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Sappho, fragments 121-170 (Bergk), the miscellaneous fragments, from Wharton's Sappho. Stray words and fragments on Death and the gods, The Rose, and more, with translations by several hands, and contexts by Wharton.


Fr. 121

Athenaeus says:--

'It is something natural that people who fancy themselves beautiful and elegant should be fond of flowers; on which account the companions of Persephone are represented as gathering flowers. And Sappho says she saw--

anthe' amergousan paid' agan hapalan.
'A maiden full tender plucking flowers.'


Frs. 122, 123

Poly paktidos adumelestera, chrusô chrusotera.
Far sweeter of tone than harp, more golden than gold.

Quoted by Demetrius as an example of hyperbolic phrase. A commentator on Hermogenes the rhetorician says: 'These things basely flatter the ear, like the erotic phrases which Anacreon and Sappho use, galaktos leukotera, whiter than milk, hydatos hapalôtera, fresher than water, pêktidôn emmelestera, more musical than the harp, hippou gaurotera, more skittish than a horse, rhodôn habrotera, more delicate than the rose, himatiou heanou malakôtera, softer than a fine robe, chrusou timiôtera, more precious than gold.'


Fr. 124

Demetrius says:--

'Wherefore also Sappho is eloquent and sweet when she sings of Beauty, and of Love and Spring and the Kingfisher; and every beautiful expression is woven into her poetry, besides what she herself invented.'


Fr. 125

Maximus Tyrius says:--

'Diotima says that Love flourishes in prosperity, but dies in adversity; a sentiment which Sappho comprehends when she calls Love glukipikros, bitter-sweet [cf. fr. 40] and algesidôros, giver of pain. Socrates calls Love the wizard, Sappho mythoplokos, the weaver of fictions.'


Fr. 126

To melêma toumon.
My darling.

Quoted by Julian, and by Theodorus Hyrtacenus in the twelfth century A.D., as of 'the wise Sappho.' Bergk says Sappho would have written to melêma hômon in her own dialect.


Fr. 127

Aristides says:--

'To ganos, the brightress, standing over the whole city, hou diaphtheiron tas opseis, not destroying the sight, as Sappho says, but developing at once and crowning and watering with cheerfulness; in no way huakinthinô anthei homoion, like a hyacinth-flower, but such as earth and sun never yet showed to men.'


Fr. 128

Pollux writes:--

'Anacreon . . . says they are crowned also with dill, as both Sappho [cf. fr. 78] and Alcaeus say; though these also say selinois, with parsely.'


Fr. 129

Philostratus says:--

'Thus contend [the maidens] rhodopêchis kai likôpides kai kalliparêoi kai meliphônoi, with rosy arms and glancing eyes and fair cheeks and honeyed voices--this indeed is Sappho's sweet salutation.'

And Aristaenetus:--

'Before the porch the most musical and meilichophônoi, soft-voiced, of the maidens sang the hymeneal song; this indeed is Sappho's sweetest utterance.'

Antipater of Sidon, Anthol. Pal. ix. 66, and others, call Sappho sweet-voiced.


Fr. 130

Libanius the rhetorician, about the fourth century A.D., says:--

'If therefore nought prevented Sappho the Lesbian from praying nukta autê genesthai diplasian, that the night might be doubled for her, let me also ask for something similar. Time, father of year and months, stretch out this very year for us as far as may be, as, when Herakles was born, thou didst prolong the night.'

Bergk thinks that Sappho probably prayed for nukta triplasian, a night thrice as long as an ordinary night, in reference to the myth of Jupiter and Alcmene, the mother of Hercules.


Fr. 131

Strabo says:--

'A hundred furlongs further (from Elaea, a city in Aeolis) is Cané, the promontory opposite to Lectum, and forming the Gulf of Adramyttium, of which the Elaïtic Gulf is a part. Canae is a small city of the Locrians of Cynus, over against the most southerly extremity of Lesbos, situated in the Canaean territory, which extends to Arginusae and the overhanging cliff which some call Aega, as if "a goat," but the second syllable should be pronounced long, Aegâ, like akta and archa, for this was the name of the whole mountain which at present is called Cané or Canae . . . and the promontory itself seems afterwards to have been called Aega, as Sappho says, the rest Canê or Canae.'


