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Sappho, fragments 3-15 (Bergk), from Wharton's Sappho, including fragments on The moon and planets, A garden scene, and more, with translations by several hands, and contexts by Wharton.


The stars about the fair moon in their turn hide their bright face when she at about her full lights up all earth with silver.
H.T. Wharton
Planets, that around the beauteous moon
Attendant wait, cast into shade
       Their ineffectual lustre, soon
As she, in full-orbed majesty arrayed,
       Her silver radiance pours
       Upon this world of ours.
John Hermann Merivale
       The stars around the lovely moon
       Their radiant visage hide as soon
       As she, full-orbed, appears to sight,
Flooding the earth with her silvery light.
The stars about the lovely moon
Fade back and vanish very soon,
When, round and full, her silver face
Swims into sight, and lights all space.
Edwin Arnold, 1869.
Stars that shine around the refulgent full moon
Pale, and hide their glory of lesser lustre
When she pours her silvery plenilunar
        Light on the orbed earth.
J. A. Symonds, 1883
        'As the stars draw back their shining faces when they surround the fair moon in her silver fulness.'
F. T. Palgrave

Quoted by Eustathius of Thessalonica, late in the twelfth century, to illustrate the simile in the Iliad, viii. 551:--

        As when in heaven the stars about the moon
        Look beautiful.

Julian, about 350 A.D., says Sappho applied the epithet silver to the moon; wherefore Blomfield suggested its position here.


Fr. 4

And round about the [breeze] murmurs cool through apple-boughs, and slumber streams from quivering leaves.
H.T. Wharton
Through orchard-plots with fragrance crowned
        The clear cold fountain murmuring flows;
And forest leaves with rustling sound
       Invite to soft repose.
John Hermann Merivale
All around through branches of apple-orchards
Cool streams call, while down from the leaves
              Slumber distilleth.
J. A. Symonds, 1883

Professor F. T. Palgrave says:--

'We have three lines on a garden scene full of the heat and sleep of the fortunate South:--

'"Round about the cool water thrills through the apple-branches, and sleep flows down upon us in the rustling leaves."

'If there were any authority,' he adds in a note, 'I should like to translate "through the troughs of apple-wood." That Eastern mode of garden irrigation gives a much more defined, and hence a more Sappho-like, image than "through the boughs."'

From the sound of cool waters heard through
        the green boughs
                Of the fruit-bearing trees,
                And the rustling breeze,
Deep sleep, as a trance, down over me flows.
Frederick Tennyson

Cited by Hermogenes, about 170 A.D., as an example of simple style, and to show the pleasure given by description. The fragment describes the gardens of the nymphs, which Demetrius, about 150 A.D., says were sung by Sappho. Cf. Theocritus, Idyl vii. 135: 'High above our heads waved many a poplar, many an elm-tree, while close at hand the sacred water from the Nymph's own cave welled forth with murmurs musical' (A. Lang). And Ovid, Heroïd., xv. 157--

A spring there is whose silver waters show, etc.--

Fr. 5

        Come, goddess of Cyprus, and in golden cups serve nectar delicately mixed with delights.
H. T. Wharton
            Come, Venus, come
Hither with thy golden cup,
        Where nectar-floated flowerets swim.
Fill, fill the goblet up;
        These laughing lips shall kiss the brim,--
            Come, Venus, come!
Anonymous (Edin. Rev., 1832).
                  Kupris, hither
Come, and pour from goblets of gold the nectar
Mixed for love's and pleasure's delight with
              Joys of the banquet.
J. A. Symonds, 1883.

Athenaeus; a native of Naucratis, who flourished about 230 A.D., quotes these verses as an example of the poets' custom of invoking Aphrodite in their pledges. Applying them to himself and his fellow-guests, he adds the words toutoisi tois hetarois emois ge kai sois. Some scholars believe that Sappho actually wrote--

taisde tais emais etaraisi kai sais,
For these my companions and thine.

Aphrodite was called Cypris, 'the Cyprian,' because it was mythologically believed that when she rose from the sea she was first received as a goddess on the shore of Cyprus (Homeric Hymns, vi.). Sappho seems to be here figuratively referring to the nectar of love.


Fr. 6

Or Cyprus and Paphos, or Panormus [holds] thee.
H. T. Wharton
If thee Cyprus, or Paphos, or Panormos.
J. A. Symonds

From Strabo, about 19 A.D. Panormus (Palermo) in Sicily was not founded till after Sappho's time, but it was a common name, and all seaports were under the special protection of Aphrodite.


Frs. 7, 8

But for thee will I [lead] to the altar [the offspring] of a white goat ... and add a libation for thee.
H. T. Wharton

Adduced by Apollonius of Alexandria, about 140 A.D., to illustrate similarities in dialects. The fragment is probably part of an ode describing a sacrifice offered to Aphrodite.

Fr. 9

This lot may I win, golden-crowned Aphrodite.
H. T. Wharton

From Apollonius, to show how adverbs give an idea of prayer.


Fr. 10

Who gave me their gifts and made me honoured.
H.T. Wharton

From Apollonius, to illustrate the Aeolic dialect. Bergk thinks this fragment had some connection with fr. 68, and perhaps with fr. 32. It seems to refer to the Muses.


Fr. 11

This will I now sing deftly to please my girlfriends.
H.T. Wharton

Quoted by Athenaeus to prove that freeborn women and maidens often called their girl associates and friends Hetaerae without any idea of reproach.


Fr. 12

For they whom I benefit injure me most.
H.T. Wharton

From the Etymologicum Magnum, a dictionary which was compiled about the tenth century A.D.

Fr. 13

But that which one desires I ...
H.T. Wharton

From Apollonius, to illustrate the use of the verb eraô. Bergk now reads eratai as formerly, on the analogy of diakêtai and dynamai in the Fayum fragments.


Fr. 14

To you, fair maids, my mind changes not.
H.T. Wharton

From Apollonius, to show the Aeolic use of hummin for humin, 'to you.'


Fr. 15

And this I feel in myself.
H.T. Wharton

From Apollonius, to show Aeolic accentuation.

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