Sappho: The Translations (reprised)

Sappho: The Translations (reprised)

The Lesbian Historic Motif Podcast – Episode 27c

Due to scheduling issues, I’m reprising a pair of shows I aired two years ago about Sappho and her poetry. I hope you enjoy either revisiting this material or discovering it for the first time.

In this episode we talk about

  • How much poetry did Sappho write, and how much survives? Why was it lost, and why were the bits we have preserved?
  • What was the changing image of Sappho from the middle ages through the 19th century? How did people reconcile their admiration for Sappho’s poetry and their disapproval of homosexuality?
  • Who translated Sappho’s works and how did their opinions of her affect those translations?

The show will include recitations of the following poems:

  • Ode to Aphrodite & Fragment #31: Jane McIntosh Snyder from Lesbian Desire in the Lyrics of Sappho (20th century)
  • “On a Lady Named Beloved” inspired by fragment #31: Anne de Rohan (1617), translated from the French
  • Fragment #31: John Hall (1652)
  • Fragment #31: Joseph Addison (1735)
  • Ode to Aphrodite & Fragment #31: Abrose Philips (1748)
  • “Eleanore” inspired by Fragment #31: Lord Tennyson (1832)
  • Fragment #31 & “Imitation of Sappho” inspired by Fragment #31: Mary Hewitt (1845)

More info

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The poetic texts are from the following publications:

  • Addison, Joseph. 1735. The Works of Anacreon, Translated into English Verse, with Notes Explanatory and Poetical. To which are added the Odes, Fragments, and Epigrams of Sappho. London.
  • Castle, Terry (ed). 2003. The Literature of Lesbianism: A Historical Anthology from Ariosto to Stonewall. Columbia University Press, New York. ISBN 0-231-12510-0
  • Hall, John. 1652. Sappho’s On the Sublime.
  • Snyder, Jane. 1997. Lesbian Desire in the Lyrics of Sappho. New York: Columbia University Press.
  • Wharton, Henry Thornton. 1887. Sappho: Memoir, Text, Selected Renderings, and a Literal Translation. London.

This topic is discussed in one or more entries of the Lesbian Historic Motif Project here:

If you have questions or comments about the LHMP or these podcasts, send them to:

A transcript of this podcast is available here.

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