Sappho and Transcendence Through Poetry

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How many famous women would you say you know from the ancient times? You could probably count them on the fingers on one of your hands.

It isn’t an accusation, nor is it an attempt to make you ignorant; it’s just painstaking reality of how little we know of women from the ancient times and beyond. History cares little for the success of women, and it’s usually the men who get all the attention. It’s a terrible reality that will take us forever to rectify.

That’s one of the many reasons why most people wouldn’t know to explain who Sappho is, but they certainly could say who Plato is. It is Plato who cited Sappho in his works, as did many other famous men from Ancient Greece.

As much as Homer is known as The Poet, she is often called The Poetess or the tenth Muse. 

Transcending the Mortal Realm

Sappho lived during the bridge between two periods – the Archaic and the Classical Period – the two periods of Ancient Greece when most of what we all know of Ancient Greek art was born.

While a great many men are known from those ages, including their work, we, unfortunately, can’t say the same for Sappho, yet we do know that she is as vital for Greek art as Homer is.

Everything we know of her life and work has been put together from many fragments. The fragments are so many and so hard to piece together that there are historians who are not even sure that her poetry is her own. There’s not enough evidence to be 100% certain.

However, we still have to remember her. She was born on the island of Lesbos and often described as one of the first lesbians, but there is not enough proof for that. 

But her sexuality doesn’t matter. What matters is her poetry – the only thing that has enabled her to transcend reality and time. 

Her poetry is that of love and passion. Love for men and love for women. It’s often accompanied by a lyre, which is why most of her writings characterize as lyrical poetry. Even though most if not all of her poets haven’t survived whole. However, in our opinion, that speaks further volumes of her brilliance – her works are genuinely respected even though they are not whole. 

Only one of her poems has survived in its entirety – the Ode to Aphrodite. The rest of what was found from her work is in Mary Barnard’s translations.  

Even though much on her is lost, we can safely say that many remember, her work still influences many, and many are yet to come. In that sense, she has genuinely transcended life.

In her own words: “You may forget but let me tell you this: someone in some future time will think of us.”

We do; Sappho - some 2,600 years later, and we will for many more millennia.  

We hope that Sappho can inspire you to strive to transcend the world and inspire others. We need more love in all its forms to bring about happiness for everyone. 

If you want to get inspired by other futurists, join us at the next World Happiness Agora and let’s work together towards bringing about a better future for all of humanity.