Sappho in Athens: Reperformance and Performative Contextualizations of the New
Cologne Papyrus, or Old Age and Rejuvenation through Chorality
What is New About the New Sappho?
In 2002, the University of Cologne purchased a small
collection of 25 papyri. In the process of preserving and deciphering the
papyrus, it was possible to recover two fragments of Sappho from various
scraps of a mummy wrapping.
The first eight lines of the first column clearly
constitute the end of a poem (= A1). NS (New Sappho) 9–20 displays a partial
overlap with fr. 58 V./L-P, already known since 1922. In volume 15 of the
Oxyrhynchus papyri ( P. Oxy.
), 26 line endings have
been published as fr. 1787. Lines 11–22, of which the left margin is largely
lost, can now largely be reconstructed, so that a complete poem has been
recovered (I will designate it as T, for Tithonos), which represents
primarily a lament on old age. The metre is an acephalous Hipponactean with
internal double choriambic expansion. While P. Oxy.
1787 originated in the second century ad, 
the new discovery is to be dated on
the basis of palaeographical analysis—in part, it demonstrates epigraphic
forms—to the Ptolemaic period, specifically early third century bc, and is
thus the oldest extant fragment of Sappho. After the “old age” poem, which
presents and ends with Tithonos as a mythical exemplum, comes a short space,
in the second column after the eighth line, in another, less careful hand
with larger and more rounded forms. There follows a further fragment of a
poem with thirteen lines (here designated by O, for Orpheus), which is
certainly not to be ascribed to Sappho. It does not display the typical
Lesbian dialect form, nor are any of the Aeolian metres recognisable, while
the diction is almost modern Attic, to some degree resembling koine
, while Doric prevails in several forms,
and Aeolian is occasionally attempted.
The new papyrus, around half a millennium older and originating from the
Ptolemaic period, is particularly interesting in that it does not come from
a scholarly edition, but rather is the product of an earlier Hellenistic
performance or reading practice which might even trace back to earlier
performance practices in the sixth and fifth centuries. Therefore we can
detect a very interesting case of diachronically shifting receptions of
Sappho. After its original setting in the female Sapphic circle around 600
bc, the oral text is copied and comes via Panionic cities in Asia Minor, and
perhaps tyrannical courts like Polykrates’ Samos, to Athens, which grew into
the new cultural hub of the Hellenic world under Peisistratos. Two new
occasions of Sapphic reception were certainly of special significance:
first, the symposium, and second, public festivals, particularly the
During the latter, Homeric epics were also presented to a larger audience
in a relay performance by rhapsodes, who alternated in singing longer
sections that became the basis of the later books (Plato Hipparchus
228b-c). Anakreon, Alkaios, Sappho, and other
Archaic and Classical poets were recited as well, in a thematic arrangement
of poems performed one after the other. It goes without saying that, already
at this point in history, we recognize a shift from a female to a male
public and interests. Athens becomes the center of Panhellenic values, and
the texts now gain a new cultural status.In the symposium, they are
assimilated to short skolia
sayings of wisdom; 
whereas at large, public festivals, some poems are adapted to showcase
citharodic spectacles. Also in the context of festivals, one poem arises
from the preceding poem in relay form, and in the latter Panathenaic venue
we might have long performances of multiple selections arranged by
great media revolution from a predominantly oral culture in reception to a
literate culture, starting with the late fifth century and culminating in
the new, Hellenistic culture with the establishment of the great Alexandrian
library, is another decisive step in the reception of Sappho. Differing
transmissions of the songs take place in papyrus rolls: the order of
arrangement of the poems can now be determined by older performance
traditions and also by the newer anthologies compiled according to modern,
Hellenistic values. Literary refinement; an interest in the Panhellenic star
status of the great woman poet; a focus on aesthetic and metapoetic topoi,
especially on the subjects of music and
self-referentiality; and religious concerns about the afterlife determine
the selection of passages. Furthermore, literary tastes at this point do not
even preclude adding a pseudo-Sapphic song contemporary with the literary
The Cologne papyrus thus affords an insight into how Sappho was performed or
even read shortly after 300 bc. In the field of drama, in the early
Hellenistic period extracts of choral and dialogue passages from diverse
tragedies were collected according to thematic principles. These papyrus
transcripts mirror new trends in performance, such as staging extracts
regarded as the best and most popular parts as solo songs.
We may imagine the
performance practice to be reconstructed on the basis of the new Sappho
papyrus as something similar. In the form of an anthology which included
texts on the themes of eros,
and immortality, Sappho stands beside other songs which were probably only
composed at the time of copying the Cologne papyrus. In the slightly later
canonical and scholarly Alexandrian edition in nine books, on the other
hand, the texts were arranged according to metre, so that within each group
the poems were copied alphabetically according to Sappho’s first lines. In
this latter edition, the occasion of the performance is also a criterion for
the arrangement: it concludes with wedding songs in book nine.
The “best of” selection is sung consecutively, while the theme of music
itself forms the focus of the performance for a public obsessed with song. The self-referential reflection on the presentation underlines the
virtuosity of the song. At the same time, the extant collection reflects
contemporary taste in its inclusion of material concerning the needs and
anxiety pertaining to the afterlife; the central element of the mystery
cults is echoed here too.
This makes the selection a veritable religious testimony,
not least in that, in the last anonymous poem, Orpheus is associated with
Sappho. Previously, the lyric singer par excellence
never occurred in Sappho; he is first attested by Simonides ( Poetae Melici Graeci
567). On the basis of a new
evaluation of the question of the afterlife and the existence of mysteries
of the Muses, our understanding of Sappho has recently been altered in a
significant respect (Hardie 2004, 2005). The discovery of the Cologne
papyrus was itself in part the catalyst for this reassessment. It raises the
question of whether such connotations of mysteries and references to Orpheus
may have already occurred in hitherto unknown poems—it may be recalled that
the first book alone of the Alexandrian edition, probably based on
Aristophanes of Byzantium, consisted of 1,320 verses (Yatromanolakis 1999),
and we might ask whether such material was composed and assembled
specifically in order to satisfy contemporary concerns and expectations. Some notion of the mysteries, coming from Asia Minor, Lydia, and Anatolia,
which stood in a close cultural relationship with Lesbos, could have
influenced Sappho directly. Orpheus and Orphism suddenly appear in the Greek
world around Sappho’s time, and at least in the Hellenistic period Lesbos is
closely associated with this mythological figure. Phanocles ( CA
, 106–108 Powell) reports that the head of Orpheus,
who was torn to pieces by Thracian women, together with his lyre, was
brought from the north to the shores of Lesbos by the waves. Terpander of
Antissa had already made Lesbos renowned for its music decades before Sappho
and Alkaios. He is famous notably for the invention of the seven-stringed
lyre, which he developed from the pektis,
a kind of harp which he had encountered among the Lydians.
Arion, the citharode
from Methymna of Lesbos, is also associated with mythical stories of Apollo,
Dionysus, and Orpheus through the episode of his rescue by a dolphin
The particular interests of the anthology found in the Cologne papyrus are
emphasized by its arrangement, which differs from the previously known
Alexandrian editing practice. Aside from the good fortune that we now
possess another, almost complete poem by Sappho (aside from fr. 1, 16, 31,
and, in part, 94 and 96), which proves to be a lyric masterpiece, the new
discovery affords a highly interesting view of early Hellenistic performance
practice, according to which songs were collected and presented together on
the basis of thematic content.
In the following discussion, the entire discovery is also to be evaluated in
relation to the changes of transmission it reveals. The overlaps (NS 9–20 =
T) with P. Oxy.
