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The Poems of Sappho, Part II


... Po`das de'
poi'kilos ma'slhs e?ka'lupte, Lu'dion ka'lon e?'rgon.

A broidered strap of beautiful Lydian work covered her feet.

Her shining ankles clad in fairest fashion
In broidered leather from the realm of Lydia,
    So came the Goddess.

This fragment is very likely from an invocation to Aphrodite. It is from the Scholiast on Aristophanes' "Peace," 1174; Pollux about A.D. 180 also mentions it.


... Pantoda'pais memigme'na xroi'aisin.

Shot with innumerable hues.

Quoted by the Scholiast on Apollonius of Rhodes, i, 727. Sappho's reference may be to the rainbow.


E?'meðen d? e?'xeisða la'ðan.

Thou forgettest me.


... H?' tin? a?'llon
[ma^llon] a?nðrw'pwn e?'meðen filhsða.

Or lovest another more than you do me.

Both from Apollonius to show the Aeolic e?'methen for e?'mou^.


Ou?' ti moi u?'mmes.

You are nought to me.

As ðelet? u?'mmes.

While you will.

These are quoted by Apollonius to show the Aeolic form u?'mmes.


kai` poðh'w kai` ma'omai.

I yearn and I seek.

From the "Etymologicum Magnum" to show the Aeolic form poðe'w, "I yearn."


Skidname'nas e?n sth'ðesin o?'rgas
mapsula'kan glw^ssan pefula'xðai.

When anger spreads through the breast keep thy tongue from barking foolishly (or idly).

When anger surges through thy heart
Let not thy foolish tongue take part.

This piece of somewhat sentenious advice is of an unusual type amongst the Sapphic fragments. It is quoted by Plutarch in his essay "On Restraining Anger."


Ai? d? h?^xes e?'slwn i?'meron h?' ka'lwn,
kai` mh' ti vei'pen glw^ss? e?ku'ka ka'kon,
    ai?'dws ke' s? ou? ki'xanen o?'ppat?
    a?'ll? e?'leges peri` tw^ dikai'ws.

Hadst thou wished for things good or noble and had not thy tongue formed evil speech, shame would not have shown from they eyes, but thou hadst spoken frankly about it.

Aristotle ("Rhetoric", i, 9), about 330 B.C., says "base things dishonour those who do or wish them, as Sappho showed when Alcaeus said:

?io'plok? a?'gna mellixo'meide Sa'pfoi
ðe'lw ti vei'pen a?'lla' me kwlu'ei ai?'dws.

"'Violet-weaving, chaste sweetly smiling Sappho, I would speak but bashfulness restrains me.'"

And she answered him in the words of the present fragment. Blass thinks that these two lines assigned to Alcaeus are also by Sappho, and about A.D. 1110 Anna Comnena certainly suggested the same authorship.


Sta^ði ka?'nta fi'los,....
kai` ta`n e?'p? o?'ssois a?mpe'tason xa'rin.

Face me, my dear one...and unveil the grace in thine eyes.

Turn to me, dear one, turn thy face,
And unveil for me in thine eyes, their grace.

Athenaeus says that Sappho addressed this poem, of which this is a fragment, to a man famous for his physical beauty. It has also been suggested that the lines may have been addressed to Sappho's brother. It need not, however, necessarily be assumed that any particular person is meant.


Xru'seoi d? e?re'binðoi e?p? ai?o'nwn e?fu'onto.

And golden pulse grew along the shores.

From Athenaeus.


La'tw kai` Nio'ba ma'la me`n fi'lai h?^san e?'tairai.

Lato and Niobe were most dear friends.

From Athenaeus.


Mna'sesðai' tina' fami kai` u?'steron a?mme'wn.

I think men will remember us even hereafter.

From Dio Chrysostom, who, writing about A.D. 100, remarks that this is said "with perfect beauty."


H?ra'man me`n e?'gw se'ðen, A?'tði, pa'lai po'ta.

I loved thee Atthis, once long ago.

From Hephaestion, about A.D. 150, quoted as an example of metre.


Smi'kra moi` pai^s e?'mmen e?fai'neo ka?'xaris.

To me thou didst seem a small and ungraceful child.

Quoted by Plutarch and others.


A?'ll? o?'nmh` magalu'nneo daktuli'w pe'ri.

Foolish woman! Have no pride about a ring.

Mentioned by Herodian about A.D. 160.


Ou?k oi?^d? o?'tti ðe'w, du'o moi ta` noh'mata.

I know not what to do: I have two minds.

In doubt I am, I have two minds,
I know not what to do.

Quoted about 220 B.C. by Chrysippus, the Stoic philosopher.


Psau'hn d? ou? doki'moim? o?ra'nw du'si p'axesin.

With my two arms, I do not aspire to to touch the sky.

Quoted by Herodian.


W?'s de` pai^s pe'da ma'tera pepteru'twmai.

So, like a child after its mother, I flutter.

From the "Etymologicum Magnum."


H?^ros ?'aggelos i?mero'fwnos a?'h'dwn.

The messager of spring, the sweet voiced nighingale.

Quoted by the Scholiast on the Electra of Sophocles, 149, "the nightingale is the messager of Zeus, because it is the sign of spring."

Compare Ben Johnson's "The Sad Shepherd," Act II, Scene vi: "The dear good angel of the Spring, the nightingale."


E?'ros dau?^te' m? o? lusime'les do'nei,
gluku'pikron a?ma'xanon o?'rpeton.

Now Love, the ineluctable, dominates and shakes my being, and fills me with bitter-sweetness.

Now Love, the ineluctable, with bitter sweetness
Fills me, overwhelms me, and shakes my being.

Quoted by Hephaestion.


A?'tði soi` d e?'meðe'n men a'ph'xðeto
fronti'sden, e?'pi d? A?ndrome'dan po'thj.

But to thee, Athis, the thought of me is hateful; thou fliest to Andromeda.

Quoted by Hephaestion with the preceding, to which it does not appear really to belong.


E?'ros dau?^t? e`ti'naksen e?'moi fre'nas,
a?'nemos kat o?'ros dru'sin e?mpe'swn.

Now Eros shakes my soul, a wind on the mountain overwhelming the oaks.

Now like a mountain wind the oaks o'erwhelming,
Eros shakes my soul.

Quoted by Maximus Tyrius about 150 B.C. He speaks of Socrates exciting Phaedus to madness, when he speaks of love.


O?'ta pa'nnuxos a?'sfi kata'grei.

When all night long [sleep] holds them.

Bergk suggest that the words o?'ppat? a?'wros may have preceeded these words. The fragment quoted by Apollonius, and its sense may be "when all night long sleep holds their eyes,"


A?'ge dh` xe'lu di^a' moi fwna'essa ge'noio.

Come, O divine shell, yield thy resonances to me.

Come, O come, divinest shell,
And in my ear all thy secrets tell.

Quoted by Hermogenes and Eustathius. Sappho is apparently addressing her lyre. The legend is that Hermes is supposed to have made the first lyre by stretching the strings across the cavity of a tortise's shell.


Ka?pa'lais u?poðu'midas
ple'ktais a?mp? a?palaj de'raj

And delicately woven garlands round tender neck.

Quoted by Athenaeus

Next: Part III