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Friday, 30 September 2011 18:03

Sappho Was One of Nine Greek Lyric Poets - Who Were the Others?

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Dear Sappho,

I know that Sappho was an Ancient Greek poet from the island of Lesbos. She was one of a canon of nine Greek lyric poets. Lyric poetry is a form of poetry that expresses personal and emotional feelings. In the ancient world, lyric poems were played to the lyre. Today Lyric poems don't have to rhyme or need to be set to music. Most of her poetry, which was well known and greatly admired throughout antiquity, has been lost, or destroyed. What I don't know is the other lyric poets in the cannon.

Lesbian Poet

Dear Lesbian Poet,

The Canon comprising the Nine Lyric Poets of Ancient Greece were considered worthy of critical study and acclaim. Ancient scholars defined the genre lyric poetry based on the metrical form, not the content. Of these, Sappho is the one most remembered and beloved. Sappho's work has mostly been destroyed by fundamentalists or lost over the centuries. She wrote poems for weddings, funerals, and of course, for her lovers. In the ancient world she was revered as a lyric poet who also wrote erotic poems.

Blazing with tenderness for the women she adored, we can still see and feel the erotic intent and passion in the fragments that survive. The poems may have been destroyed for their erotic intent as much as for their homosexual nature. However Sappho remains secure in her reputation and fame thousands of years later in spite of being at the mercy of her translators, just as she predicted she would.

Here is the list of the nine ancient revered lyric poets:

1. Alcman (choral lyric, seventh century BC) of Sparta

2. Sappho (monodic lyric, c. 600 BC) of Lesbos

3. Alcaeus (monodic lyric, c. 600 BC) of Lesbos

4. Anacreon (monodic lyric, sixth century BC) of Teos

5. Stesichorus (choral lyric, sixth century BC) of Himera

6. Ibycus (choral lyric, sixth century BC) of Rhegium

7. Simonides (choral lyric, sixth century BC) of Ceos

8. Bacchylides (choral lyric, fifth century BC) of Ceos

9. Pindar (choral lyric, fifth century BC) of Thebes

Poetry Lives!




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