» » » Sappho: Memoir, text, selected renderings, and a literal translation

Sappho: Memoir, text, selected renderings, and a literal translation

Sappho: Memoir, text, selected renderings, and a literal translation
Title: Sappho: Memoir, text, selected renderings, and a literal translation
Release Date: 2018-06-25
Type book: Text
Copyright Status: Public domain in the USA.
Date added: 27 March 2019
Count views: 34
Read book
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 ... 31


Portrait of Sappho
L. Alma Tadema
J. Cother Webb




Πάντα καθαρὰ τοῖς καθαροῖς.

First Edition. Fcap. 8vo. Pp. xii+190.

One Illustration. David Stott. 1885.

Second Edition. Fcap. 8vo. Pp. xvi+213.

Two Illustrations, David Stott. 1887.

Third Edition. Fcap. 8vo. Pp. xx+217.

Three Illustrations, John Lane. 1895.

Fourth Edition. Fcap. 8vo. Pp. xx+222.

Three Illustrations and Memoir of Mr.

Wharton. John Lane. 1898.

Fifth Edition. Fcap. 8vo. Pp. xxxii+217.

Three Illustrations and Memoir of Mr.

Wharton. John Lane. 1908.

Printed by Ballantyne & Co. Limited

Tavistock Street, London



I would fain have enriched this edition of my Sappho with some new words of the poetess, if only even to the slight extent which I reached in 1887; but, to the world's sorrow, that pleasure has been denied me. Still, we need not yet give up all hope, after the unexpected discovery of the unknown Mimiambi of Herondas, on a papyrus-roll used to stuff an Egyptian mummy-case, so few years ago (cf. The Academy, Oct. 11, 1890).

Neverthless, I can now present to the lovers of Sappho a good deal more than was heretofore in my power; in a new form, it is true, but with the same beautiful Greek type. And with this third edition I am enabled to give a reproduction, in photogravure, of the charming picture of Mitylene by the late Mr. Clarkson Stanfield, R.A., for which I am primarily indebted to Dr. R. Garnett, of the British Museum.

Since it was my privilege, if I may say so without arrogance, to introduce Sappho to {vi}English readers in the year 1885, in a form which they could understand, whether they knew any Greek or none, and in the entirety of every known word of hers, there has arisen a mass of literature upon the subject of the greatest lyrist of all time. To enumerate the pictures that have been painted, the articles and books and plays that have been written, which have appealed to the public in the last ten years, would be an almost impossible task. In my Bibliography I have endeavoured to give a reference to all that is of prominent and permanent interest, ranging from 'the postman poet,' Mr. Hosken, to the felicitous paraphrases—some fractions of which I have taken the liberty to quote in the text—of 'Michael Field' in her Long Ago.

The translation of the Hymn to Aphrodite, which was made for me by the late J. Addington Symonds, now appears in the amended form in which he finally printed it. Professor Palgrave has kindly allowed me to include some versions of his, made many years ago. The late Sir R. F. Burton made a metrical translation of Catullus, which has recently been published, and I am grateful to Lady Burton for allowing me to reprint his version of the Roman poet's Ode to Lesbia.

The only critical edition of the text of {vii}Sappho since that of Bergk—the text which I adopt—has been made by Mr. G. S. Farnell, headmaster of the Victoria College, Jersey; from which I have had considerable assistance.

As regards erudite scholarship, the investigations of Professor Luniak, of the Kazan University, deserve more attention than it is within the scope of my book to give them. I reviewed his essay in some detail in The Academy for July 19, 1890, p. 53. The criticisms upon it by Professor Naguiewski, in his disputation for the doctorate two years later, go far to prove that my appreciation of Sappho's character cannot be easily shaken. That rapturous fragment of Sophocles—

Ὦ θεοί, τίς ἆρα Κύπρις, ἢ τίς ἵμερος,

τοῦδε ξυνήψατο;

(O gods, what love, what yearning, contributed to this?) still remains to me the keynote of what Sappho has been through all the ages.




April 1895.



The cordial reception which the first edition of my little book met with has encouraged me to make many improvements in this re-issue. Unforeseen delays in its production have also helped me to advance upon my first essay. Among other changes, I have been able to obtain a new fount of Greek type, which has to me a peculiar beauty. Unfamiliar though some of the letters may appear at first sight, they reproduce the calligraphy of the manuscripts of the most artistic period of the Middle Ages. This type has been specially cast in Berlin, by favour of the Imperial Government. In a larger size it is not unknown to English scholars, but such as I am now enabled to present has never been used before.

