter Kleis, and her exile to Syracuse. I don't think there's a consensus about whether Kleis was born before the exile or after. Here's a good place to set out a scholar's argument of what I've long felt. Emphases are mine.


Christina A. Clark, The Poetics of Manhood in July 2008 issue of Classical Philology (University of Chicago) [~pp 250 263]

xxx A different take on this fragment. In the article cited above, Christina A. Clark points out that at least four Latin poets closely alluded to Sappho's self-description in fragment 31: Catullus (ffr 51 all; 64 line 99) and Horace (Ode 1.13) of course; but also Lucretius (discussing fear) and Valerius Aedituus (the first of two epigrams in the Noctes Atticae of Aulus Gellius). Christina Clark, p 261:

xxx "All these poets except Lucretius use elements in Sappho 31 in their own amatory poems, whereas Lucretius, who translates her most faithfully, changes the context of the affect displays back to epic fear. Lucretius gives his fearful man all of the affect displays seen in Sappho 31,..."

xxx A table on p 258 lists the symptoms of fear given by Lucretius: "Mind disturbed, soul feels fear. Tongue breaks: voice disappears. Eyes black out. Ears ring. Sweat. Limbs give way. Pallor."

xxx I would myself note that in his own version (fr 51), Catullus becomes upset first at the moment when he sees his male rival in the love triangle contemplating the darling of both men (". . . again and again he gazes at you ... which snatches all my senses away from wretched me -- identidem te spectat ... misero quod omnis eripit sensus mihi"). Sappho was said to be 'plain' in appearance (whatever that means!), or at least not flashy by archaic standards, and who could judge for certain now? But reading Sappho's fragment 31, we will note that Sappho's troubled state begins when she sees the superbly charming other woman, the third party in her own inimitable romantic triangle.

xxx 'Plain' or not, Sappho is not physically upset by the fortunate and/or good-looking man that she flatters. Given our ignorance about Sappho's many friendships one cannot say, but one might venture that it is reasonable to allow the possibility for a moment at least that Sappho's symptoms of fear were caused by the other woman, that other woman who upset her body so much, and who was commanding the attention of a heavenly man whom Sappho for some reason wanted to pay attention to herself.
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