Fr. 132

The Scholiast on Apollonius Rhodius says:--

'Apollonius calls Love the son of Aphrodite, Sappho of Earth and Heaven.'

But the Argument prefixed to Theocritus, Idyl xiii., says:--

'Sappho called Love the child of Aphrodite and heaven.'

And Pausanias, about 180 A.D., says:--

'On Love Sappho the Lesbian sang many things which do not agree with one another. Cf. fr. 74.


Fr. 133

Himerius says:--

'Thou art, I think, an evening-star, of all stars the fairest: this is Sappho's song to Hesperus.' And again: 'Now thou didst appear like that fairest of all stars; for the Athenians call thee Hesperus.'

Bergk thinks Sappho's line ran thus:--

Asterôn pantôn ho kalistos ...

Of all stars the fairest.

Elsewhere Himerius refers to what seems an imitation of Sappho, and says: 'If an ode had been wanted, I should have given him such an ode as this (Web note: Greek omitted)--

Bride teeming with rosy loves, bride, fairest image of the goddess of Paphos, go to the couch, go to the bed, softly sporting, sweet to the bridegroom. May Hesperus lead thee rejoicing, honouring Hera of the silver throne, goddess of marriage.
Bride, in whose breast haunt rosy loves!
Bride, fairest of the Paphian groves!
Hence, to thy marriage rise, and go!
Hence, to thy bed, where thou shalt show
With honeyed play thy wedded charms,
Thy sweetness in the bridegroom's arms!
Let Hesper lead thee forth, a wife,
Willing and worshipping for life,
The silver-throned, the wedlock dame,
Queen Hera, wanton without shame!
J. A. SYMONDS, 1883.

Fr. 134

The Scholiast on Apollonius Rhodius says:--

'The story of the love of Selene is told by Sappho, and by Nicander in the second book of his Europa; and it is said that Selene came to Endymion in the same cave' (on Mount Latmus in Caria).


Fr. 135

The Scholiast on Hesiod, Op. et D., 74, says:--

'Sappho calls Persuasion Aphroditês thugatera, Daughter of Aphrodite.'

Cf. Fr. 141.


Fr. 136

Maximus Tyrius says:--

'Socrates blames Xanthippe for lamenting his death, as Sappho blames her daughter (Web note: Greek omitted)--
For lamentation may not be in a poet's house:
such things befit not us.'

In the home of the Muses 'tis bootless to mourn.
Frederick Tennyson


Fr. 137

Aristotle, in his Rhetoric, ii. 23, writes (Web note: Greek omitted):--

[Death is evil; the Gods have so judged: had it been good, they would die.]

Gregory, commenting on Hermogenes, also quotes the same saying (Web note: Greek omitted):--

Several attempts have been made to restore these words to a metrical form, and this of Hartung's appears to be the simplest:--

To thnaskein kakon; houtô kekrikasi theoi
ethnaskon gar an eiper kalon hên tode.

Death is evil; the Gods have so judged: had it been good, they would die.

The preceding fragment (136) seems to have formed part of the same ode as the present. Perhaps it was this ode, which Sappho sent to her daughter forbidding her to lament her mother's death, that Solon is said to have so highly praised. The story is quoted from Aelian by Stobaeus thus: 'Solon the Athenian [who died about 558 B.C.], son of Execestides, on his nephew's singing an ode of Sappho's over their wine, was pleased with it, and bade the boy teach it him; and when some one asked why he took the trouble, he said (Greek omitted), 'That I may not die before I have learned it.'


Fr. 138

Athenaeus says:--

'Naucratis has produced some celebrated courtesans of exceeding beauty; as Doricha, who was beloved by Charaxus, brother of the beautiful Sappho, when he went to Naucratis on business, and whom she accuses in her poetry of having robbed him of much. Herodotus calls her Rhodopis, not knowing that Rhodopis was different from the Doricha who dedicated the famous spits at Delphi.'

