Ancient Greece's most intriguing erotic poet - Diane J. Rayor
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One of the four experts on Talking History, Margaret Reynolds, discusses gender fluidity in the animated video Gender, love and sex: What can we learn from the ancient Greek poet Sappho? (2019). Without diminishing Sappho’s intensely homoerotic lyrics, everyone feels desire or passion, and the gender of a fragment’s speaker or beloved is not always specified. Sappho’s famous fragment 31 (Songs of Sappho, Painetai) in which the Greek makes clear in one word that the speaker is female is also read and discussed in the 2021 video interview The Life & Loves of Sappho | Gay History with Tom Ranzweiler.
For background on Sappho and translation, see Daniel Mendelsohn’s article How Gay Was Sappho? Since one cannot simply place tracing paper over the Greek and draw up an English copy, literary translation is both art and skill. Sappho translations should sound good when read aloud as well as maintain meaning and imagery, neither adding to nor subtracting from the original. For the most complete literary translation in English, see: Rayor, D. J. & Lardinois, A. Sappho: A New Translation of the Complete Works, 2014. A revised paperback edition is in process. Fragment 96 about desire for Atthis can be viewed in the preview in Google Books. The accuracy of the translation depends upon using the most up-to-date Greek editions (C. Neri and F. Cinti, 2017 Greek/Italian edition and D.A. Campbell, 1990 Greek/English edition) and scholarship (The Cambridge Companion to Sappho, 2021). For information on the most recently discovered Sappho and an article on translating Sappho, see: “Reimagining the Fragments of Sappho through Translation,” in the Open Access The Newest Sappho (P. Obbink and P. GC Inv. 105, frs. 1-5), 2016.
The information on the ancient Egyptian garbage dump where much of the Sappho papyri were found is best explained on Oxyrhynchus: A City and its Texts, Virtual Exhibition and Oxyrhynchus Online. Sappho is read aloud in Greek here http://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/hearing-sappho. For the ancient music, a famous vase painting, as well as a Sappho activity sheet, watch Panoply Vase Animation Project/Sappho. Two samples of Sappho’s songs continuing to live on in song today are Lyre 'n' Rhapsody (fragment 2), Chagall - Sappho Song live performance with mimu gloves (fragment 31).
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