Sappho

7 Greeks, translated by Guy Davenport. 213 fragments in 48 pages; no Greek. Translation, essay, and notes by Guy Davenport.
If Not, Winter, translated by Anne Carson. 192 fragments; Greek included. Translation, essays, and notes by Anne Carson. 9-page glossary.
The Love Songs of Sappho, translated by Paul Roche. 171 fragments; no Greek. Translation and essay by Paul Roche. 12-page introduction by Page DuBois. 15-page glossary. 7-page bibliography.
Sappho and the Greek Lyric Poets, translated by Willis Barnstone. 141 fragments occupy 10% of this 350-page book; no Greek. Includes an essay on Sappho and a concordance.
The Sappho Companion, Margaret Reynolds. 30 fragments; Greek included. Voluminous essay by Margaret Reynolds. 6-page bibliography. 12-page index. 7-page list of extracts.
Sappho to Valéry: Poems in Translation, John Frederick Nims. 4 of the longer fragments; Greek included. Translations of many other poets.

Fragment 16

Compare these translations of the first (of five) stanzas in Fragment 16. [A fragment number is shown only where a translator used a different number from that used by Anne Carson and others.]

Sequence shows the most recent first.

Anne Carson in If Not, Winter (2002) translates the first stanza as:


   Some men say an army of horse and some men say an army on foot
   and some men say an army of ships is the more beautiful thing
   on the black earth. But I say it is
          what you love.

Paul Roche translates this as in his poem 55, in his The Love Songs of Sappho (1998) [p. 83]:


   A cavalry corps, a column of men,
   A flotilla in line, is the finest thing
   In this rich world to see -- for some ... but for me   
        It's the person you love.

Margaret Williamson (1995) make interesting use of square brackets to echo the losses from the original due to papyrus damage, giving this start, from The Sappho Companion (2000) by Margaret Reynolds [p. 37]:


   [So]me an army on horseback, some an army on foot
   and some say a fleet of ship i[s] the loveliest sight   
   o[n this] da[r]k earth; but I say it is what-
   ever you desire.

David Constantine (1983) from The Sappho Companion (2000) by Margaret Reynolds [p. 36]:


   Some say nothing on earth excels in beauty
   Fighting men, and call incomparable the lines   
   Of horse or foot or ship. Let us say rather
   Best is what one loves.

Guy Davenport in 7 Greeks (1976-1995) translates this as in his poem 25, with first stanza :


   A company of horsemen or of infantry
   Or a fleet of ships, some say,
   Is the black earth's finest sight,
   But to me it is what you love.

John Frederick Nims translates Sappho's first stanza as Fragment 16 in his Sappho to Valéry: Poems in Translation (1971) [p. 289]:


   Some prefer a glory of horsemen; warships,
   some; a phalanx, some -- as the dark horizon's
   finest sight. No -- listen to me! -- the best is
        what you're in love with.

Willis Barnstone translates Sappho's first stanza in his poem 124 thus, in his Sappho and the Greek Lyric Poets (1962, 1988) [p. 66]:


   Some say cavalry and others claim
   infantry or a fleet of long oars
   is the supreme sight on the black earth.   
   I say it is
   
   the one you love.

7 Greeks (1976-1995) translated with an essay by Guy Davenport.

Sections:

If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho (2002) translated with an essay by Anne Carson.

Sections:

The Love Songs of Sappho (1998) translated with an essay by Paul Roche.

Sections:

Sappho and the Greek Lyric Poets (1962, 1988) translated by Willis Barnstone.

The Sappho Companion (2000) edited and introduced by Margaret Reynolds.

Sections:

  1. The fragments of Sappho.

    Thirty of the 213 then-known fragments selected "to give some indication of the flavour of Sappho's work, her themes and subjects, as well as some sense of the world for which the poetry was created". The best things about this sections are:

  2. The Tenth Muse.

    The development of Sappho's reputation among Greeks and then Romans.

  3. The Learned Lady.

    The disappearance of Sappho's poetry just before the start of the European Dark Ages. The glimpses of Sappho beginning in the Renaissance.

  4. Nymphs and Satyrs.

    17th-century Sappho studies in France and Britain.

  5. Wanton Sapphoics

    18th-century Sappho studies in France and Britain. Includes Alexander Pope.

  6. The Sapphic Sublime.

    High opinions of Sappho become expressed more widely, including by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

  7. Hellenism and Heroes.

  8. The Lady with the Lyre.

    Includes the direction for an play, an 18th-century ballet, and a 19th-century drama, all about Sappho.

  9. Daughter of de Sade.

  10. The New Woman.

  11. Return to Mytilene.

  12. Modernist Sappho.

  13. Sapphistories.

  14. Swingers and Sisters.

  15. Fragments.

Sappho to Valéry: Poems in Translation (1971) translated by John Frederick Nims.

Time Line.

630 B.C.E.
Approximate date of birth of Sappho (ψαπφο) on the Greek island of Lesbos.

1879
Manuscripts of 8th century C.E. discovered in the oasis of Fayum in the Nile Valley. [Roche's The Love Songs of Sappho.]

1895
Bernard Grenfell and Arthur Hunt (from Queen's College, Oxford) study rubbish remnants at Oxyrhynchus (now Behnasa), a small town 120 miles south of Cairo, Egypt. The salvaged papyrus fragments included portions of poems by Sappho, including the astonishing Fragment 16: 'Some say a host of cavalry'. [Reynolds' The Sappho Companion.]

1897-1906
Extensive unearthings by Professors Bernard Grenfell and Arthur Hunt at Aphroditopolis and Oxyrhynchus; finds include many strips of papyrus rolls "used as a kind of papier-mâché to make the cartonage of coffins, or used as a lining for mummies, or wadded into the carcasses of crocodiles and other stuffed, sacred animals". [Roche's The Love Songs of Sappho.]

1955
Poetarium Lesbiorum Fragmenta translated by Edgar Lobel and Denys Page. Their numbering scheme later used (essentially) by Voigt.

1958
Sappho by Mary Barnard.

1962
First version of Sappho and the Greek Lyric Poets translated by Willis Barnstone.

1971
Sappho et Alcaeus: Fragmenta translated into French by Eva-Maria Voigt. The numbering (1-168B) of the fragments in her edition is followed by others, particularly Margaret Reynolds for The Sappho Companion.

1982
Greek Lyric 1: Sappho and Alcaeus edited by David A. Campbell (Loeb Classical Library). His numbering scheme is the same (essentially) as that of both Lobel and Page and later Voigt.

1998
The Love Songs of Sappho, translated by Paul Roche; 12-page introduction by Page DuBois.

2000
The Sappho Companion, edited and introduced by Margaret Reynolds.

2001
First USA edition of The Sappho Companion, edited and introduced by Margaret Reynolds.

2002
Translation by Anne Carson of the fragments of Sappho: If Not Winter.

Links and Books.

Links and Books.


Site Meter [Thanks for visiting.]