Herodotus, about 440 B.C., said:--

'Rhodopis came to Egypt with Xanthes of Samos; and having come to make money, she was ransomed for a large sum by Charaxus of Mitylene, son of Scamandronymus and brother of Sappho the poetess. Thus Rhodopis was made free, and continued in Egypt, and being very lovely acquired great riches for a Rhodopis, though no way sufficient to erect such a pyramid [as Mycerinus'] with. For as any one who wishes may to this day see the tenth of her wealth, there is no need to attribute any great wealth to her. For Rhodopis was desirous of leaving a monument to herself in Greece, and having had such a work made as no one ever yet devised and dedicated in a temple, to offer it at Delphi as a memorial of herself: having therefore made from the tenth of her wealth a great number of iron spits for roasting oxen, as far as the tenth allowed, she sent them to Delphi; and they are still piled up behind the altar which the Chians dedicated, and opposite the temple itself. The courtesans of Naucratis are generally very lovely: for in the first place this one, of whom this account is given, became so famous that all the Greeks became familiar with the name Rhodopis; and in the next place, after her another whose name was Archidice became celebrated throughout Greece, though less talked about than the former. As for Charaxus, after ransoming Rhodopis he returned to Mitylene, where Sappho ridiculed him bitterly in an ode.'

And Strabo:--

' It is said that the tomb of the courtesan was erected by her lovers: Sappho the lyric poet calls her Doricha. She was beloved by Sappho's brother Charaxus, who traded to the port of Naucratis with Lesbian wine. Others call her Rhodopis.'

And another writer (Appendix Prov., iv. 51) says:--

'The beautiful courtesan Rhodopis, whom Sappho and Herodotus commemorate, was of Naucratis in Egypt.'



Athenaeus says:--

' The beautiful Sappho in several places celebrates her brother, Larichus, as cup-bearer to the Mitylenaeans in the town-hall.'

The Scholiast on the Iliad, xx. 234, says:--

'It was the custom, as Sappho also says, for well-born and beautiful youths to pour out wine.

Cf. fr. 5.


Fr. 140

Palaephatus, probably an Alexandrian Greek, says:--

'Phaon gained his livelihood by a boat and the sea; the sea was crossed by a ferry; and no complaint was made by any one, since he was just, and only took from those who had means. He was a wonder among the Lesbians for his character. The goddess--they call Aphrodite "the goddess"--commends the man, and having put on the appearance of a woman now grown old, asks Phaon about sailing; he was swift to wait on her and carry her across and demand nothing. What thereupon does the goddess do? They say she transformed the man and restored him to youth and beauty. This is that Phaon, her love for whom Sappho several times made into a song.'

The story is repeated by many writers. Cf. fr. 29.


Fr. 141

[Fr. 141 now appears as fr. 57 A, q.v.]


Fr. 142

Pausanias says--

'Yet that gold does not contract rust the Lesbian poetess is a witness, and gold itself shows it.'

And the Scholiast on Pindar, Pyth., iv. 407 :--

'But gold is indestructible; and so says Sappho, (Greek omitted) --

Gold is son of Zeus, no moth nor worm devours it.

Sappho's own phrase is lost.


Fr. 143

Aulus Gellius, about 160 A.D., writes:--

'Homer says Niobe had six sons and six daughters, Euripides seven of each, Sappho nine, Bacchylides and Pindar ten.'

Cf. Fr. 31, the only line extant from the ode here referred to.


Fr. 144

Servius, commenting on Vergil, Aeneid, vi, 21, says:--

'Some would have it believed that Theseus rescued along with himself seven boys and seven maidens, as Plato says in his Phaedo, and Sappho in her lyrics, and Bacchylides in his dithyrambics, and Euripides in his Hercules.'

No such passage from Sappho has been preserved.


Fr. 145

Servius, commenting on Vergil, Eclog. vi. 42, says:--

'Prometheus, son of Iapetus and Clymene, after he had created man, is said to have ascended to heaven by help of Minerva, and having applied a small torch [or perhaps 'wand'] to the sun's wheel, he stole fire and showed it to men. The Gods being angered hereby sent two evils upon the earth, fevers and disease [the text here is obviously corrupt, it ought to be 'women and disease' or 'fevers and women'], as Sappho and Hesiod tell."


Fr. 146

Philostratus says:--

'Sappho loves the Rose, and always crowns it with some praise, likening beautiful maidens to it.'

