Sappho of Lesbos . She was a Greek poetess, considered one of the most outstanding poets of archaic Greek lyric poetry. She is presented as the teacher and founder of a school of poetry , called ” House of the servants of the Muses .”

He invented the verse today known as a Sapphic ode (three hendecasyllables and a final adonic of five syllables). According to a tradition that starts with Anacreon, he was homosexual . For her work she earned the nickname “the tenth muse”.


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  • 1 Biographical synthesis
    • 1 Early years
    • 2 Death
  • 2 His work
    • 1 Legacy
  • 3 Sources

Biographical synthesis

Early years

Little is known about her life, since there are almost no documents, but she did come from a family of aristocrats, she had three brothers and was married to a rich man who gave her a daughter named Cleis.

He lived all his life in Lesbos, in his time, that island was one of the most prosperous places in Greece ; however, for a short time, he had to go into exile in Sicily due to political instability due to aristocratic struggles.

She led the life of the women of the upper class, necessarily removed from the environment of political struggles and intrigues; according to a tradition that starts with Anacreon, he was homosexual.

She has been introduced as the teacher and founder of the Thiasos art school, also called “House of the servants of the Muses” where she taught a group of women the art of rhyme (reciting poetry, singing it), music , the dance , the literature , the science and make crowns and pendants flowers , making it difficult to certify, although it is true that coexisted with her colleagues in a relaxed atmosphere and conducive to contemplation and recreation in the art and beauty.

Safo’s work has an important erotic dimension, but it does not differentiate between male and female sex, deducing that Safo fell in love with his disciples and had relationships with many of them. Be that as it may, Sappho was at the center of a group of women who were guided by his teachings. She was the spiritual guide of many young women who, before living in marriage, had to learn to be happy in order to later make their husbands happy.


Although it is estimated that it was around the year 580 BC , the exact date of his death and the cause are unknown.

His work

Few certain data are had about Sappho, of whom only 650 verses have been preserved, extracted from late quotations and from the modern study of papyri.

From his work, which apparently consisted of nine books of varying length, some Epitalamios have been preserved, wedding songs for which he created his own rhythm and a new meter, which was renamed Sapphic, and fragments of poems addressed to some of the women who lived with her.

In them you can see the expression of a subjectivity that is recreated in subtle oscillations of mood, in an attempt to give shape to passion. It presents love passion as an irrational force, situated between good and evil, that takes over the human being and manifests itself in various forms, such as jealousy, desire or an intangible nostalgia, and even produces physical reactions, such as those that describes in detail in one of his poems, the most complete that has been preserved of it.

Sappho lived in the 6th century BC, when poetry was the literary genre par excellence of Ancient Greece . His lyrical poems, conceived to be accompanied by music, were the most outstanding of their time, although only a small part of his writings remain. Everything indicates that Sappho was a winner. They commissioned poems to be recited at weddings and banquets, and that gave him some economic autonomy.

Legend has it, extracted from the poet’s own work, in which she mentions Phaon, a man with whom the goddess Aphrodite herself fell in love , who committed suicide by jumping from the rock of Leukade by jumping into the sea when her love for Phaon was not saw reciprocated.



Sapho by Godward

His poetry had a great success already in Antiquity , and served as a source of inspiration for great poets, such as Theocritus or Catullus, from the Alexandrian period, the interest in preserving his work and trying to discover new parts became evident. Despite the fragmentary nature of her preserved production, it seems that Sappho succeeded in fulfilling her wish, in accordance with the Hellenic conception of poetry, to make her love endure through her poetic creation.

She earned the nickname “the tenth muse”, behind the nine inspiring divinities of the arts and sciences. This nickname, which equates Sappho, of flesh and blood, with the promoter deities of inspiration, demonstrates the importance that the island poet of her name had, in her time. Sappho played an important role in the world of poetry. His image decorated ceramic vessels and his face appeared on coins. She was an intelligent and knowledgeable woman in the arts and sciences.

Sappho and her compatriot Alceo are considered the most outstanding poets of archaic Greek lyric poetry. Sappho invented the three-syllable verse and a final adonic five-syllable known today as a Sapphic ode.

He wrote nine books of odes, epitalamios or wedding songs, elegies and hymns. Of these, only a few fragments and two complete poems remain: the Ode to the beloved woman , collected by Longinus in his book Treatise on the sublime, and the Ode to Aphrodite , collected by Dionysius of Halicarnassus . In 1703 , the Catholic Church ordered the burning of all copies of Sappho’s poems, of which only a third was recovered.

In 2004 new fragments of Sappho were found, which substantially expand and improve one of those already had of her.

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