She lived on the island of Lesbos around 600 B.C.E. She composed lyric poetry, only fragments of which survive. And she was--and is--the 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.
In a taut and lucid discussion, Williamson traces the vicissitudes and vagaries that characterize the survival of [Sappho's] work...Her careful and informative studies of individual poems produce a flesh-and-blood poet, who moves from girlhood to maturity, encompassing the ages of woman in her works.
A lucid and sensitive study. [Williamson] introduces the reader to the pleasures of Sappho's songs, and explores the problems that we face in reconstructing the culture which produced them.
Truly impressive. Sappho's Immortal Daughters will bring Sappho to life for the uninitiated and offers a number of original insights about Sappho's poems that will, no doubt, engage the most learned readers of Sappho.
Sappho's Immortal Daughters, a lucid book which assumes no specialist knowledge in the reader, sets out to recover something of the authentic Sapphic voice from the mythologizations and distortions...which have affected her reputation since antiquity...This is a persuasive book which culminates in some delicate readings of Sappho's fragmentary but resonant words.
Williamson's lucid and absorbing study successfully presents what can be known about the cultural context of Sappho's life and work. Using social, political, and literary materials that influenced and reflect Sappho's experience, the author reconstructs the atmosphere in which Sappho lived, breathed, and worked.
In a beautifully produced and illustrated book, [Williamson] traces the history of Sappho's survival, seeks to locate her within a specific cultural and historical milieu, and offers perceptive discussions of most of the major poems...This is a thoroughly worthwhile book.
Williamson...has produced a useful introduction to Sappho as a cultural artifact, aiming her book primarily at those who are not advanced students of classical literature. The book is valuable...for its summaries--all presented in relatively jargon-free, digestible form--of the major trends in the scholarly debates surrounding the figure of Sappho.
- 6 x 9 inches
- Harvard University Press
Sorry, there was an error adding the item to your shopping bag.
Sorry, your session has expired. Please refresh your browser's tab.