1787 confirm in a reassuring
fashion the earlier philological reconstruction and interpretation of the
lacunae in fr. 58 V. Many proposed emendations have proved correct, and the
conclusion, based on external indications, that a new poem begins at fr. 58.11 can now be regarded as certain.
Admittedly, that which stands
before and after the text of P. Oxy.
1787 and fr. 58 is distinct from it. Above all, however, a debate has arisen as to
whether or not the last four lines of fr. 58 belong to poem T. Can the song
as it is preserved in the Cologne papyrus end with the Tithonos myth, in
order to give an intelligible and satisfactory resolution?In other words,
is T (NS 9–20) complete as it is, 
or was something omitted in the anthology?
Is it possible
that the poem has been shortened? Greg Nagy has suggested—and I concur—that
both versions are complete, but that they reflect different performance
Nagy’s view (2009:186), the longer version can be situated in the original
choral context of the festival in Lesbos; the shorter might be performed at
the private symposium or at the public Panathenaia. On both latter
occasions, only excerpts from various songs were presented, taken from a
thematic compilation in order to achieve smoother transitions from one
excerpt to the next.
In any case, no version is right or wrong, but one or another version
could be used according to the context in which it was performed (Nagy
2009:186). Or was the arrangement even an answer to the needs of the time of
its textual fixation shortly after 300 bc? The limits of a poem could thus
be fluid, as the Cologne papyrus shows. The material was assembled according
to the occasion and its requirements. In the Cologne papyrus, A1 stands
before T. In P. Oxy.
1787 (fr. 58), however, there
are ten other lines, of which we can decipher very little (A2), while
instead of O there follow seven further lines (B): A2, T, and B.1–4 (the
four-line coda) are printed as fr. 58; B.5–7 as fr. 59 V.
Even more interesting is the last part, which is included in view of its
thematic association but which undoubtedly cannot be ascribed to Sappho. Three key themes are present which also characterize Sappho’s poetry as a
whole: love, self-referential poetic reflection in relation to music, and
notions of life after death. The presence of these motifs supports the
thesis of an anthology that was composed for performance in symposia. There
is evidence that Sappho was performed in this context.
The Cologne papyrus could then
represent the later transmission of such a collection. Love and love
lamentations, reflections on music, and general questions of life, old age,
death, and the afterlife are certainly prominent themes here, and when such
songs were removed from their original context they could have been arranged
according to these themes. We can only speculate about other possible
occasions in which the Hellenistic compilation may have been performed, for
example at symposia as before; at large, public festivals; smaller, informal
gatherings; or those of intellectuals or Orphic initiates. In view of the
nondefinitive and fluid mouvance
form of the text (casual
hand, corrections and improvements), Lundon (2007:160) regards the last part
O as an early poetic attempt on a still blank part of the papyrus.
suitable to the taste of the period in which it was written, might be
loosely influenced by Sappho and her themes. In this case, the roll would
not necessarily have served as the basis of a performance; rather, it is
possible that the Ptolemaic scribe, finding pleasure in the text he was
copying, simply continued to compose poetry. We would then have before us
the traces of an anonymous, provisional autograph. The author (or
authoress?) was still working on this text, and later, he (or she) may have
read it in a group of intellectuals, or perhaps, together with the Sappho
poems, it would have been performed in a symposium. Or perhaps a writer had
even tried to recall a new, improvised song which he had heard in such a
context together with the two Sappho songs.
Primary and Secondary Reception: The Choral Context
The division between primary and secondary intention and
reception of performance is relevant for the evaluation of the so-called
“old age” poem T and fr. 58. We have to find an answer to what Sappho
originally intended with such a text, and how the girls in her circle
understood these words. The poem on old age demonstrates certain parallels
with fr. 16, the famous priamel fragment.
The girls are being prepared for
their weddings, and in the chorus they are made conscious of the importance
of an all-encompassing beauty. This instruction occurs not only through the
didactic word but also by means of performance, which demands the engagement
of their entire bodies, and which mediates a total experience through
visual, acoustic, tactile, olfactory, and kinetic signals.
assumes a living choral culture for the reception of her poetry, even when
the songs are performed by a single singer.
I designate this phenomenon as the
“virtual chorus”: 
her songs may not have been sung by a chorus, but Sappho nonetheless
notionally employs the girls’ chorus of her circle as a cultural reference
point that is omnipresent for the girls.
Perhaps the girls did, in fact,
dance to the song as well.
In a traditional society which defined itself to a considerable extent
through myth and ritual, it is precisely such mythic-ritual discourses in
the choral paideia
which assume central
importance. Music, rhythm, and group movement to song and melody lead to a
deeper experience by the community of the importance of beauty. The
education in bellezza
is also reinforced through
premarital homosexual experience among the girls in the group. The
attraction of the girls both for one another and between the perfect chorus
leader Sappho and individual girls results in a comprehensive aesthetic
training. In a manner similar to Plato’s depiction in the Symposium
, through physical love one acquires increased
sensitivity and greater insight into surroundings, nature, fragrances, the
environment, and the cosmos. This experience also provides an aesthetic
understanding of the media that strengthen these feelings—words, music, and
dance—which together mediate visual poetry.
In a permanent synaesthesia,
attraction and experience combine in a cognitive awareness of kallos
in an almost philosophical sense.
girls are thus prepared for their marriages, for which they need both
physical and inner beauty, and in the recollection of their shared
experiences beauty is kept alive even after they have left the group.
In a secondary stage of reception, the aesthetic and philosophical potential
of these poems within the female group can then influence the male sphere. Thus Sappho’s poetry found entry to the symposia and achieved Panhellenic
status as a cultural achievement, so that it was also performed at larger
this process, the songs are removed from their original, pragmatic
Sitz im Leben
and can assume new functions and
meanings. They can be combined according to internal criteria alone, without
reference to their function within the girls’ group. Within a new,
Hellenistic culture which began to concern itself with the “scholarly”
editing of canonical poetry from the Archaic and Classical periods, such
poetry in its unabbreviated form was considered a consummate masterpiece,
according to the changed expectations of the recipients, and is accordingly
songs can equally be performed in other contexts in abbreviated versions,
and together with contemporary compositions in the form of a thematically
Relevance in the Context of the Leading Questions and Panels at the
The papyrus yields a completely new way of interpreting
lyric poetry. Parallel to a paradigm shift in the humanities to reception,
anthropology, performance, and images (the so called turns), we detach
ourselves from reconstructing only a biographically fixed personality of the
romantic poetess but put—in the words of Dimitrios Yatromanolakis
(2007)—more emphasis on understanding “Sappho in the making.” According to
Nagy (2009) and Yatromanolakis (2007) we can trace her in an evolutionary
model of “textures.” The Sapphic text is grounded in a synchronic and
diachronic flux of multilayered complexity. Only eventually and in a web of
metonymic scannings and “interdiscursive” dialogues does Sappho become a
viable entity, that is, a literary existence. In a still mainly oral and
traditional culture, this diachronic development takes place in a continuous
process of reperformance.
