Writers 2 Remember: SAPPHO

One of “The Greatest Lyric Poets

Not a lot is know about the life of Sappho, or Psappha (in her native language of Aeolic Greek), who’s from the island of Lesbos. What is known? This renown and prolific poet lived from approximately c. 630 to c. 570 BC. She was considered one of the greatest lyric poets in antiquity, receiving titles like the “Tenth Muse” (by Plato) and “The Poetess” (since she was seen as the female counterpart of Homer, and he was known as “the poet“).

“Most of Sappho’s poetry is now lost, and what is extant has mostly survived in fragmentary form; only the “Ode to Aphrodite” is certainly complete.”


Why hasn’t her work survived? “Christian moralists pronounced anathemas upon her” and destroyed her legacy. Later Christians censored her, calling her such condemning names as “a whore who sang about her own licentiousness.” Some, like “Saint Gregory of Nazianzus and Pope Gregory VII ordered her works burned,” but still they couldn’t silent her.

Thankfully, Sapphos’ art was passed on in oral traditions by her fans and “preserved by others writing about her life who quoted from her works.” This passionate poet continues to make an impression upon the literary world by leaving us with “one of the meters in which she composed her poems” that became known as the Sapphic verse or Sapphic stanza.

“The ancients referred to her works as melê, “songs.” Composed to be sung to the accompaniment of a lyre—this is what “lyric” poetry meant for the Greeks—they may well have been passed down from memory by her admirers and other poets before being committed at last to paper.”


Sappho is recognized as the first to devaluation visible (or physical) beautiful in favor of the inner good (spiritual beauty).[66] She is considered to have significantly revolutionized poetry by making it personal and direct. In addition, despite the efforts of haters trying to erase her from history, she withstood their aggression to remain an important historical person and a central figure in modern gender and sexuality debates. For that, I consider her a writer to remember.

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