Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Daughter of Simon (or Eumenus or Eerigytius or Ecyrtus or Semus): Sappho, Suda S.107

It is important to note how the author of the Suda defines Sappho by the men she is connected to (her father, her brothers, her husband, and her peers); her achievements are added as an afterthought. Although this article provides information from lost sources about the poet's life, it is important to note that it was written over a thousand years after Sappho's lifetime by a Christian scholar who may have deliberately suppressed information on Sappho's life in order for her to align with the mores of his contemporary readers.

Sappho: Simonis filia: vel ut alii, Eunomini: ut alii Eerigyi: ut alii Ecryti: ut alii Semi: ut alii Camonis: ut alii Etarchi: ut alii Scamandronymi. Matrem habuit Clidem: fuitque Lesbia, Eresso oriunda & Lyrica. Vixit Olympiade XLII quo tempore & Alcaeus & Stesichorus & Pittacus floruerunt. Fratres eius tres fuerunt, Larychus, Charaxus, Eurygius. Nupsit cuidam Cercolae, viro ditissimo, Andrio; ex quo suscepit filiam, quae Clis vocabatur. Sodales eius & amicae fuerunt tres, Atthis, Telesippa, Megara: cum quibus etiam turpem consuetudinem habuisse dicebatur. Discipulae eius fuerunt Anagora Milesia, Gongyla Colophonia, Eunica Salaminia. Scripsit carminum Lyricorum libros IX & prima plectrum invenit. Scripsit etiam Epigrammata & Elegias & Iambos & Monodias.

Σαπφώ, Σίμωνος, οἱ δὲ Εὐμήνου, οἱ δὲ Ἠεριγύου, οἱ δὲ Ἐκρύτου, οἱ δὲ Σήμου, οἱ δὲ Κάμωνος, οἱ δὲ Ἐτάρχου, οἱ δὲ Σκαμανδρωνύμου: μητρὸς δὲ Κλειδός: Λεσβία ἐξ Ἐρεσσοῦ, λυρική, γεγονυῖα κατὰ τὴν μβ# Ὀλυμπιάδα, ὅτε καὶ Ἀλκαῖος ἦν καὶ Στησίχορος καὶ Πιττακός. ἦσαν δὲ αὐτῇ καὶ ἀδελφοὶ τρεῖς, Λάριχος, Χάραξος, Εὐρύγιος. ἐγαμήθη δὲ ἀνδρὶ Κερκύλᾳ πλουσιωτάτῳ, ὁρμωμένῳ ἀπὸ Ἄνδρου, καὶ θυγατέρα ἐποιήσατο ἐξ αὐτοῦ, ἣ Κλεὶς ὠνομάσθη. ἑταῖραι δὲ αὐτῆς καὶ φίλαι γεγόνασι τρεῖς, Ἀτθίς, Τελεσίππα, Μεγάρα: πρὸς ἃς καὶ διαβολὴν ἔσχεν αἰσχρᾶς φιλίας. μαθήτριαι δὲ αὐτῆς Ἀναγόρα Μιλησία, Γογγύλα Κολοφωνία, Εὐνείκα Σαλαμινία. ἔγραψε δὲ μελῶν λυρικῶν βιβλία θ#. καὶ πρώτη πλῆκτρον εὗρεν. ἔγραψε δὲ καὶ ἐπιγράμματα καὶ ἐλεγεῖα καὶ ἰάμβους καὶ μονῳδίας.

--Suda S.107, Translated into Latin by Christian Wolf. 

Sappho: The daughter of Simon (or, as others assert: the daughter of Eunominus, or Eertius, or Semus, or Camon, or Etarchus, or Scamandronymus). Her mother’s name was Cleis. She was from the island of Lesbos, born in Eressus, and was a lyric poet. She lived during the 42nd Olympiad, and was a contemporary of Alcaeus, Stesichorus, and Pittacus. She had three brothers: Larychus, Charaxus, and Eurygius. She married a man named Cercylas, a very wealthy man from the island of Andros; together they had a daughter named Cleis. She had three “friends”: Atthis, Telesippa, and Megara. It is said that she had an affair with them. Anagora of Miletis, Gongyla of Colophon, and Eunica of Salamis were her students. She wrote nine books of lyric poetry, and invented the plectrum*. She also wrote epigrams, elegies, iambic poetry, and monodies. 

* The plectrum is similar to a guitar pick.



Name:  Σαπφώ / Sappho

Date:  630 – 570 BCE

Works:  <lost: only fragments remain>



Map of Roman Empire Divided into Regions



Sappho was universally applauded by the ancient world as the “Tenth Muse.” Because she was one of the earliest Greek lyric poets, there is very little definitive information on Sappho’s life.  It is generally agreed that Sappho was a wealthy noblewoman from the island of Lesbos who had three brothers and a daughter named Kleis. She used her prominent social position to support a cohort of other women artists, and composed many poems about them, expressing her love for them, praising their beauty, and celebrating their marriages. Whereas earlier Greek poetry was epic poetry with serious themes of gods, warfare, and the state, Sappho’s lyric poetry is emotional, intimate and personal. Her poetry centers around womanhood and womanly love, providing rare insight into social mores of the time period. The modern term “lesbian” (a woman who is attracted to another woman) reveals the longevity of her impact upon western culture [NOTE: Although “lesbian” is the accepted term in modern English, authors in the ancient world used a different word for a homosexual woman, and only occasionally used the term “lesbian” euphemistically]. Unfortunately, although her poetry was universally revered by the Greeks and Romans alike, Sappho’s works only exist as fragments, adding mysterious allure to her larger-than-life status but unfortunately hindering our understanding of her life and thoughts.

 Archaic Greek

ARCHAIC: (through 6th c. BCE); GOLDEN AGE: (5th - 4th c. BCE); HELLENISTIC: (4th c. BCE - 1st c. BCE); ROMAN: (1st c. BCE - 4th c. CE); POST CONSTANTINOPLE: (4th c. CE - 8th c. CE); BYZANTINE: (post 8th c CE)



Name:  ???

Date:  10th c. CE

Works:  Suda



Map of Roman Empire Divided into Regions



 The Suda is a literary encyclopedia created in the 10th century CE by an anonymous Byzantine scholar.


ARCHAIC: (through 6th c. BCE); GOLDEN AGE: (5th - 4th c. BCE); HELLENISTIC: (4th c. BCE - 1st c. BCE); ROMAN: (1st c. BCE - 4th c. CE); POST CONSTANTINOPLE: (4th c. CE - 8th c. CE); BYZANTINE: (post 8th c CE)

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