However, I do not share commentators’ recent reservations about the usual
efforts to reconstruct the original setting of Sappho. Such postmodern
skepticism against unidirectional constructs of grand narratives and
fictionalizations would exclude any possibility of understanding the primary
context and intention. On the contrary, even with all the new, diachronic
emphasis on reception, I regard it as even more vital to regain glimpses of
the original meaning and context of the poem. Only thus can we differentiate
it from later reperformances and enucleate the differentia specifica
of Sappho’s poems and this particular
The new fragment is also relevant to the Athens Dialogues in several other
ways. In particular, it deals with “Identity and Difference” and with gender
issues. In many respects, Sappho is the “Other,” or better, the “closest
foreign” (Hölscher 1965:81).Misunderstandings result mainly from inadequate
concepts of female homosexuality 
and from the modern view of lyric poetry. On the basis
of romantic ideas, one reprojects the belief that it has to do with
subjective and individual expression of inner and personal feelings.
In Personality in Greek Epic, Tragedy, and Philosophy
(1996), Christopher Gill differentiates the modern criteria defining
personality, subject, and free individuality from an objective and
participatory perspective in antiquity, where social contexts and roles are
more important than in modern times, where complete self-containedness,
individual freedom, and independence come to the fore. Therefore, we will
see that the centerpiece of the New Sappho is not the vexed outcry of the
individual lamenting about old age; rather, it has to do with aesthetic
education in the Sapphic circle and with ideas of rejuvenation. Moreover,
the entire meaning is acted out against the foil of a living choral culture
and chorality, where the education of young women in social roles and gender
values takes place.
As far as “Stories and History” is concerned, the central myth is not just a
narration, but an exemplary reflection, a piece of cultural memory that
confers social memory and cohesion, acted out in the imagery of choral
dance.Such a view is radically different from subjective and feminist
that anachronistically reproject the modern view of the female individual to
a traditional society of alterity, where gender roles are rather strictly
In the realm of “Logos and Art,” with the emphasis on reperformance and
reception we gain a fascinating picture of shifting meanings in different
social and gendered contexts of performance. Furthermore, we see that
diachronic receptions depend on changing political systems and cultural
values. Thus, the aristocratic traditionality of Mytilene in 600 bc produces
a completely different framework from that of tyrannical or later democratic
Athens and then Ptolemaic Alexandria, with their new scholarly and ethical
backgrounds. Moreover, these contexts should not be hastily identified with
modern or postmodern conditions of life. Therefore, it is vital to initiate
a dialogue between the text and the reader, and to explore the particular
alterity of sociocultural conditions in the context of the original
performance and later reperformances as phenomena of reception. For this
purpose, we have to go through the text in detail.
The New First Part (A1)
A1 (= P. Köln
col. I, 1–8 [new
1–11] ) is apparently the end of a poem, in which Sappho returns to the
present ( νῦν
) and at this point speaks of
her position of honour as a poet in Hades after her death, which is
identical to the prestige she enjoys in her earthly life.
]̣ ο ̣[
2 ]̣ υχ̣ [
] νῦν θα̣λ̣[ί]α̣ γ̣ [
δὲ γᾶς γε ̣ […]̣
]̣ ν̣ ἔχο̣ι̣σαγ γέρας ὠς̣
6 ] οιεν ὠς νῦν ἐπὶ γᾶς ἔοισαν
λιγύ̣ραν, [α]ἴ̣ κεν ἔλοισα
8 ] α ̣κ̣άλα, Μοῖσ’, ἀείδω.
enjoyment of the celebration
having the honour, as is only right,
being still alive (upon the earth),
the light-toned, if
reaching for the harp
beautiful, Muse, I sing.
Sappho clearly returns to the frame and parameters of performance in a
concluding coda, in which she addresses the festive enjoyment of the chorus
in singing and dancing. She imagines herself in Hades after her death and
vividly sees how, even there, she will be granted a place of honour as a
singer. She desires for herself the explicit admiration among the dead that
she still enjoys among the living. Her present fame parallels her reputation
in the realm of the dead; she is confident that she will be accorded the
same glory in the underworld after her death, or at least she hopes to be. In their mystery cults, the Muses inspire conceptions of an existence in the
afterlife which reflects the situation on earth (Hardie 2005:esp. 22–32). This is more than merely the wish of κλέος
, an ‘immortal fame’, on the part of the poet. Sappho
illustrates her situation when she crosses the threshold of death in
concrete terms: life there resembles that which she now enjoys. In Hades,
she will reach for her lyre and begin to sing, accompanied at least in
imagination by the dance of the girls’ chorus, just as she does now. She
imagines how she will be admired by the souls gathered about her, who will
also form a choral round dance.
In the underworld as in this world above, Sappho needs the inspiration of the
Muse. The last two lines establish a chiastic mirroring of the first two
lines of the following poem (= T.1–2), which form the prelude to the song
about old age. One motif proceeds from the other, while the rhythm remains
unchanged. As in A1, death and the overcoming of death, performance in the
chorus, the Muse, immortality, and the recovery of youth are presented in a
utopian, pastoral context.
The Poem on Old Age (T)
Following the reconstruction of West (2005), the centerpiece
T of the papyrus reads thus:
ὔμμες πεδὰ Μοίσαν ἰ]ο̣κ[ό] λ̣πων
κάλα δῶρα, παῖδ L ε ⅃ ς ,
τὰ] ν̣ φιλάοιδον λιγύραν χε̣ L λύνναν ⅃ ·
ἔμοι δ’ ἄπαλον πρίν]
π̣οτ̣’ [ἔ] ο̣ντα L χρ ό ⅃ α γῆρα L ς ⅃
δ’ ἐγ] ένοντο τρίχες ἐκ μελαίνα̣ν̣·
5βάρυς δέ μ’ ὀ [θ]ῦμο̣ς̣ πεπόηται,
γό̣ L να ⅃ δ’ [ο]ὐ φέ̣ L ροισι ⅃ ,
δή ποτα λαίψη̣ρ’ ἔον ὄρχησθ’ ἴσα
στεναχίσδω θαμέως· ἀλλὰ τί κεν
ἄνθρωπον ἔοντ’ οὐ δύνατον γέν L εσθαι ⅃ .
καὶ γάρ π̣[ο]τ̣α̣
Τίθωνον ἔφαντο βροδόπαχυν̣ L Α ὔων ⅃
10 ἔρωι φ ̣ ̣ α̣θ̣ε̣ισαν
βάμεν’ εἰς ἔσχατα γᾶς φ L έροισα[ν,
[κ] ά̣λ̣ο̣ν καὶ νέον, ἀλλ’ αὖτον ὔμως ἔμ L αρψε ⅃
χρόνωι π̣ό̣λ̣ι̣ο̣ν̣ γῆρας, ἔχ̣[ο]ν̣τ̣’
ἀθανάταν ἄ̣ L κοιτιν ⅃ .
the fragrant-blossomed Muses’ lovely gifts
girls, [and the] clear melodious lyre:
[but my once
tender] body old age now
[has seized;] my hair’s turned
[white] instead of dark;
my heart’s grown heavy, my knees
will not support me,
that once on a time were fleet for
the dance as fawns.
This state I oft bemoan; but what’s to
Not to grow old, being human, there’s no
Tithonus once, the tale was, rose-armed
love-smitten, carried off to the world’s
handsome and young then, yet in time grey
o’ertook him, husband of immortal
The poem is characterised by opposites. The girls should devote themselves to
the Muses, who will help them to coordinate their movement. Sappho sets the
rhythm and melody with the lyre. The situation of the chorus is decisive. In
contrast to the girls summoned to the round dance, the lyric “I,” who here
is certainly Sappho—for a repeated performance, however, any woman can
assume her place—positions herself opposite the group of young girls at the
emphatic first verse position in line 3. Age has conquered her body, her
skin: now it is weak, fragile, but once, like the young paides
who engage in paizein
, dancing, it was nimble and agile ( ἄπαλον πρίν ποτ’
Initially, the entire body is
addressed. The choral dance expresses itself entirely in body movement. Then
the body is divided into three sections in the perspective a capite ad calcem
- The hair, the youthful glory which characterizes the beauty of the
dancing girls, has become white. Above all, the earlier condition, black
hair, which the girls have, is emphasized. White and black mark the
beginning and end of the colon.
