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 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,