Sacred Texts  Classics  Index  Previous 

A few single words or short phrases attributed to Sappho have been preserved here or there by various writers. Some examples may be given as they have a certain interest.

Eustathius speaks of a "vagabond friendship, as Sappho would say," καλὸν δημόσιον [transcription] --"a public good."

The "Lexicon Sequerianum" defines Ἄκακοσ [transcription] as meaning "without experience of ill," and says "so Sappho uses the word."

The "Etymologicum Magnum" defines Ἀμαμαξύσ [transcription] as a vine trained on poles, and says that Sappho makes the plural ἀμαμάξυδεσ [transcription] . The same work mentions Sappho's use of the form αὔωσ [transcription] for ἤωσ [transcription] , "the dawn."

Pollus says that Sappho used the word Βεῦδοσ [transcription] for a woman's dress.

Phrynichus, the grammarian, says that Sappho calls a woman's dressing-case where she keeps her scents, γρύτη [transcription] .

A Parisian manuscript (ed. Cramer) says: "Among the Aeolian ζ [transcription] is used for δ [transcription] , as when Sappho says ζαβατον [transcription] for διάβατον [transcription] , 'fordable'."

Cheoeroboscus says: "Sappho makes the accusative of κίνδυνοσ [transcription] , danger, κίνδυν [transcription] ." Another writer says κίνδυνα [transcription] .

Photius, in his Lexicon (ninth century) says: "θάψοσ [transcription] is a wood used to dye hair and wool yellow, which Sappho called ξύλον Σκυθικόν [transcription] , Scythian wood."

The Fayum fragments in the Egyptian Museum in Berlin, brought there in 1879, contain among other things a very small scrap with a very imperfect text on both sides of it. The fragment is considered to be of the eight century A.D., and Professor Blass of Kiel ascribes the text to Sappho, judging by the metre and the dialect. There is a posthumous essay by Bergk on this subject in the fourth edition, 1882, of his "Poetae Lyrici Graeci," but the text of the fragments is so exceedingly imperfect that attempts at restoration are the merest conjectures.

Finally, the following verse may be quoted:

Κεῖνον ἆ χρυσόθρονε Μοῦσ᾽, ἔνισπεσ
ὔμνον ἐκ τᾶσ καλλιγύναικοσ ἐσθλᾶσ
Τηιοσ χώρασ ὄν ἀείδε τερπνῶσ πρέσβυσ ἀγαυὸσ. [transcription]

O Muse, golden throned, sing that strain which the revered elder of Teos, from the rich land of fair women, sang so melodiuosly.

This verse was almost certainly not written by Sappho. Athenaeus says that "Hemesianax was mistaken when he represented Sappho and Anacreon as contemporaries, for Anacreon lived in the time of Cyrus and Polycrates [about 563-478 B.C.], while Sappho lived in the reign of Alyattes, father of Croesus." It is extremely improbable that Sappho was still living when Anacreon was born.