- The heart, the thumos,
localised in the diaphragm, represents emotional energy defined as an
organ. As with trikhes, the noun is
again placed at the center, while “heavy” stands like “white” as the
predicate adjective in an emphatic first position. Just as abstract old
age has overcome the “I” and the hair has been subjected to a process of
change (ἐγένοντο), so here the entire
drama is rendered in the passive perfect of ποιεῖν. The subject is helpless; she is delivered up to
an inevitability which she endures. The mood, the gay disposition which
manifests in the lightness (cf. ἄπαλον) of bodily movement, is dampened. Physical weight
prevents gliding and rising into the air.
- The knees, which metonymically and as synecdoche represent the
legs, suggest the movement in dance. Following the Gesetz der
wachsenden Glieder, they are explained with a relative
sentence or with a deictic main sentence (6): “These were once light”—in
chiasmus the often expanded ἄπαλον πρίν]
ποτ’ in line 3 is resumed—“to dance.” The knees were like
those of young deer.
In line 7, we come to the passive enduring of age that overcomes the victim,
and the subject’s reaction: “I lament of this often—I sigh often and groan.”
The “I” asks almost with resignation: “But what should I then do?” The
question is rhetorical: Sappho cannot do anything against it. Aging is a
natural process. There follows the asyndetically justifying gnome: as in fr. 16.21, the formula οὐ δύνατον
appears at the end (8). That which is most decisive is again placed in the
first, emphatic position. As a human being ( ἄνθρωπον
), one cannot become ἀγήραον
refers back to the ἐγένοντο
changing of the hair (4). The adjective, negated with the alpha privative,
is with a further explicit negation effectively affirmed in a kind of
For this thesis, a mythic example is introduced, justified with γάρ
(9).The myth, the authoritative word, is
appealed to in the past tense: 
“And it was said, that once”—the ποτα
is again taken up, contrasting with the here and now of
the performance—“that Eos abducted Tithonos.” Tithonos is placed in extreme
prolepsis: he is the decisive example. As a man, he will still grow old,
although a goddess loves him and seeks to obtain immortality for
him—forgetting in the process, however, to request that he also remain
ageless. Eos is a companion of Helios: she passes over the heavenly course
in advance. Moreover, she symbolises both the sunrise and the entire day,
and pursues her entire journey with undivided attention on Helios,
accompanied by her herald, the morning star Eosphorus. Love and sexuality
are localised in the realm of night, of death, of the unconscious, dreams,
and the ocean.
Recreation is identified with the sexual. Following the effort of the
journey, the aging of the day, one then retires to the shared bed, in order
to return rejuvenated to the next day’s labours.
The abduction undoubtedly occurs as a result of erotic desire. The
personified dawn, enflamed with love, transports the son of the Trojan king
to the edge of the world, to Ethiopia. Eos abducts Tithonos under the effect
of his beauty and youth (11), and she enjoys physical love with him at the
end of the world. She must still return there daily from the West, like
Helios, but in spite of the love of a goddess, Tithonos is in the course of
time overcome with grey old age (12). The attribute “grey” refers back to
the “greying” and the white colour of the hair in line 4.
The micro-narration is held to such a minimum that the circumstances of the
tragedy are not explicitly mentioned. We know from the Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite
(221–224) that Eos forgot to ensure
the agelessness of her beloved. In a traditional, oral society, the audience
would have been familiar with the variations of the myth. In artistic
representations, Tithonos is depicted as a beautiful young man, wearing a
crown and holding a lyre in his hand. He is obviously also a servant of the
Muses who brings them gifts.
Eos’ conventional violence in catching male youths like
Kephalos is transferred here to the terrors of aging: it attacks him even
though he is the beloved of his immortal spouse. ἔμαρψε
stands conspicuously at the end of the line; while it
was initially Eos who captured him, now it is old age which does so.
The mythical example is manipulated and complex in a manner similar to the
use of the Helen myth in fr. 16 (Bierl 2003:107–112). In the same way the
allusions are unusually ambivalent.
After beginning with a reflection
on her own aging, Sappho compares herself clearly with Tithonos: once young
and beautiful, now she too has grown old. Both figures are also
characterized by the lyre-playing of the Muses and singing, and they
continue to sing as they become older. Sappho, however, also reflects Eos,
just as the speaking “I” in fr. 16 also stands in relation to Helen. Both
are active as female subjects, and travel away over the sea for love. Helen
also embodies the aspect of Eos-Aotis in Sparta.
She is the symbol of the young
girl in the initiation on the eve of her wedding. Like Helen, Eos embodies
an aspect of Aphrodite: both go to the East, motivated by an insatiable
longing, and enjoy themselves in bed with a Trojan youth.
Like Eos, Sappho
loves radiant young bodies. She takes pleasure in the dancing girls, and
burns with desire for them. Moreover, she bears them away on artistic wings
to the limits of the unconscious, into the pastures of the night, of dreams,
and of a perfect aesthetics. The poetess even crosses the threshold of
death, sinks like Eos into the flood, into the ocean of love, and draws out
of it ever new love and youth.Eos has her “house and dancing places”
(Odyssey 12.3–4) in Aiaia, 
at the edge of the world where the sun rises. The image
of the χοροί
(Odyssey 12.4) is probably
very concrete: the sexually attractive goddess indeed leads rings of dancers
and takes members of the chorus into her house, just like Sappho. Eos is the
chorus leader of the girls gathered around her, who symbolize the attendant
stars. After she has indulged in a night of love, she dances in the early
morning together with her companions. As the sun rises, she shines upon
them. In the course of the day, she becomes old, before recovering her youth
in the underworld. From the journey through death, dreams, and the
unconscious, she derives new energy. She is immortal, a chorus leader, daily
above and below the earth (see A1). Therefore, Sappho identifies herself
constantly with this mythic figure, or with Aphrodite.
At least in the later tradition,
Sappho is associated with Aphrodite. The poetess and her model are united in
their love for pretty youths such as Adonis and Phaon, and it is repeatedly
narrated how they pursue their beloveds, depicting the eternal perpetuation
of their love. The erotic poetics of Sappho follows the logic of love as the
discourse of absence, as defined by Roland Barthes (1979:13–17). It is a
matter of imaginative seeking after the object of desire, and the limits can
be overstepped through music, poetry, and other aesthetic expressions. Sappho thus moves in imagination within the sphere of death, which is
reflected in concrete terms in her aging body, in order then through the
sphere of music and love to obtain youth once more.
Consistent with the approach of the Hellenistic tradition, the outcome of the
story in the new papyrus remains open. It suggests the rejuvenation of Eos
and Tithonos, and the continuing performance of music and dance. The
deferral to the next poem on Orpheus also reflects to some extent the erotic
poetics and the narrative through thematic allusions. The abrupt ending of
the myth allows reflection on the subjects of eros
, life after death or immortality, renewal, and music. The cyclical poetics of deferral is manifested in the antithetical
juxtaposition with the possibility of renewal. Sappho finds new energy in
her attention to the dancing girls. She may be old, yet in her enthusiasm
for youth and in her appreciation of their glowing bodies, she can always
overcome age. At the same time, in the primary reception within her circle,
the pedagogical function which resides precisely within khoreia
assumes an important role.
