Circa 630 BCE - Circa 570 BCE
“May I write words more naked than flesh, stronger than bone, more resilient than sinew, sensitive than nerve.”
Plato referred to her as “The 10th Muse.” Horace wrote in his Odes that her lyrics are worthy of sacred admiration. Despite living a mere 30 years, Sappho remains one of the greatest poets of ancient Greece and one of the most famous in all European history. Her home was the Greek Island of Lesbos in the Aegean Sea. Though married to a wealthy merchant and having a daughter named Cleis, her words of longing for various female loves have been central to lesbian cultural ethos for centuries. So much so that the island of her birth became the basis for the word lesbian and a variation of her own name is now literary shorthand for female homosexual desire. Sappho inspired young women to cultivate social skills, discuss literature, and to worship Aphrodite, the goddess of love and sexuality. She wrote love poems in tribute to these intense relationships and shared them with both her family and the women of her salon. She was unique in that her poetry was written not in homage to the gods or for political reasons, as was the fashion of the day; rather her work was of a personal nature and is celebrated for its passionate descriptions of emotion and simple lyrical beauty. Of her verse, nine volumes of poetry have been recovered, almost all in mere fragmented form. The tragic loss of so much of her writing is often attributed to the age of the papyrus upon which the words were written; others contend that its homoerotic nature made it subject to purposeful destruction by the Church; whatever the reason, that which survives has moved and inspired people of all backgrounds for millennia.
Sexual Orientation Lesbian
Gender Identity Cisgender
Nations Affiliated Greece
Era/Epoch Antiquity/Ancient History (beginning of recorded history-476 CE)
Field(s) of Contribution