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Diane J. Raynor and André Lardinois Sappho: A New Translation of the Complete Works. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014. [Review Article]

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posted on 2017-05-23, 10:20 authored by Siobhan Hodge
Sappho was born over two thousand years ago, but we are still disputing almost everything we know about her. An aristocrat from the isle of Lesbos, Sappho was celebrated for her poetic prowess both during her own lifetime and beyond. She has been conscripted into a variety of roles throughout
her chequered reception in different time periods and places: cast as a dutiful wife and mother; a charismatic cult leader; a moralistic educator of young women, celebrating music, poetry and dance, as well as all things beautiful; and an outspoken lesbian outcast. These prevailing views have
developed according to fashionable social beliefs of the times surrounding the rights and roles of women, and so too have particular translations of the poet cycled in and out of favour. Overly embellished versions produced in the eighteenth century by translators such as John Addison, Ambrose Philips, Francis Fawkes, and Edward Barnaby Greene read as almost laughably inaccurate today.


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