The marriage of
Eos is reflected in the situation of the young women who are being prepared
for marriage. Sappho can also give them the message that both they and their
future husbands will grow old. Through the later recollection of their
shared activities, above all in dance and music, and through a continued
devotion to beauty and the aesthetic, they can remain beautiful and young in
spirit—and thus also desirable. At least, by reperforming the same songs,
Sappho and the girls of whom she sings can preserve their virginal
freshness. As long as the song is performed, it remains current, being
performed by ever new figures: an aging chorus leader instructs young girls
in dance, who continuously leave the group and are replaced by others. It is
precisely in this way that Sappho lives on, even after she is dead.
metapoetically anticipates her own literary success.
The song is influenced by other laments on old age, but is in itself not at
all such a lament. A personal and resigned outburst of such feelings would
have been in any case rather ineffective and counterproductive within
The composition is much more a pedagogical statement for the benefit of the
young, aristocratic women in her group, and a self-referential poetic
reflection against the foil of the girls’ chorus.
of the Muses serve as inspiration for the aesthetics of movement, whereby
Sappho is in a sense the tenth Muse, 
who as chorus leader performs at
the head of the dancing circle, the image of the group of Muses.
beautiful when one orients oneself toward the beautiful. Sappho rejuvenates
herself in exactly the same way as her παῖδες
.Sappho’s poem, then, is not simply a “correction” of
the image of extreme old age is merely the expression of the impossibility
of choral and sexual union. Sappho’s lines therefore act out mutual desire,
inspiration, and an erotic rejuvenation.
The End of the “Old Age Poem” (B)
An abrupt ending, such as we find in the Cologne papyrus,
can readily be appreciated from a more modern, or even a Hellenistic,
perspective. However, the four-line coda (B.1–4) would certainly have stood
within its original context. In the primary, didactic intention, the return
to the “here and now”—the function of the poem within the circle of
girls—assumes considerable importance. We may consider my exposition of fr. 16 and 31 (Bierl 2003:120–122). In P. Oxy.
fr. 1.22–25 and fr. 2.1, the original ending is still preserved. The last
two lines of the coda (= fr. 58.23–26 V.) were already familiar in the
indirect tradition preserved by Clearchus (in Athenaeus
15.687b). The much-discussed question of whether
critical indications can clarify whether these lines belo ng to the Old Age
poem remains open.
The single available piece of evidence is their content. I cite the four
25 L ἔγω δὲ φίλημμ' ἀβροσύναν, ⅃ ] τοῦτο καί μοι
τὸ λά L μπρον ἔρος τὠελίω καὶ τὸ κά ⅃ λον λέ L λ ⅃ ογχε.
but I love delicacy …
this and love has obtained for me
the brightness and
beauty of the sun.
But I love shining elegance, and you knew this, and
has love of the sun allowed to share in the light and
The four lines thus make explicit for the girls and the audience that which
can only be imagined in the case of an open, abrupt ending: the singer is
not dead but lives on. It is a matter of immortality and renewal. She
continues to live not merely through κλέος
, her fame as a poetess, but in the hope of life after
death, in rejuvenation, and in her concrete influence on the present.
Like the famous priamel in fr. 16, the concluding verses could almost stand
as a motto for Sappho’s entire poetic œuvre.
Sappho, or the lyric “I,” says as
chorus leader that she loves shining elegance. In ἀβροσύνα
, the recollection of the radiant, oriental beloved
is preserved, whether Phaon, Adonis, or Tithonos.
In the original ending of the
so-called Old Age poem, Sappho makes it quite explicit that she loves the
beautiful from which radiance comes. Specifically, this means the girls. The
chorus leader and the dancing girls are reciprocally bound to one another,
and each desires the other. Yet this passion is far removed from any direct
sexual satisfaction. Sappho styles herself an old woman, because she cannot
and may not dance together with the girls as their equal. Of course she is
older, but she is still captivated by the grace of the virginal, glowing
bodies as they move during the dancing, from which a particular effect of
grace and radiance proceeds. While Sappho sings beguilingly and accompanies
herself on the lyre, the girls dance in graceful movement. The entire scene
is pure aesthetics, perfect beauty. In a reperformance the speaker would
have experienced this in the same way. Finally, we come to the curious
sentence to the effect that love of, that is desire for the sun has allowed
her to share in light and in beauty. In her desire for the highest beauty,
concretised in the sun—here she almost anticipates Plato—she receives a
share of it. Eos also acquired her radiance from her permanent devotion to
The solar dimension of the myth of Eos and Aphrodite, who take Oriental
lovers, now becomes more apparent. This love can never really be fulfilled:
one stumbles after the “luminous” in longing and erotic ecstasy in the realm
of desire and fantasies. Sappho’s poetics conceives this desire for the
absent one, whom one can never obtain, as an eternal postponement. In
Sappho’s fr. 1.21, pursuit and flight are concretised: “And if she flees,
she will soon pursue.” Within her circle, she chases and longs for the
bodies of the girls. Through her desire for the physical, she achieves
aesthetic satisfaction, just as the girls do in their relationship to
girl who sings Sappho’s songs can identify with this message, and through
the emphasis on artistic perfection and synaesthetic harmony, each enjoys
participation in it like Sappho. Beauty has an effect in turn on the girls’
radiance and sex appeal, which are necessary for marriage in an aristocratic
Finally, Sappho seems to evoke a mystical notion in her image of the sun. In
the afterlife, one gazes at the radiant light, takes delight in the blessed
chorus, and lives on. Here, as in the context of the mysteries, there is a
cosmic dimension. Does Sappho perhaps display evidence of early Orphic
experiences, which in this period came to the Greeks from Asia Minor via
Orphic-Bacchic gold leaves, light, radiance, Helios, the stars, and the
heavens are often mentioned.
In mythology, Orpheus is himself often closely
associated with Helios. The sun, the moon, and night assume a significant
role in both Sappho’s poetry and in Orphism, an importance which is now
confirmed by the Derveni papyrus. In the hermeneutics of a possibly
reform-oriented Orphic devotee, the sun is the central principle.
There it is placed
on an equal footing with Uranus’ phallus, which Zeus swallowed (col. 13;
16.1 KPT). The sun is the highest principle (col. 13.12 KPT). The explicit
erotic statement of love for the sun in Sappho could be explained by such a
context. Similarly, Phaon, the embodiment of the shining sun, is associated
with Sappho’s fascination with the phallus (Sappho fr. 211c).
In the Derveni
papyrus, Helios is the principle of life, 
the giver of life as encapsulated
fire, which lends movement and stimulation. Precisely in the obscure gold
leaf Thurioi 2, 492 Bernabé, Helios and fire also stand at the centre of the
cosmic interchange (line 4), the reciprocal exchange of opposites, in a
manner similar to Heraclitus, who is cited in the Derveni papyrus (col. 4
KPT) and who is often associated with Orphic ideas. The sight of the sun
means simply life (Sappho fr. 56; 65; Iliad
24.558), to which, as in the relevant passage in our poem, the highest
significance is ascribed. Likewise, in view of the epithet denoting
radiance, Eos assumes an important role in the extant fragments of Sappho
(fr. 6, 103, 104a, 123, 157, 175).
