Sappho's Immortal Daughters / Edition 1 available in Paperback
- Pub. Date:
She lived on the island of Lesbos around 600 B.C.E. She composed lyric poetry, only fragments of which survive. And she wasand isthe most highly regarded woman poet of Greek and Roman antiquity.
Little more than this can be said with certainty about Sappho, and yet a great deal more is said. Her life, so little known, is the stuff of legends; her poetry, the source of endless speculation. This book is a search for Sappho through the poetry she wrote, the culture she inhabited, and the myths that have risen around her. It is an expert and thoroughly engaging introduction to one of the most enduring and enigmatic figures of antiquity.Margaret Williamson conducts us through ancient representations of Sappho, from vase paintings to appearances in Ovid, and traces the route by which her work has reached us, shaped along the way by excavators, editors, and interpreters. She goes back to the poet's world and time to explore perennial questions about Sappho: How could a woman have access to the public medium of song? What was the place of female sexuality in the public and religious symbolism of Greek culture? What is the sexual meaning of her poems? Williamson follows with a close look at the poems themselves, Sappho's "immortal daughters." Her book offers the clearest picture yet of a woman whose place in the history of Western culture has been at once assured and mysterious.
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)|
About the Author
Margaret Williamson is Senior Lecturer in Classical Studies, St. Mary's University College, University of Surrey.
Table of Contents
Note on Sappho's Texts
Papyrus into Print
Poetry and Politics
Sexuality and Ritual
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Most educated laymen will immediately recognize the name of Sappho, the Greek poetess whose works were revered in the ancient world and whose name still resonates today. Yet few probably realize how little of Sappho's works have survived. Sappho's 'works' consist of the merest fragments. Only one poem survives in its entirety. Margaret Williamson's book does a fine job of explaining to the modern reader not just why Sappho's reputation is deserved, but how it survived intact to the present day. Especially interesting are her discussions of the production and transmission of written texts in the ancient world, the transition from papyrus scroll to parchment codex as the primary medium of preservation, and the recovery of literary fragments in nineteenth century archaeological excavations. Along the way, Ms. Williamson manages to touch on a host of related topics, such as Sappho's alleged lesbianism, the role of women in ancient Greek society, and the problems of translating and editing Sappho's surviving poetic fragments. Though some of the author's discussions of the place of women in ancient Greece may be a bit too esoteric for many general readers, her lucid prose and clear presentation of the facts make the book a pleasure to read.