Saturday, July 30, 2022

Sappho Sings of Artemis: fragment 44a

***Help make LGBT Meets SPQR better! If you can create a metrically accurate translation of this poem in Latin, we would gladly publish it on this blog!*** 

…Phoebo flavicomo*, quem peperit Coei filia [Latona]

Dum miscuit cum filio Saturni noto [Jove].

Diana autem deum sacramentum maximum fecit;

“Per tibi numen, [Pater hominum et deum],

Virgo in aeternum permaneo,

Venatrix per montes desolatos errabo.

Des hoc, pater, mihi optem!”

Hoc dicto, annuit deum pater.

Mortales immortalesque hanc vocant

Virginem, cervos-venatrix, deam.

Amor, ne hanc aggrediaris!

Φοίβῳ χρυσοκό[μ̣ᾳ, τὸν ἔτικτε Κόω κ̣[όρα

μίγεισ’ ὐψινέφει Κρ]ονίδᾳ μεγαλωνύμῳ·

Ἄρτεμις δὲ θέων] μέγαν ὄρκον ἀπώμοσε·

‘νὴ τὰν σὰν κεφά]λαν, ἄϊ πάρθενος ἔσσομαι

ἄδμης οἰοπό]λ̣ων ὀρέων κορύφα̣ι̣σ’ ἔπι

θηρεύοισ’· ἄγι καὶ τά]δ̣ε νεῦσον ἔμαν χάριν.’

ὢς εἶπ’· αὐτὰρ ἔνευ]σ̣ε θέων μακάρων πάτηρ.

πάρθενον δ’ ἐλαφάβ]ολον ἀγροτέραν θέο̣ι

ἄνθρωποί τε κάλε]ι̣σιν ἐπωνύμιον μέγα.

κήνᾳ λυσιμέλης] Ἔρος οὐδάμα πίλναται

* this fragment starts with a noun in the dative case. The noun is missing

--Sappho, Fragment 44a, Translated into Latin by Kris Masters

…for blonde Apollo, whom Leto bore

When she slept with the great-renowned Zeus.

But Artemis swore a serious oath:

‘Upon your head, I vow

That I will always remain a maiden,

Hunting on the desolate mountains

I will roam. Grant this to me.”

So she spoke. Zeus granted her wish.

Now men and gods alike call her Maiden, Hunter of Deer, Goddess.

Eros, stay far from her!



Name:  Σαπφώ / Sappho

Date:  630 – 570 BCE

Works:  <lost: only fragments remain>



Region 1: Peninsular Italy; Region 2: Western Europe; Region 3: Western Coast of Africa; Region 4: Egypt and Eastern Mediterranean; Region 5: Greece and the Balkans



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: (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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