This remark seems to have led some of the earlier collectors of Sappho's fragments to include the 'pleasing song in commendation of the Rose' quoted by Achilles Tatius in his love-story Clitophon and Leucippe, but there is no reason to attribute it to Sappho. Mrs. E. B. Browning thus translated it:--

If Zeus chose us a king of the flowers in his mirth,
He would call to the Rose and would royally crown it,
For the Rose, ho, the Rose, is the grace of the earth,
Is the light of the plants that are growing upon it.

For the Rose, ho, the Rose, is the eye of the flowers,
Is the blush of the meadows that feel themselves fair--
Is the lightning of beauty that strikes through the bowers
On pale lovers who sit in the glow unaware.

Ho, the Rose breathes of love! Ho, the Rose lifts the cup
To the red lips of Cypris invoked for a guest!
Ho, the Rose, having curled its sweet leaves for the world,
Takes delight in the motion its petals keep up,
As they laugh to the wind as it laughs from the west!

And Mr. J. A. Symonds (1883):--


If Zeus had willed it so
That o'er the flowers one flower should reign a queen,
I know, ah well I know
The rose, the rose, that royal flower had been!
She is of earth the gem,
Of flowers the diadem;
And with her flush
The meadows blush;
Nay, she is beauty's self that brightens
In Summer, when the warm air lightens!
Her breath's the breath of Love,
Wherewith he lures the dove
Of the fair Cyprian queen;
Her petals are a screen
Of pink and quivering green,
For Cupid when he sleeps,
Or for mild Zephyrus, who laughs and weeps.

'Sappho loves flowers with a personal sympathy,' writes Professor F. T. Palgrave. "Cretan girls," she says, "with their soft feet dancing lay flat the tender bloom of the -grass" [fr. 54]: she feels for the hyacinth "which shepherds on the mountain tread under foot, and the purple flower is on the ground" [fr. 94]: she pities the wood-doves (apparently) as their "life grows cold and their wings fall" before the archer' [fr. 16].


Fr. 147

Himerius says:--

'These gifts of yours must now be likened to those of the leader of the Muses himself, as Sappho and Pindar, in an ode, adorn him with golden hair and lyres, and attend him with a team of swans to Helicon while he dances with Muses and Graces; or as poets inspired by the Muses crown the Bacchanal (for thus the lyre calls him, meaning Dionysos), when Spring has just flashed out for the first time, with Spring flowers and ivy-clusters, and lead him, now to the topmost heights of Caucasus and vales of Lydia, now to the cliffs of Parnassus and the rock of Delphi, while he leaps and gives his female followers the note for the Evian tune.'


Fr. 148

Eustathius says:--

'There is, we see, a vagabond friendship, as Sappho would say,

kalon dêmosian, a public blessing.'

This appears to have been said against Rhodopis. Cf. fr. 138.


Fr. 149

The Lexicon Seguerianum defines--

'Akakos, one who has no experience of ill, not, one who is good-natured. So Sappho uses the word.'


Fr. 150

The Etymologicum Magnum defines--

'Amamaxus, a vine trained on long poles, and says Sappho makes the plural amamaxudes. So Choeroboscus, late in the sixth century A.D., says 'the occurrence of the genitive amamaxudos [the usual form being amamaxuos] in Sappho is strange.'


Fr. 151

The Etymologicum Magnum says of Amara, a trench for watering meadows, 'because it is raised by a water-bucket, amê being a mason's instrument'--that it is a word Sappho seems to have used; and Orion, about the fifth century A.D., also explains the word similarly, and says Sappho used it.


Fr. 152

Apollonius says:--

'And in this way metaplasms of words [i.e., tenses or cases formed from non-existent presents or nominatives] arise, like erusarmates [chariot-drawing], lita [cloths], and in Sappho to aua, Dawn.'

And the Etymologicum Magnum says:--

'We find para tên auav [during the morning] in Aeolic, for "during the day."'


Fr. 153

The Etymologicum Magnum says:--

Auôs or êôs, that is, the day; thus we read in Aeolic. Sappho has--

potnia auôs, Queen Dawn.'

