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Wharton's Sappho, fragments 51-67 (Bergk). Includes A wedding scene, a lonely night, dying Adonis, and more.

Fr. 51

And there the bowl of ambrosia was mixed, and Hermes took the ladle to pour out for the gods; and then they all held goblets, and made libation, and wished the bridegroom all good luck.
H. T. Wharton

The first two lines are quoted by Athenaeus to show that in Sappho Hermes was cupbearer to the gods; and in another place he quotes the rest to illustrate her mention of carchêsia, cups narrow in the middle, with handles reaching from the top to the bottom. Lachmann first joined the two fragments. The verses appear to belong to the Epithalamia.


Fr. 52

The moon has set, and the Pleiades; it is midnight, the time is going by, and I sleep alone.
H. T. Wharton
The silver moon is set;
        The Pleiades are gone;
Half the long night is spent, and yet
        I lie alone.
J. H. Merivale.
The moon hath left the sky;
        Lost is the Pleiads' light;
        It is midnight
And time slips by;
But on my couch alone I lie.
J. A. Symonds, 1883.

Quoted by Hephaestion as an example of metre.


Fr. 53

The moon rose full, and the women stood as though around an altar.
H. T. Wharton

Quoted by Hephaestion as an example of Praxilleian verses, i.e. such as the Sicyonian poetess Praxilla (about B.C. 450) wrote in the metre known as the Ionic a majore trimeter brachycatalectic. Blass thinks that the lines are part of the same poem as that to which the succeeding fragment belongs.


Fr. 54

Thus at times with tender feet the Cretan women dance in measure round the fair altar, trampling the fine soft bloom of the grass.
H. T. Wharton

Mr. Moreton J. Walhouse thus combines the previous fragment with this:--

Then, as the broad moon rose on high,
The maidens stood the altar nigh;
        And some in graceful measure
            The well-loved spot danced round,
        With lightsome footsteps treading
            The soft and grassy ground.

Quoted by Hephaestion as an example of metre, vv. 1 and 2 in one place and v. 3 in another; Bergk says Santen first joined them.


Fr. 55

Then delicately in thick robe I sprang.
H. T. Wharton

From Herodian, as an illustration of the Aeolic dialect. Bergk attributes this to Sappho, but Cramer and others think that Alcaeus wrote the line.


Fr. 56

Leda they say once found an egg hidden under hyacinth-blossoms.
H. T. Wharton

From the Etymologicum Magnum, Athenaeus, and others. Bergk thinks fr. 112 may be continuous with this, since Athenaeus quotes fr. 112 after fr. 56. It is uncertain what flower the Greeks meant by 'hyacinth'; it probably had nothing in common with our hyacinth, and it seems to have comprised several flowers, especially the iris, gladiolus, and larkspur.


Fr. 57

And dark-eyed Sleep, child of night.
H. T. Wharton

From the Etymologicum Magnum, to show that the first letter of aôros = hôros, 'sleep,' was redundant.


Fr. 57a

Aphrodite's handmaid bright as gold.
H. T. Wharton

Philodemus, about 60 B.C., in a MS. discovered at Herculaneum, says that Sappho thus addresses Peithô, Persuasion. The MS. is, however, defective, and Gomperz, the editor, thinks from the context that Hecate is here referred to. Cf. frr. 132, 125. (Bergk formerly numbered this fr. 141.)


Fr. 58

Andromeda has a fair requital.
H. T. Wharton

Quoted by Hephaestion together with the following, although the lines are obviously out of different odes. Probably each fragment is the first line of separate poems.


Fr. 59

Sappho, why [celebrate] blissful Aphrodite?
H. T. Wharton


Fr. 60

Come now, delicate Graces and fair-haired Muses.
H. T. Wharton
Come hither, fair-haired Muses, tender Graces,
        Come hither to our home.
Frederick Tennyson

Quoted by Hephaestion, Attilius Fortunatianus (about the fifth century A,D.), and Servius, as an example of Sappho's choriambic tetrameters.


Fr. 61

A sweet-voiced maiden.
H. T. Wharton

From Attilius Fortunatianus.


Fr. 62

Delicate Adonis is dying, Cytherea; what shall we do? Beat your breasts, maidens, and rend your tunics.
H. T. Wharton

Quoted by Hephaestion, and presumed to be Sappho's from a passage in Pausanias, where he says she learnt the name of the mythological personage Oetolinus (as if oitos Linou, 'the death of Linus'), from the poems of Pamphos, a mythical poet of Attica earlier than Homer, and so to her Adonis was just like Oetolinus. The Linus-song was a very ancient dirge or lamentation, of which a version (or rather a late rendering, apparently Alexandrian) has been preserved by a Scholiast on Homer (Iliad, xviii. 569), running thus: 'O Linus, honoured by all the gods, for to thee first they gave to sing a song to men in clear sweet sounds; Phoebus in envy slew thee, but the Muses lament thee.' A charming example of what the Linus-song was in the third century B.C., remains for us in Bion's Lament for Adonis.

The dirge was chiefly sung by the Greek peasants at vintage-time, and so may have arisen from a mythical personification of Apollo, as the burning sun of summer suddenly slaying the life and bloom of nature. It is said to have been of Phoenician origin, and to have derived its name from the words ai le nu, 'woe is us,' which may have been the burden of the song. The word ailinos, so frequent a refrain in the mournful choral odes of the Greek tragic poets, seems to indicate that the personality of Linus was the invention of a time when the meaning of the burden had been forgotten.


Fr. 63

Ah for Adonis!
H. T. Wharton

From Marius Plotius, about 600 A.D. It seems to be the refrain of the ode to Adonis. Cf. fr. 108.

Ah for Adonis! So
The virgins cry in woe:
Ah, for the spring, the spring,
And all fleet blossoming.
Michael Field, 1889.


Fr. 64

Coming from heaven wearing a purple mantle.
H. T. Wharton
From heaven he came,
And round him the red chlamys burned like flame.
J. A. Symonds
He came from heaven in purple mantle clad.
Frederick Tennyson

Quoted by Pollux, about 180 A.D., who says that Sappho, in her ode to Eros, out of which this verse probably came, was the first to use the word chlamys, a short mantle fastened by a brooch on the right shoulder, so as to hang in a curve across the body.


Fr. 65

Come, rosy-armed pure Graces, daughters of Zeus.
H. T. Wharton

Theocritus' Idyl 28, On a Distaff, according to the argument prefixed to it, was written in the dialect and metre of this fragment. And Philostratus, about 220 A.D., says 'Sappho loves the rose, and always crowns it with some praise, likening to it the beauty of her maidens; she likens it also to the arms of the Graces, when she describes their elbows bare.' Cf. fr. 146.


Fr. 66

But Ares says he would drag Hephaestus by force.
H. T. Wharton

From Priscian, late in the fifth century A.D.


Fr. 67

Many thousand cups thou drainest.
H. T. Wharton

Quoted by Athenaeus when descanting on drinking-cups.

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