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A new poem by Sappho.
Posted by: Linda (---.lns6-c8.dsl.pol.co.uk)
Date: June 25, 2005 07:53AM

Today's Daily Telegraph reports the finding of a previously unknown poem by Sappho. Apparently there are enough fragments on different pieces of papyrus for the poem to be reconstructed.

You for the fragrant-blossomed Muses' lovely gifts
be zealous, girls, and the clear melodious lyre:
but my once tender body old age now
has seized; my hair's turned white instead of dark;
my heart's grown heavy, my knees will not support me,
that once on a time were fleet for the dance as fawns.
This state I oft bemoan; but what's to do?
Not to grow old, being human, there's no way.
Tithonus once, the tale was, rose-armed Dawn,
love-smitten, carried off to the world's end,
handsome and young then, yet in time grey age
o'ertook him, husband of immortal wife.

The translation is by Martin West of All Souls, Oxford.


Re: A new poem by Sappho.
Posted by: Hugh Clary (---.denver-03rh15rt.co.dial-access.att.net)
Date: June 25, 2005 05:30PM

Thanks for that. Very strange, though - here is the rest of the article:


A 2,600-year-old poem was published for the first time yesterday, giving the world only the fourth known work by Sappho, a woman who has given her name not just to a form of writing, but an entire lifestyle.

Heroine of feminists and homosexuals, Sappho was a sixth century BC poet from the island of Lesbos reckoned by no less a critic than Plato to be ranked as a Muse rather than a mortal writer.

Almost nothing is known of her and until yesterday the 200 or so scraps of her work that had been put together had managed to contribute only three complete poems.

The fourth work is apparently addressed to young Lesbian women and bemoans the advance of years in her own mind and body compared to their youth and beauty.

The poem was recovered from the wrappings of an Egyptian mummy, where it appears to have been soaked and used as part of the bandaging. It was identified because it matched an existing, much smaller scrap known to be by Sappho found in 1922 during excavations of a rubbish dump in the ancient Egyptian city of Oxyrhynchus. Combining the two fragments produced the rarest of gifts, a Sapphic original.

Thought to date from the first part of the third century BC, the new scrap discovered by scholars in the archives of the University of Cologne is the oldest of all remnants of her poetry.

The poem, in which Sappho addresses some of the many young girls who seem to have attended her house as a kind of artistic finishing school, has now been translated and published by Martin West, emeritus fellow of All Souls, Oxford.

He said: "She obviously had emotional relationships with women of her circle, quite possibly sexual. They seem to have had some sort of society in which they could be in each other's company quite a lot, rather cut off from men, but they were clearly able to have plenty of fun."

In his article accompanying the poem and published in the Times Literary Supplement, Dr West wrote: "The ancients, who had nine books of her poems at their disposal, were unstinting in their admiration. Some called her a tenth Muse.

"The poem is a small masterpiece: simple, concise, perfectly formed, an honest, unpretentious expression of human feeling, dignified in its restraint. It moves both by what it says and by what it leaves unspoken."


My bullshit meter is peaking I fear - has anyone seen any proof that this might be a hoax?


Re: A new poem by Sappho.
Posted by: Linda (---.lns6-c8.dsl.pol.co.uk)
Date: June 26, 2005 10:57AM

Stuff from Oxyrhynchus and stuffing from mummys is a known source of ancient texts. I think the earliest gospel mnuscripts may be from there. On the other hand, it's also where you'd naturally plant a fake. The Telegraph and TLS are both reputable newspapers, they're not the sort to start a hoax.


Re: A new poem by Sappho.
Posted by: Marian-NYC (12.166.104.---)
Date: June 27, 2005 05:59PM

Sounds like a great ancient excuse for not bringing your homework to school: "My dad used it to wrap a mummy."

----

Here's a link to Martin West's own article about it (adds not much to what's above): [www.the-tls.co.uk] />

Reuters and many prestigious newspapers have printed this without indicating that they suspect any hoax.

I hope it's true!


Re: A new poem by Sappho.
Posted by: Hugh Clary (12.73.175.---)
Date: June 28, 2005 03:15PM

Fascinating. The conjectured sections add spice to the mystery:


"[You for] the fragrant-blossomed Muses’ lovely gifts
[be zealous,] girls, [and the] clear melodious lyre:

[but my once tender] body old age now
[has seized;] my hair’s turned [white] instead of dark;

my heart’s grown heavy, my knees will not support me,
that once on a time were fleet for the dance as fawns.

