The Ancient Library

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ef great beauty, and of one of which the celebrated Epithalamium of Catullus,

" Vesper adest, juvenes consurgite,"

is doubtless an imitation. In that imitation, as well as in several of Sappho's own fragments, we perceive the exquisite taste with which she em­ployed images drawn from nature, the best example of which is perhaps the often quoted line (Fr. 68),

Fetnrepe, Trdvra ^epcts, ova <paivo\is e

in comparison with which even Byron's beautiful imitation,

" 0 Hesperus, thou bringest all things,'*

not only sounds tame, but fails to express the latter, and perhaps the better, portion of the image. Those of her poems, which are addressed to her female friends are so fervid, that they ought almost to be classed with her erotic poems.

Her hymns invoking the gods (ol k\t}tiko\ v/u.voi) are mentioned by the rhetorician Menander (En-corn, i. 2), who tells us that among them were many to Artemis, and to Aphrodite, in which the various localities of their worship were referred to. A hymn of hers to Artemis was imitated by Damophila (Philostr. Vit. Soph. i. 30). Accord­ing to Suidas, her lyric poems formed nine books, which were probably arranged merely according to the metres of the poems. (See Neue, p. 11, fol.) The same compiler ascribes to her epigrams, elegies, iambs, and monodies. The last of these terms designates poems which were intended to be sung, not by a chorus, but by a single voice, a distinction which is simply a characteristic of the greater portion of the lyric poetry of the Aeolians ; that of the Dorians, on the contrary, was chiefly choral. As to the iambs mentioned by Suidas, it is true that iambic lines are intro­duced into her strophes, but the species of poetry called iambic, such as that of Archilochus, is alto­gether alien to her genius. With respect to the elegies and epigrams, she had a place in the Meleager's Garland, which contained, he tells us, " few flowers of Sappho, but those roses " (v. 6) ; but it does not follow that these pieces were in elegiac verse. The Greek Anthology contains three epigrams under her name, the genuineness of which is doubtful. Jacobs accepts them, as "priscam simplicitatem redolentia." (Brunck, Anal. vol. i. p. 55 ; Jacobs, Anth. Graec. vol. i. p. 49, vol. xiii. p. 949). Her poems were all in her native Aeolic dialect, and form with those of Alcaeus the standard of the Aeolic dialect of Lesbos. (Ahrens, de Graecae Linguae Dialectis^ vol. i.). Dionysius (v. 23) selects her diction as the best example of polished and flowery com­position (yXcupvpas Kal dvQypas (rwfleVecos). Among the grammarians who wrote upon Sappho and her works were Chamaeleon (Ath. xiii. p. 599, c.) and Callias, who was also a commentator on Alcaeus. (Strab. xiii. p. 618). Draco of Stratonica wrote on her metres (Suid. s. v. Apa-/ccof) ; and Alexander the Sophist lectured on her poetry (Aristid. Epitaph, p. 85). There were also some anonymous vTro/j.v^/j.ara. Portions of her eighth book were transferred by a certain Sopater into his Eclogae. (Phot. Bill. Cod. 161.)

It remains to speak of the musical and rhyth-



mical forms, in which the poetry of Sappho was embodied. Herodotus (I. c.) calls her generically hovvottoios : Suidas jises the specific terms Ai/pt/cif and \^d\rpia. Her instrument was the harp, which she seems to have used both in the form of the Aeolian barbiton and the Lydian pectis. The invention of the latter was ascribed to her by some of the ancients (Ath. xiv. p. 635, b. c.) ; and it is probably by a confusion of terms that Suidas assigns to her the invention of the plectrum^ which instrument was only used for striking the old lyre (^opjuryl), and not for the pectis, which was played with the fingers only. (See Neue, p. 11). Her chief mode of music was the Mixo-lydian, the tender and plaintive character of which was admirably adapted to her amatory poems, and the invention of which was ascribed to her by Aristoxerius, although others assigned it to Pythocleides, and others to Terpander. (Plut. de Mus. 16, 28, pp. 1136, e. 1140, f.)

Of the metres of Sappho, the most important is that which bears her name, and which only differs from the Alcaic by the position of a short syllable, which ends the Sapphic and begins the Alcaic verse, for example


Grandmis misit pater et riiben Vi des ut alta stet nive candidum,

From the resemblance between the two forms, and from the frequent occurrence of each of them in the fragments of Sappho and Alcaeus, and in the Odes of Horace and Catullus, we may fairly conclude that in these two verses we have the most characteristic rhythm of the Aeolian lyric poetry. A thorough discussion of this Sapphic verse would involve the examination of the whole subject of the early Greek metres. Some inves­tigation of it is, however, necessary, both on account of the importance of the metre in itself, and of the prevailing errors with regard to its structure and rhythm. The gross and absurd blunder of what we believe is still the ordinary mode of reading the Sapphic verses in Horace, has been of late exposed and corrected more than once, especially by Professor Key (Journal of Edu­cation^ vol. iv. p. 356 ; Penny Cyclopaedia, art. Arsis). The true accentuation* is : —

as is clearly seen even in Latin Alcaic verse, and without the possibility of a doubt in the genuine Greek Sapphic and Alcaic. There is, however, we think, still some doubt which of the accented syl­lables ought to have the stronger accent and which the weaker.

With regard to the division of the feet, we assume (not having the space here to prove) that the fundamental element of the greater part of the earlier Greek metrical sj^stems, epic as well as

lyric, was the Choriamb us — w w ^ used either

alone or doubled _ w w £ ^ w - (as in the so-called Pentameter), and either with or without an unaccented introductory or terminal syllable,

* As a mere matter of convenience the word accent is used in its English sense, designating the stress of the voice on a syllable, and not in its proper sense, which it has when used in Greek grammars, namely the musical pitch of a syllable,

z z 3

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