The Poems of Sappho / Σαπφώ

Translated by Edwin Marion Cox [1925]
Transliterated by J.B. Hare free ebook

By J.B Hare
The poet Sappho lived in the sixth century B.C. on the island of Lesbos, which is situated in the Northeastern Aegean. We do not know the exact date of her birth or death, but it has been suggested that she was alive from about 610 B.C to 570 B.C. Her family is known to have been wealthy merchants; Lesbos in the sixth century B.C. was very prosperous. That she lived a life of luxury, and loved beatiful clothes and ornaments is clear from several allusions in the fragments. In addition, it is known that women of Lesbos at this time were exceptionally liberated and moved freely in social and religious circles. Lesbos was the center of a flourishing school of lyric poetry. Some of the other Lesbian poets of this period were Terpander and Alcaeus, and there were several other women poets.
Sappho was born in either Eresus or Mytilene, but lived most of her life in Mytiline. Herodotus, who wrote about 150 years after Sappho’s death, said that her fathers name was Scamandronymous. We know that she had three brothers, named Charaxus, Larichus, and Eurygius. From Athenaeus we learn that Larichus had the post of cup-bearer at Mytilene, which was an honorary office only open to the aristocracy. It is therefore assumed that Sappho and her family were of the upper class. Charaxus as a merchant who exported the renowned wine of Lesbos to Naucratis in Egypt. He was reputed to have married a wealthy Egyptian woman named Doricha, who is mentioned in Herodotus. Nothing is known of her third brother. free ebook