The last four lines, extant only in P. Oxy.
thus lend depth to this assertion. The whole context, however, does not
necessarily have to do with consolation or with a farewell to youth and
beauty, which is conventionally read into many of Sappho’s fragments.
verses expand the statement to a philosophical and aesthetic level. The love
of the sun and devotion to radiance implies at once a poetics both of loss
and of deferral. It is never possible to possess the beloved entirely for
oneself; one can only aspire to this, desire it. Sappho’s song is completely
indebted to the poetics of Eros, the eternal discourse of Barthesian absence
(Barthes 1979:13–17). In the pursuit of the erotic object and the sun, she
obtains through her erotic Muse a share in beauty and radiance, by means of
which she is continuously renewed and rejuvenated. With the help of the
Muses and what is beautiful, death and old age can be overcome.
Orpheus and the New Part (O) of an Anonymous Lyric Poem
The section that is included in view of its thematic
association, but which is certainly not to be ascribed to Sappho, remains
something of a riddle in its fragmentary condition.
ψιθυροπλόκε δόλιε̣ μύθων
ἐπίβουλε παῖ ⟦β̣οτ̣ο ̣⟧[ ̣] ` ̣ ̣ γε ´ [ ̣ ̣
̣]ακ̣[ ̣ ̣] ̣ [
ἑταῖρε ἀφέρπω̣ : δ[
[ ̣] ̣ ̣ ̣ ̣ ̣ ̣
̣ ̣ ̣ ̣ :(?) ̣ ̣ [
5 [ ̣] ̣ ̣ ν̣ :(?) ἄπν̣ους πρ
[φ]ά̣ο̣ς̣ ἀστέρων τε[
[ ̣] ̣ πᾶς ἀκούω : θ ̣
[γ]ρ̣ου κόρον Ὀρφέα
10 [ἑρ]πετὰ πάντα κ[
[ ̣ ̣] ̣ τὰν ἐρατὰν
[εὔ]φθογγον λύραν ̣ ̣ [
[συ]νεργὸν ἔχοισα π ̣
Chirping-whispering, slander weaving, sly, inventor of
Malicious boy …
friend, I am going
the stars and
[the radiance], the fire-glowing, the
completely I hear.… Oia-
gros’ son Orpheus
10all the animals [and stones]
beguiling [taken up with hands
as help having [completely 
The first editors, Gronewald and Daniel (2005), regarded the text as
belonging to the “erotic theme” (8), particularly given the allusion to
Sappho’s fr. 1 and to Eros at the beginning.Rawles (2006b), on the other
hand, related the text to Hermes because of the epithets, 
and thus to music
and life after death, although these two motifs also constitute an
association with Sappho’s songs. I consider all of these three themes to be
present, which also characterize Sappho: love, self-referential poetic
reflection in relation to music, and notions of life after death. The presence of these motifs supports the
thesis of an anthology that might be composed for performance in symposia or
for recital on other occasions. Love and lamentations, reflections about
music, and general questions about life, old age, death, and the afterlife
are certainly prominent themes here, and when such songs were removed from
their original context, they could have been arranged as extracts according
to these themes.
Gronewald and Daniel (2005:8) structure the anonymous poem as follows: a long
address to a “youth” and “friend” (1–3), a part which speaks of the light of
the stars and the fire-glowing sun (6–7), after which Orpheus is mentioned
(9), to which is added a reference to a woman who plays her lyre as well as
Orpheus did (11–13). The editors emphasize that these lines connect smoothly
with the end (A1, NS 7–8) and the prelude (T.1–2, NS 9–10). Orpheus matches
the motifs in T very closely. He is the mythical musician who crossed the
threshold of death, and with his singing even mesmerized the underworld in
order to win back his beloved. Yet, in spite of his legendary musical skill,
he is doomed to fail, as the conditio
and the poetics of eros
oppose any possibility of success. Following his brutal
death by mutilation, his head, borne on the waves to Lesbos, sings on. The
principles of selection and arrangement of this collection thus consist in
self-referential reflection of the singer and lyre player, the overcoming of
death, erotic pursuit, magical bewitching, the endless postponement of the
unattainable object of desire, sublimation in the continuation of the
personal lament through music even beyond one’s own death, and especially
the Lesbian musical tradition.
The first editors suspected a “change of speaker or singer” (Gronewald and
Daniel 2005:8) on the basis of the two obvious dicola after ἀφέρπω
(3) and ἀκούω
(8); two more in lines 4 and 5 are much less certain. In their opinion (2005:8n5), there would have been both a woman (A) and a
man (B), perhaps Sappho and Phaon, or Sappho and Alkaios (cf. Sappho fr. 137
V.), as in a theatrical dialogue. Maybe Sappho was also performed
dramatically like Homer. A reproaches B and is about to leave, whereupon B
responds with an oath “by the sun (, moon,) and stars” and insists that he
wants to listen. A then begins her song, like Orpheus. Gronewald and Daniel
(2005:8) are nonetheless aware of the dicolon’s ambiguity and note that it
could equally well have been used merely as punctuation, as in the mimetic
poem “The Girl’s Lament” ( P. Grenf.
I 1 = P. Lond. Lit.
50 = P. Dryton
therefore possible to interpret the song as a female solo, while πᾶς
, as the only male form which might appear
to contradict this view, can also be construed as πᾶσ’
. The Fragmentum Grenfellianum
is also relevant in view of its contents, as Gronewald and Daniel
recognised. The parallels considered by Lundon (2007:162–163) and Puglia
(2008) are even more striking. The monologue of an abandoned woman who
addresses herself characterizes both texts. Lundon (2007:162–163) adds as a
further parallel the monody from P. Tebt.
I 1, in
which Helen, left alone by Menelaos, compares the happy past to the present
in a long lament.
Rawles (2006b:9) views the two responses, emphasized through the dicola in
lines 3 and 8, less literally and only as “verbal markers” of a change of
speaker, in the sense of “your turn,” so that one speaker follows the other
antiphonally. In his opinion, the song of the two musicians presents the
mythical history of the lyre from its invention by Hermes to Apollo and
Like Orpheus, who as singer and lyre player par
in the underworld and on earth bewitches everything
with his song, so the girl who embodies Sappho as singer in the Hellenistic
reperformance sings and captivates us, perhaps even as she bewitches Eros or
the beloved youth. Yet even so, through her song she will never obtain the
object of her desire; rather, love finds its expression only in the form of
a lament. Eros is needed in order to inspire others to dance or to charm
them through the musical performance. The singer is dead, or at least feels
herself to be, yet continues to sing of love, just as Orpheus and Sappho
did. Death can be associated in turn with old age. Through song and her
focus on the cosmos, she will again become young.
The mention of Orpheus lends additional confirmation to the metapoetic and
self-referential reading of Sappho’s new poem T. The girl in O almost
becomes a Muse, who in a context of cosmic choral singing attains
immortality in harmony with the planets, and much the same occurs with
Sappho. Death, night, lament, love, song, music, and the cosmos—in short,
all that Orphism represents—are the decisive themes that unite the
Orpheus embraces in his cosmogonies above all the construction of harmony,
resolution of conflict, and a balancing of opposites. On the other hand,
lamentation and loss are prominent in the erotic poetics.
