The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Sappho
SAPPHO, săf'ō, Greek poetess: b. Mitylene, or Eresus, Island of Lesbos. She was the greatest of ancient poets of her sex and flourished between 630 and 570 B.C., being a younger contemporary of Alcæus. Little is known certainly of the events of her life. On account of political commotions she left Lesbos for Sicily. But in later years she returned to Mitylene where she became the centre of a female coterie, a school of poetry of which the famous Erinna was a member. She was the author of various poems; hymns, odes, elegies, epigrams — of which only two complete pieces, an ode ‘To Aphrodite’ and ‘To a Maiden,’ together with some fragments, have come down to us; these display intense feeling, glowing imagination and a high finish. One of them is quoted in full by Longinus in his treatise ‘On the Sublime.’ She is said to have invented several metres; at least one still bears her name and has been used by such ancient poets as Horace and such modern ones as Canning in his ‘Needy Knife-grinder.’ There is an edition of the extant fragments with translations and memoir by H. T. Wharton (3d ed., Chicago 1895). Ancient papyri have recently brought other fragments of Sappho's verse to light. Consult Bergk, ‘Poetæ Lyric’ (Vol. III, Leipzig 1914); Edmonds, J. M., (in Classical Review, Vol. XXII, Vol. XXVIII, London 1909 and 1914); Classical Quarterly (Vol. III, ib. 1909); Hunk, A. S. (in Classical Studies, Vol. IX, p. 39, ib. 1915) Brandt, P., ‘Sappho’ (Leipzig 1905); Christ-Schmid, ‘Geschichte der Griechischen Literatur’ (6th ed., Munich 1912); Farnell, G. S., ‘Greek Lyric Poetry’ (London 1891); Wright, W. C. ‘Short History of Greek Literature’ (New York 1907).