This state I oft bemoan; but what’s to do?
Not to grow old, being human, there’s no way.

Tithonus once, the tale was, rose-armed Dawn,
love-smitten, carried off to the world’s end,

handsome and young then, yet in time grey age
o’ertook him, husband of immortal wife."


How do a Greek poetess' words end up in an Egyptian mummy's wrappings anyway? And which mummy, for that matter? Sappho was (circa) 7th century BC, which would have been the Late Period [www.bbc.co.uk], but her poems get archived in Egypt when Alex the Great arrives in 332? Weird.

Here is some more stuff on a lesbian, uh, link:

[www.sappho.com] />


Re: A new poem by Sappho.
Posted by: Marian-NYC (12.166.104.---)
Date: June 28, 2005 06:24PM

From that link of Hugh's:

"At one time, there were perhaps nine complete volumes of her poetry, but over the centuries, from neglect, natural disasters, and possibly some censorship by close-minded scholars, her work was lost. Late in the 19th century, however, manuscripts dating back to the eighth century AD were discovered in the Nile Valley, and some of these manuscripts proved to contained Sappho's work. Excavations that followed in ancient Egyptian refuse heaps unearthed a quantity of papyruses from the first century BC to the 10th century AD. Here, strips of papyrus--some containing her poetry--were found in number. These strips had been used to wrap mummies, stuff sacred animals, and wrap coffins. The work to piece these together and identify them has continued into the twentieth century."

SO BASICALLY, THE EGYPTIANS INVENTED RECYCLING! AND SAVED SAPPHO!


Re: A new poem by Sappho.
Posted by: David Critchley (---.proxy.aol.com)
Date: July 07, 2005 03:12PM

Martin West is a first class scholar and has a long history of involvement in the publication of this type of poetry. The story also rings true in every way. As a teacher of Greek I can say that I have not the slightest doubt that the poem is genuine.


Re: A new poem by Sappho.
Posted by: drpeternsz (---.hsd1.ca.comcast.net)
Date: July 10, 2005 07:56PM

This state I oft bemoan; but what's to do?
Not to grow old, being human, there's no way.


I would welcome this new poem, whether from Sappho of from some fraud just for the expression of this sentiment.

Peter


Re: A new poem by Sappho.
Posted by: drpeternsz (---.hsd1.ca.comcast.net)
Date: July 10, 2005 07:59PM

Even wrappings tavelled more slowly in the old days, Hugh. They probably sent it through the contemporary version of the post office.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/10/2005 07:59PM by drpeternsz.


Re: A new poem by Sappho.
Posted by: Arina (---.pppoe.mtu-net.ru)
Date: July 11, 2005 03:23AM

Hi! I speak English very bad, so I don't understand the phrase "O’ertook him, husband of immortal wife", esspecially this word: "o'ertook". Could you explain me what does it mean? Thank you.


Re: A new poem by Sappho.
Posted by: Hugh Clary (---.att.net)
Date: July 11, 2005 10:22AM

[en.wikipedia.org] />
Overtook is o'ertook, known as an elision, which is used for purposes of scansion, so the meter would read as iambic pentameter. You will count ten syllables that way, but eleven with overtook. Cheating? Yeah, maybe so.


Re: A new poem by Sappho.
Posted by: Satirical (---.nc.res.rr.com)
Date: July 11, 2005 12:22PM

Indubt'bly


Re: A new poem by Sappho.
Posted by: Hugh Clary (---.att.net)
Date: July 11, 2005 12:36PM

Hey, even Shakespeare did't, so I should not be so critical.

Feed'st thy light'st flame with self-substantial fuel
[...]

Which, used, lives th' executor to be.
[...]

The eyes, 'fore duteous, now converted are

[etc.] Hey, there is also an anastrophe in that line! Or is it hyperbaton? Purists will know, I feel sure.

There may even have been an elision in the original Greek, from which the given translation was made. Still, I doubt Sappho's had such a device, or was even in IP for that matter.


Re: A new poem by Sappho.
Posted by: JohnnySansCulo (---.nycmny83.covad.net)
Date: July 11, 2005 01:32PM

I think they used Ionic Pentameter


Re: A new poem by Sappho.
Posted by: Elliot (---.nyc.biz.rr.com)
Date: July 13, 2005 05:30PM

Ohhh!!! This is why I love this site so...

E ;-p




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