The deferral of love becomes its own song in the interruption and
continuation of a reperformance. It is only in the anthological combination
that a unity occurs which makes Eros dependent upon the artistic production
of song. Even the interest in a further existence in the afterlife, which is
usually the object of the mystery cults, is associated with the projection
of the continued performance of music in the afterlife. The original
pedagogical-didactic reception gives way to a secondary reception,
determined by the circumstances of usage in the context of a Hellenistic
cult of poets. Cyclical rejuvenation and the erotic poetics of absence and
insatiability are reflected in the new, repeated practice of performance. Sappho and her song have lived on indeed, even until they have reached us
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The papyrus can be viewed as a high-resolution image at
Earlier versions of this paper were presented in Cambridge UK on 18 June
2008 and in Oxford on 20 June 2008 at the Core Group Conference of the
Network for the Study of Archaic and Classical Greek Song; a longer
German version was first published in 2009 as “Der neue Sappho-Papyrus
aus Köln und Sapphos Erneuerung. Virtuelle Choralität, Eros, Tod,
Orpheus und Musik” in electronic form on the CHS-website,
http://chs.harvard.edu, under Online Publications). See also
Yatromanolakis 2008a and the papers assembled in Greene and Skinner
2009. What I say about contexts of reperformance is mostly in agreement
with Yatromanolakis 2008a, Boedeker 2005 and 2009, Lardinois 2009, Nagy
See Puglia 2007.
Gronewald and Daniel 2004a, 2004b, 2005. See now the overview based on
the recent research by Gronewald and Daniel 2007a, 2007b, Yatromanolakis
2008a, and the first monograph as a collection of essays by Greene and
See also Boedeker 2005, Yatromanolakis 2008a, 2009b:220–225, Boedeker
2009:esp. 72-76, Lardinois 2009:esp. 47–48, Nagy 2009.
See Yatromanolakis 2008a:245–247; for the skolia see Yatromanolakis
2009c:270–275. On the symposium see Yatromanolakis 2009a.
See now Power 2010.
Gentili 2006a:37–72, esp. 37–49. See also Yatromanolakis
See Hardie 2005:esp. 29–32.
See e.g. Sappho fr. 22.11, 156; Pindar fr. 125; and West 1992:71–72.
See Poseidippus fr. 55.2 B.-A. Σα‹π›φώιους ἐξ
ὀά‹ρ›ων ὀάρους , “love songs by Sappho, which flow out of
one another and continue themselves.” See Nagy 2009:187.
Gallavotti 1962:113, Di Benedetto 1985:147.
Di Benedetto 2004, 2006:9–11; Luppe 2004; West 2005; Janko 2005;
Bernsdorff 2004, 2005; Geissler 2005; Hardie 2005:13n3, 28–29; Radke
2006; Rawles 2006a; Austin 2007; Steinrück 2007.
Gronewald and Daniel 2004a, Puelma and Angiò 2005, Magnani 2005:43,
Latacz 2005, Edmunds 2006, Livrea 2007:69–70, Burzacchini 2007:102–110,
Lardinois 2009, Edmunds 2009.
Nagy 2009:186. See already Boedeker 2005 and Boedeker 2009 (she even
speaks about “Sapphic mouvance ” [72–76]), Lardinois
2009:48, and now Yatromanolakis 2008a.
On anthologies that contain excerpts from poems, see the examples given
by Lundon 2007:160n52 and Yatromanolakis 2008a:248–250. For the
technique of borrowing, adaptation, and anthologizing in archaic
performance composition, see Gentili 1984:64–66 (= 2006b:79–81), with
the summary: “Una tecnica di tipo associativo o antologico che
permetteva di riutilizzare testi già pronti, appartenenti al repertorio
tradizionale o composti dal poeta stesso per altre analoghe occasioni”
(1984:66 = 2006b:81; in English, Gentili 1988:49).
On the performance of Sappho in the symposium, see Plutarch Quaestiones conviviales 1.622c, 7.711d; Aulus
Gellius Noctes Atticae 19.9.3–4. On earlier,
visual sources see Yatromanolakis 2007:esp. 51–164.
So also now Puglia 2008:16–17. On two possibilities of reconstruction see
also Yatromanolakis 2008a:252–254.
For the Hellenistic features of this poem, see now Clayman 2009.
On the priamel fragment, I refer to my more detailed discussion: Bierl
See here Bierl 2001 (in English, Bierl 2009).
On the possibility of an actual performance by a chorus, for example of
fr. 16, 31, and 96, see Lardinois 1996:169–170. On Sappho generally as a
chorus leader, see Calame 1977a:127, 369–370 (in English, Calame
1997:65, 212); Lardinois 1994:esp. 73n61; contra: Parker 1993:331–333.
On the chorus as the social context of initiation, see e.g. Calame
1977a:385–420 (in English, Calame 1997:221–244) and Bierl 2001 (in
English, Bierl 2009):Index s.v. “Erziehung” und “ παιδεία .” On the chorus in Sappho, cf. Bierl
2003:118n100–101 and fr. 16.17–18, fr. 24a(?), fr. 44, fr. 94.27(?), fr.
On the choral elements of fr. 58, see West 2005, Di Benedetto
1985:148–149, Lardinois 1996:169 (she sings, as the chorus dances); see
also Hardie 2005:esp. 27–32, Lardinois 2009.
On Sappho’s circle, see Merkelbach 1957, and now Gentili and Catenacci
On fr. 16, see Bierl 2003.
On the (proto-)philosophical in Sappho, esp. in fr. 16, see duBois
1995:77–97, 98–126, esp. 101, 105–115. See now on fr. 58, Greene
See Bierl 2003. On Panhellenism, see now Mitchell 2007.
On the transition to “literature’ from the perspective of fr. 31, see
Rösler 1990:esp. 271–272, 285–286 and Bierl 2003:122–123, with reference
to fr. 16.
Here I heavily depend on the concept and the diction of Yatromanolakis
2007. On “interdiscursivity” see Yatromanolakis/Roilos 2003,
Yatromanolakis 2003 and 2008b. But see now the separate discussion in
See Lardinois 1989, Parker 1993:esp. 309–315, 321–331; on implications
for the modern reception of Sappho see Glei 1993, Calder 1986.
See Martini and Hügli 1980.
Among others, see Winkler 1981, Parker 1993, duBois 1995, most of the
contributions in Greene 1996a, Williamson 1995, Wilson 1996, Stehle
1997:262–318; against this neoliberal, feminist approach, see Calame
1998, Bierl 2003, Gentili and Catenacci 2007.
Text by Gronewald and Daniel 2004a:2, 4–5, and Gronewald and Daniel
Cf. fr. 16 incert. (Sappho or Alkaios) L-P: Κρῆσσαί νύ ποτ’ ὦδ’ ἐμμελέως πόδεσσιν / ὤρχηντ’ ἀπάλοισ’ ἀμφ’
ἐρόεντα βῶμον , where the feet in the dance are described
as nimble; similarly Hesiod Theogony 3–4, in
the appeal to the Muses. The adjektive ἄπαλος thus belongs in the context of the chorus.
Edmunds 2006. On the mythical example, see now Edmunds 2009.
On this aspect as well as the subject of rejuvenation, see Nagy
1990:226–262, esp. 260–262, to whom Gronewald and Daniel also refer
(2004a:3). Cf. also Nagy 2009.
See above all the famous painting of the pursuit of Tithonos by Eos on
the red-figure oinokhoē by the
Achilles painter (470–460 bc), found in Vulci (Louvre, G438).
See Bierl 2003:108n60, 111n74 for further literature.
See Alcman fr. 1.87 Davies (cf. also her possibly additional name of
Orthria, verse 61), and Calame 1977b:122–127.
On fr. 16 and Helen, see Bierl 2003:106–111.
On Aia (and Aiaia) as the country of Eos, see West 2007.
