A portrait of Sappho, among others (In Our Time) Radio podcast
Sappho was very famous and highly appreciated in antiquity: more than a hundred ancient authors cited her namer or spoke about her work in their writings. In a renowned epigram long attributed to Plato, the author calls her the tenth Muse, an expression that will later stick to her skin. There are, however, few traces left of her complete oeuvre: a single poem has come down to us in its entirety: Hymn to Aphrodite, the others are lacunary (they’re often composed of papyrus fragments or quotations, sometimes limited to only one sentence). Her favorite theme seemed to be Passionate Love. In view of what we know about Sappho since the Renaissance, we can say that her poetry was lyrical. Note this remark of Solon who after hearing one of her poems said: “My desire is to learn it and then die”. It should also be remembered that, in the common language of ancient greece, the “poet” refered to Homer and the “poetess” designated Sappho. This radio show conducted by Melvyn Bragg Tuesday 9 Apr 2015 returns to the life and work of the poetess, with respect and a slight touch of iconoclasty. The guests are Edith Hall, Professor of Classics at King’s College in London, Margaret Reynolds, Professor of English at Queen Mary in University of London and Dirk Obbink, Professor of Papyrology and Greek Literature at the University of Oxford, Fellow and tutor at Christ Church College in Oxford.