Sappho

Commonly termed ‘Sappho’, portrait found in Pompeii

What is beautiful is good, and who is good will soon be beautiful.

There is little biographical information known about Sappho for certain. However, history documents her as being an Archaic Greek poet who originated from the island of Lesbos. Her poetic works resulted in her being hailed as one of the greatest lyric poets of her time, leaving her with the affectionate nicknames “Tenth Muse” and “The Poetess”.

The majority of Sappho’s poetry was lost before it could be properly documented, so it now only exists – and is published – in fragments and short collections. This is especially tragic alongside historical reports that during her time writing she was particularly prolific, and likely wrote over 10,000 lines of poetry (in various forms and structures, too).

Alongside her contributions to poetry, her documentation of love and desire felt by women for women has lent Sappho an iconic status outside of just the literary community. In fact, the English words ‘sapphic’ and ‘lesbian’ are thought of as having derived from Sappho’s name and her home island.

In celebration of world poetry, we highly recommend spending some time with Sappho this week.