With Eos: Sappho fr. 103, 123, 157, possibly 6; with Aphrodite: among
others, Sappho fr. 1, 2; on the jump from the Leucadian cliffs, T 23
Campbell = Strabo 10.2.9. On the parallelism Eos-Aphrodite, see Nagy
Nagy 1990:260–262, 2009; cf. also Gronewald and Daniel 2004a:3, Nagy
Bierl 2001 (in English, Bierl 2009):Index s.vv. “Chor/sozialer Ort der
Altersgenossinnen vor der Ehe”, “Erziehung”, “ παιδεία .” On Sappho, see Calame 1977a:400–404 (in
English, Calame 1997:231–233), Ingalls 2000:12–14, Bierl 2003:100–123,
Hardie 2005:16, 27–32.
See also Geissler 2005:109–111, Rawles 2006a:4–7.
Thus, Sappho’s “emphatic response ‘Nonetheless!’” that Latacz 2005
believes he can find in these lines is not warranted; similarly
Preisshofen 1977:56–64, esp. 64; Meyerhoff 1984:187–198, esp. 194–196;
Falkner 1995:102–107; Tsomis 2001:247–250, esp. 249. All of these
interpretations assume that the last four lines of fr. 58 V., which are
missing in the Cologne papyrus, belong to this poem.
For this reason, Schadewaldt’s biographical interpretation (1950:157–161)
is misplaced: “Sappho ist alt geworden, jedenfalls so alt, daß sie, die
so an Anmut und Jugend hing, die Dunkelheiten des Alters sehr empfand.
Sie trauerte darüber in einigen ihrer Lieder…” (157).
Plato To the Muses = Anthologia Palatina 9.506, Antipater of Sidon fr. 12
Gow-Page = Anthologia Palatina 9.66; cf. the anonymous author of
Anthologia Palatina 9.571 and Gosetti-Murrayjohn 2006.
Anthologia Palatina 9.189 (anonymous). Cf. also Battezzato 2003:esp.
Di Benedetto 1985:157. On Tithonos, cf. Mimnermos fr. 4 W. = 1 Gow-Page,
The left margin of P. Oxy. 1787, fr. 1 is lost,
but for fr. 2, partially preserved. Here, there are traces of two
paragraphoi after line 1 (= fr. 58.26 V.) and line 3 (= fr. 59.2 V.).
There are no palaeographical remains of a coronis. Lobel 1925:26
introduces one; Lobel and Page (= L-P) 1963:42 place it in brackets (as
a reconstructed lacuna); in Voigt (= V.) 1971:78 it appears again
without brackets. Cf. Burzacchini 2007:102–104, who concludes correctly
that, in view of the condition of the material, the question remains
open (104). West 2005:3–4 justifies the separation of the coda on the
grounds that there is no coronis—admittedly, the left margin of fr. 2 of
P. Oxy. 1787 is so damaged that no certain interpretation is
possible—and joins the verses to fr. 59 V. (= P. Oxy. 1787, fr. 2.2–4), thus forming a longer, but still
fragmentary, poem (7–9). He is followed by Austin 2007:120.
So also Schadewaldt 1950:161, Preisshofen 1977:61.
Kurke 1992 interprets the word ἀβροσύνα
(Attic ἁβροσύνη) not merely in material but
also in political terms, in the sense of an aristocratic oriental
luxury; on our passage, 1992:93–99. Maehler’s definition (1963:61) is
comprehensive: “Die Gesamtheit der Werte, die sie in der Gemeinschaft
mit ihren Mädchen pflegte.” On ἄβρος,
Sappho fr. 2.14 (Aphrodite), 128 (Charites), 44.7 (Andromache as bride),
140.1 (Adonis), 100 (cloth).
On this poetics, see Yatromanolakis’s interpretation of the red-figure
kalyx bowl of the Tithonus painter, 480–470 bc (Bochum,
Ruhr-Universität, Kunstsammlungen, Inv. S 508), where on one side Sappho
with a garment pursues a girl (with the inscription ΗΕ ΠΑΙΣ ). Cf. Yatromanolakis 2001, 2005,
2007:88–110. On the New Sappho, see Yatromanolakis 2007:203–205,
360n341. See also Nagy 2007:233–265, 2009:183–195.
I distance myself here decidedly from Böhme 1970:esp. 143–163 (with
numerous, definitely imaginative examples of motifs): e.g. he associates
(148) fr. 58 with the imagery of cicadas and their light-toned song
( λιγυρὴν ̣... ἀοιδὴν 582), as
described by Hesiod (Works and Days 582–584) with λιγυρὰν χελύνναν (T.2). Turyn (1942:esp.
313–318) had already associated Sappho with Orphism, and combined the
description of the locus amoenus on
the Florentine ostracon, Sappho fr. 2 V., with notions of paradise in
Orphic eschatology, which in his opinion Sappho drew from Orpheus’ poem
Κατάβασις εἰς Ἅιδου . Hardie 2005
presents concepts derived from Orphism similar to those offered here.
See the leaf from Petelia, c. 350 bc, 476 Bernabé, lines 6–7: “A child of
the earth am I and of the starry heavens / but I have a divine descent
…”; cf. similarly the Thessalian lamella of unknown provenance 484
Bernabé, lines 3–4, and the leaf from Pharsalos 477 Bernabé, lines 8–9
(where the second part is replaced by “my name is ‘star-like,’” Asterios ). On the first part, see the
lamellae from Rethymnon 484a Bernabé, line 3; from Mylopotamos 481
Bernabé, line 3; from Eleutherna 478, 479, 480, 482, 483 Bernabé, line
3; and from Hipponion 474 Bernabé, line 10.
See e.g. Most 1997; West 1997; Tsantsanoglou 1997:98–99, 117; Betegh
2004:esp. 349–372. Cf. Bierl (in press).
Fr. 211c = Pliny Natural History 22.20 (on sea
holly, Eryngium maritimum ): portentosum est quod de ea (sc. erynge ) traditur, radicem eius alterutrius sexus similitudinem referre,
raro inventu, sed si viris contigerit mas, amabilis fieri; ob hoc et
Phaonem Lesbium dilectum a Sappho. According to this
story, Phaon became particularly attractive sexually because he found a
root of sea holly which resembled the phallus, and thus Sappho fell so
deeply in love with him.
On the notion of the vision of the sun as the expression of life, see
Iliad 24.558, Sappho fr. 56. The indirect source of Clearchus (fr. 41
Wehrli), preserved by Athenaeus 15.687b, where the quotation occurs, has
as explanation of “love of the sun” ἡ τοῦ ζῆν
Lardinois 2009:51–53; he situates the song in the context of the wedding,
where Sappho playfully contrasts herself with the youthful bloom of the
bride and the groom. At the same time, it perhaps contains a warning for
the happy pair, that they, too, will one day become old.
Text (= P. Köln col. II, 9–21) and translation,
with slight changes, following Gronewald and Daniel 2005:9 and 2007b:16.
On the fragment, see also Rawles 2006b, Lundon 2007:esp. 154–166, Puglia
ψιθυριστής Demosthenes 59.39; δόλιος Aristophanes Thesmophoriazousai 1202.
CA 177–180 Powell. A new critical edition by Esposito has appeared, which
refers to this fragment (2005:11, 61, 101, 105, 111, 123).
Puglia 2008 also accepts this possibility and attempts a purely monodic
Di Benedetto 2005:12–13 assumes that the story of Eurydice is mentioned
in A2, the section preceding T in fr. P. Oxy.
1787, of which little is extant. Admittedly, we can only speculate about
the context by means of the reconstructed forms φ]ύ̣γοισα̣ and δάχθην
(fr. 58.5–6). He also perceives in the few letters of fr. 58.7 a
reference to Orpheus’ mother Calliope ( [Κ]αλλ[ιόπα ).