The solemn Dawn.
Frederick Tennyson


Fr. 154

Athenaeus says--

'The barômos [baromos] and sarbitos [sarbitos], both of which are mentioned by Sappho and Anacreon,and the Magadis and the Triangles and the Sambucae, are all ancient instruments.'

Athenaeus in another place, apparently more correctly, gives the name of the first as barmos [barmos].

What these instruments precisely were is unknown. Cf. p. 46.


Fr. 155

Pollux says:--

'Sappho used the word beudos for a woman's dress, a kimbericon, a kind of short transparent frock.'


Fr. 156

Phrynichus the grammarian, about 180 A.D., says:--

' Sappho calls a woman's dressing-case, where she keeps her scents and such things, grutê.'


Fr. 157

Hesychius, about 370 A.D., says Sappho called Zeus Hektôr, Hector, i.e. 'holding fast.'


Fr. 158

A Parisian MS. edited by Cramer says:--

'Among the Aeolians z is used for d, as when Sappho says zapaton for diabaton, fordable.'


Fr. 159

A Scholiast on Homer quotes agagoiên, may I lead, from Sappho.


Fr. 160

Eustathius, commenting on the Iliad, quotes the grammarian Aristophanes [about 260 B.C.] as saying that Sappho calls a wind that is as if twisted up and descending, a cyclone, anemon katarê, a wind rushing from above.

Nauck would restore the epithet to verse 2 of fr. 42.


Fr. 161

Choeroboscus says:--

'Sappho makes the accusative of kindunos, danger, kindun.'

Another writer, in the Codex Marc., says:-- 'Sappho makes the accusative kinduna.'


Fr. 162

Joannes Alexandrinus, about the seventh century A.D., says:--

'The acute accent falls either on the last syllable or the last but one or the last but two, but never on the last but three; the accent of Mêdeia [Medeia the sorceress, wife of Jason] in Sappho is allowed by supposing the ei to form a diphthong.'


Fr. 163

An unknown author, in Antiatticista, says:--

'Sappho, in her second book, calls smirna, myrrh, myrra.'


Fr. 164

A treatise on grammar edited by Cramer says:--

'The genitive plural of Mousa is Môsaôn among the Laconians, Moisaôn, of the Muses, in Sappho.'


Fr. 165

Phrynichus says:--

Nitron, natron (carbonate of soda) is the form 'an Aeolian would use, such as Sappho, with a n; but,' he goes on, 'an Athenian would spell it with a l, litron."


Fr. 166

A Scholiast on Homer, Iliad, iii. 219, says:--

'Sappho said polyidridi, of much knowledge, as the dative of poluidris.'


Fr. 167

Photius, in his Lexicon, about the ninth century A.D., says:--

Thapsos is a wood with which they dye wool and hair yellow, which Sappho calls Skuthikon xylon, Scythian wood.'

And the Scholiast on Theocritus, Idyl ii. 88, says:--

'Thapsos is a kind of wood which is also called skutharion or Scythian wood, as Sappho says; and in this they dip fleeces and make them of a quince-yellow, and dye their hair yellow; among us it is called chrusoxylon, gold-wood.'

Ahrens thinks that here the Scholiast quoted Sappho, and he thus restores the verses:-- [Web note: Greek omitted]

Scythian wood, in which they dip fleeces and make them quince-coloured, and dye their hair yellow.

Thapsus may have been box-wood, but it is quite uncertain.


Fr. 168

The Etymologicum Magnum says:--

'The Aeolians say Tioisin ophthalmoisin, with what eyes . . . [using tioisi for tisi, the dative plural of tis] as Sappho does.'


Fr. 169

Orion of Thebes, the grammarian, about 450 A. D., says:--

'In Sappho chelônê, a tortoise'; which is better written cheluna, as other writers imply.


Fr. 170

Pollux says:--

'Bowls with a boss in the middle are called balaneiomphaloi, circular-bottomed, from their shape, chrusomphaloi, gold-bottomed, from the material, like Sappho's chrusastragaloi, with golden ankles.'

Some few other fragments are attributed to Sappho, but Bergk admits none as genuine. Above is to be seen every word which he considered hers. An account of some which have recently been brought to light is given on the succeeding pages. [Web note: Wharton's account of the Fayum Fragments is omitted]

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