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Frontispiece to Mary Robinson translation of Sappho [1796] (Public Domain Image)


Usually paired with Homer as one of the two greatest ancient Greek poets, Sappho’s poety has come down to us only in fragments. Even these fragments are so evocative, however, that Sappho has become a mirror which each generation uses to reinterpret the question: “What is erotic?”

 Sappho and Phaon
by Mary Robinson [1796]
The doomed love of Sappho for Phaon, by the 18th century ‘English Sappho,’ Mary Robinson

 The Poems of Sappho
translated by John Myers O’Hara [1910]
A modern interpretive rendition of Sappho into English

 The Poems of Sappho
English and Transliterated Greek
translated by Edwin Marion Cox [1925]
A collection of Sappho interpretations

 The Poems of Sappho (Unicode)
English and Greek translated by Edwin Marion Cox [1925]
Sappho in the original Greek

 The Songs of Bilitis
by Pierre Louÿs, tr. by Alvah C. Bessie [1926]
A famous hoax, which has had a huge impact on our modern perception of Sappho.

 Aphrodite (Ancient Manners)
by Pierre Louÿs, tr. by Willis L. Parker, ill. by Frank J. Buttera [1932]
Tragic loves of a courtesan in Ptolemaic Egypt, from the author of Bilitis.