Introductory Seminars for First-Year Students
Sappho: Erotic Poetess of Lesbos
Sappho, the archaic poet from the Greek island of Lesbos, has probably been the most influential female poet in Western civilization, although her life remains an intriguing enigma. In this class, we will read all of Sappho's surviving fragments in English and discuss all aspects of her poetry as well as the traditions referring to, or fantasizing about, her much-disputed life. We will examine the various ways in which Sappho's poetry and legend have inspired not only female authors but also great male poets such as Swinburne, Baudelaire, and Pound. We will see and analyze the many paintings inspired by Sappho in both ancient and modern times, and will listen to the various composers who attempted to put her poetry into music. We will also investigate the rich heritage of writings concerning Sappho and her circle, from ancient to contemporary times, focusing on those periods when scholars have debated the interpretation of her poetry. No previous knowledge of Greek poetry or culture is required.