Greek poetess and homosexual icon Sappho, has been one of the most celebrated women in the Ancient Greek literary world.The Alexandrian’s included her on a list of nine lyric poets, a huge honour for any poet. Plato even elevated her to one of the Muses!
Little is known about Sappho’s life, it is estimated that she was born between 630-612 BC. Born into an aristocratic family, she was married to a merchant and had a daughter. Thanks to her comfortable lifestyle, she was afforded the luxury to focus on her lyrical poetry. Lyrical poetry meant that her poetry was to performed accompanied with a lyre, making her appear like a songwriter today.
Sappho’s style of writing was sensual, melodic, romantic and unique in that she wrote in the first person; an uncommon technique at the time. This lend to her having her own lyrical name, sapphic meter (more sapphic touches later). Her obvious paramours were women and yet her homoeroticism was never condemned by her contemporaries (that came much later on). Thanks to Sappho, the term sapphic was coined to describe a woman to woman romance (rather sensual really). Her trysts on the island of Lesbos gave rise to the term lesbian (yes there is an actual isle of lesbians!).
Tragically, all but a few treasured pieces of her work have survived to this day. Why so few have survived could be down censorship, lack of preservation or even natural disaster. Even with so little of her poetry surviving, Sappho is still studied and translated by many scholars all over the world. Hopefully more of her work will be unearthed so we can have a more detailed appreciation of this lost muse.