We are pleased to share the news that CHS is broadcasting to the public a live stream of events from SapphoFest 2015, to be held on Friday, December 11–Saturday, December 12. Please follow this link to Kleos@CHS for further details.

Recent posts at Classical Inquiries have featured translations by Gregory Nagy of the newest Sappho poems and fragments. Here is a selection.

Sappho Song 1.3–4

|3 Do not dominate with hurts [asai] and pains [oniai], |4 O Queen [potnia], my heart [thūmos].

Sappho Song 5.1–11

|1 O Queen Nereids, unharmed [ablabēs] |2 may my brother, please grant it, arrive to me here [tuide], |3 and whatever thing he wants in his heart [thūmos] to happen, |4 let that thing be fulfilled [telesthēn]. |5 And however many mistakes he made in the past, undo them all. |6 Let him become a joy [kharā] to those who are near-and-dear [philoi] to him, |7 and let him be a pain [oniā] to those who are enemies [ekhthroi]. As for us, |8 may we have no enemies, not a single one. |9 But may he wish to make his sister [kasignētā] |10 worthy of more honor [tīmā]. |11 The catastrophic [lugrā] pain [oniā] … in the past, he was feeling sorrow [akheuōn]… .

Sappho Song 9

… Don’t you have the resources for me to be able, Mother, to celebrate [teleîn] at the right season [ōrā] the festival [eortā], which is a delight [kharma] for [us] mortals, creatures of the day that we are?

Sappho Song 17.1–16

|1 Close by, …, |2 O Queen [potnia] Hera, … your […] festival [eortā], |3 which, vowed-in-prayer [arâsthai], the Sons of Atreus did arrange [poieîn] |4 for you, 29 kings that they were, |5 after first having completed [ek-teleîn] great labors [aethloi], |6 around Troy, and, next [apseron], |7 after having set forth to come here [tuide], since finding the way |8 was not possible for them |9 until they would approach you (Hera) and Zeus lord of suppliants [antiaos] |10 and (Dionysus) the lovely son of Thyone. |11 And now [nun de] we are arranging [poieîn] [the festival], |12 in accordance with the ancient way […] |13 holy [agna] and […] a throng [okhlos] |14 of girls [parthenoi] […] and women [gunaikes] |15 on either side … |16 the measured sound of ululation [ololūgā].

Sappho Song 26.11–12

|11 And I—aware of my own self—|12 I know this.

Sappho “Tithonos Song”

|1 [. . .] gifts of [the Muses], whose contours are adorned with violets, [I tell you] girls [paides] |2 [. . .] the clear-sounding song-loving lyre. |3 [. . .] skin that was once tender is now [ravaged] by old age [gēras], |4 [. . .] hair that was once black has turned (gray). |5 The throbbing of my heart is heavy, and my knees cannot carry me |6 —(those knees) that were once so nimble for dancing like fawns. |7 I cry and cry about those things, over and over again. But what can I do? |8 To become ageless [a-gēra-os] for someone who is mortal is impossible to achieve. |9 Why, even Tithonos once upon a time, they said, was taken by the dawn-goddess [Eos], with her rosy arms |10 —she felt [. . .] passionate love [eros] for him, and off she went, carrying him to the ends of the earth, |11 so beautiful [kalos] he was and young [neos], but, all the same, he was seized |12 in the fullness of time by gray old age [gēras], even though he shared the bed of an immortal female. |13 [. . .] |14 [. . .] |15 But I love delicacy [(h)abrosunē] [. . .] this, |16 and passionate love [erōs] for the Sun has won for me its radiance [tò lampron] and beauty [tò kalon].

Sappho “Brothers Song”

… |5 But you are always saying, in a chattering way [thruleîn], that Kharaxos will come |6 in a ship full of goods. These things I think Zeus |7 knows, and so also do all the gods. But you shouldn’t have |8 these things on your mind. |9 Instead, send [pempein] me off and instruct [kelesthai] me |10 to implore [lissesthai] Queen Hera over and over again [polla] |11 that he should come back here [tuide] bringing back [agein] safely |12 his ship, I mean Kharaxos, |13 and that he should find us unharmed. As for everything else, |14 let us leave it to the superhuman powers [daimones], |15 since bright skies after great storms |16 can happen quickly. |17 Those mortals, whoever they are, |18 whom the king of Olympus wishes |18 to rescue from their pains [ponoi] by sending as a long-awaited helper a superhuman force [daimōn] |19 to steer them away from such pains—those mortals are blessed [makares] |20 and have great bliss [olbos]. |21 We too, if he ever gets to lift his head up high, |22 I mean, Larikhos, and finally mans up, |23 will get past the many cares that weigh heavily on our heart, |24 breaking free from them just as quickly.

Sappho Kypris Song 1–6

1 How can someone not be hurt [= asâsthai, verb of the noun asā ‘hurt’] over and over again, |2 O Queen Kypris [Aphrodite], whenever one loves [phileîn] whatever person |3 and wishes very much not to let go of the passion? |4 [What kind of purpose] do you have |5 [in mind], uncaringly rending me apart |6 in my [desire] as my knees buckle?

Further reading

For further details about these translations and more, please refer to Classical Inquiries. This link will take you to a selection of posts relating to Sappho.

Gregory Nagy’s articles on Sappho are available at the CHS website, including:

Also available on the CHS website are publications with relevance to Sappho. These include:

Members can discuss the poetry of Sappho, related publications and articles, or their impressions of the SapphoFest, in the Forum.

Image credit

Detail from Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, Sappho and Alcaeus, The Walters Art Museum, Creative Commons license,