Poem Analysis: Sappho's Love

489 Words2 Pages
Arvinth Sethuraman
HSS-1-C
Prof. Stieber
Sappho's Love Sappho, one of the only female poets of ancient Greece able to parallel the fame of the males of her time, writes “fr. 16” as an essential anachronism, detailing the importance of affection within society. Throughout her work, Sappho also raises questions about love. Who can be loved? How powerful is love? Sappho generates a transcendental definition of love through her use of allusions as seen in the translations of her work by both Fowler and West. Both Fowler and West concur upon a liberal and loose definition of love based on Sappho's original Aeolic fragment. Fowler introduces Sappho's poem through an immediate definition of the boundaries of love: A host of horsemen, some say,
…show more content…
(Fowler 1 - 4)
Moreover, West introduces his translation in a similar style: Some think a fleet, a troop of horse or soldiery the finest sight in all the world; but I say what one loves. (West 1 - 3)
Sappho alludes to three divisions of the army, the cavalry, the navy and the foot-soldiers, showing that war can also be loved, to express her broad definition of love, not strictly between two people but between two entities. By diversifying the context of love, she morphs its meaning from a basely sexual desire into a priceless connection between two soulmates. Sappho then references The Iliad in order to exemplify the power of love, a topic of conflict for the two translators. Fowler approaches the translation from a mythological perspective, personifying love as its goddess, Aphrodite: … Helen, abandoned her spouse, a very noble man, and went sailing off to Troy and gave no thought at all to her child or her beloved parents, but Aphrodite led her slightly astray … (Fowler 7 – 11)
Whereas West takes a more direct approach with an explicit statement: … Helen, having a man of the best, deserted him, and sailed to
Open Document