Last spring a telegram from the Vienna correspondent of the Times announced that {ix}some new verses of Sappho had been found among the Fayum papyri in the possession of the Archduke Rnier. When the paper on his Imperial Highness' papyri was read before the Imperial Academy of Science by Dr. Wilhelm Ritter von Hartel on the 10th of March, it became evident that the remark was made, not in allusion to the Archduke's possessions, but to that portion of the Fayum manuscripts which had been acquired by the Imperial Museum in Berlin. The verses referred to were indeed no other than the two fragments which had been deciphered and criticised by the celebrated scholar, Dr. F. Blass, of Kiel, in the Rheinisches Museum for 1880; and further edited by Bergk in the posthumous edition of his Poetae Lyrici Graeci. I am now able, not only to print the text of these fragments and a translation of them, but also, through the courtesy of the Imperial Government of Germany, to give an exact reproduction of photographs of the actual scraps of parchment on which they were written a thousand years ago. Dr. Erman, the Director of the Imperial Egyptian Museum, kindly furnished me with the photographs; and the Autotype Company has copied them with its well-known fidelity.

Among many other additions, that which I {x}have been able to make to fragment 100 is particularly interesting. The untimely death of the young French scholar, M. Charles Graux, who found the quotation among the dry dust of Choricius' rhetorical orations, is indeed to be deplored. Had he lived longer he might have cleared up for us many another obscure passage in the course of his studies of manuscripts which have not hitherto found an editor.

The publication of the memoir on Naukratis by the Committee of the Egypt Exploration Fund last autumn is an event worthy of notice, the town having been so intimately connected with Sappho's story. On one of the pieces of pottery found at Naucratis by Mr. Petrie occur the inscribed letters ΣΑΦ (pl. xxxiv., fig. 532), which some at first thought might refer to Sappho; but the more probable restoration is εἰ]ς Ἀφ[ροδίτην, 'to Aphrodite.'

Since the issue of my first edition, M. De Vries has published, at Leyden, an exhaustive dissertation upon Ovid's Epistle, Sappho to Phaon, which has caused me to modify some of my conclusions regarding it. Although Ovid's authorship of this Epistle seems to me now to be sufficiently vindicated, I still remain convinced that we are not justified in taking the statements in it as historically accurate.

It is curious also that a candidate for the {xi}degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the University of Erlangen offered, as his inaugural dissertation, in 1885, an account of 'Sappho the Mitylenean.' The author, Joacheim I. Paulidos, is a native of Lesbos. It is a pamphlet of sixty pages, written, not in modern, but in classical Greek. His opening sentence, Μία καὶ μόνη ἐγένετο Σαπφώ—'Sappho stands alone and unique,' comes near the meaning, but misses the polish of the phrase—gives his dominant tone; his acceptance of her character greatly resembles mine.

Since the years now and then bring to light some fresh verses of Sappho's, there is a faint hope that more may still be found. The rich store of parchments and papyri discovered in the Fayum has not all been examined yet. Indeed, among a few of these which were lost in the custom-house at Alexandria in 1881-2, M. Maspero, the renowned Director of Explorations in Egypt, thought he had detected the perfume of Sappho's art.

It is pleasing to see (cf. fragment 95) that our own Poet Laureate has again recurred, in his latest volume of poems, to a phrase from Sappho which he had first used nearly sixty years ago; and that he calls her 'the poet,' implying her supremacy by the absence of any added epithet.


I am indebted to many kind friends and distinguished scholars for much assistance. Among them I must especially thank Professor Blass, of Kiel. Notwithstanding the frequent recurrence of his name on my pages, I owe more to his cordial help and criticism than I can acknowledge here.

Little more than I have given is needed to prove how transcendent an artist Sappho was; but I cannot forbear concluding with an extract from a recent essay on poetry by Mr. Theodore Watts-Dunton:—

'Never before these songs were sung, and never since, did the human soul, in the grip of a fiery passion, utter a cry like hers; and, from the executive point of view, in directness, in lucidity, in that high imperious verbal economy which only Nature can teach the artist, she has no equal, and none worthy to take the place of second.'


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 ... 31
Comments (0)
reload, if the code cannot be seen
Free online library ideabooks.net