Sunday, December 05, 2004

Some Notes on Sappho's Poems

Poem 1- “Deathless Aphrodite of the spangled mind”—apparently Sappho was obsessed with Aphrodite, the goddess of love and wine, fertility, etc…
Poem 2- What is frankincence? Is it what smokes on an altar, like incense?
Poem 5- the poem begins and ends with a reference to Kyrpis, who was a Greek goddess and an epithet of the godess Aprohdite, who Sappho adored.
Poem 16- “she] remineded me now of Anaktoria who is gone”—Anaktoria was thought to be a woman that Sappho loves best.
Poem 22- mention of Gongyla and Abanthis- apparently they are two women, of whom nothing else is known but their mention in this poem. Gongyla is mentioned again in poem 95
Poem 94- “and neither any [sacred grove] nor any holy place nor was there from which we were absent no grove [no feeling] no dance ] no sound [no sight]
Poem 96- this is a very feminine poem, I believe it to be a detailed description of a goddess. It uses words like “flowerdeep fields,” “rosyfingered moon,” chervil and flowering sweetclover,” etc… which evokes the “girls are made of sugar and spice and everything nice” type of classification of the female sex.
Poem 105a- “as the sweetapple reddens on a high branch high on the highest branch and the applepickers forgot—no, not forgot: were unable to reach” -- this seems like a biblical allusion to the fall of humankind from Eden, even though it was way before biblical times. Because the apple is unattainable—“were unable to reach” – it evokes an allusion to the forbidden fruit.

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