CLA160H1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 3: Sapphic Stanza, Choral Poetry, Occasional Poetry

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Published on 26 Jan 2013
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CLA160 Week 3 Tutorial Notes
Lyric Poetry
- more personal
- more condensed – small excerpts could be read without knowing the larger
story
- more expressive – mythological references apply to personal beliefs – epics
are more about telling myths and legends
- context is different from epics – epic is large public recitation – lyric is either
symposiastic or occasional poetry
- occasional poetry – at weddings, funerals, etc. – for specific occasions
- different meter than epic poetry
- choral poetry – choral context of lyric poetry can occur
- not much lyric poetry text survival
- nine great lyric poets – Sappho is one of them – even in ancient Greece,
Sappho was considered great
- Library of Alexandria – great librarians and poets come together under Greek
king – Apollonius of Rhodes, a great poet and librarian
- librarians – the first to class poets, composed list of nine great lyric poets
- significance of nine – there are nine Muses
- librarians were the first to divide The Iliad and The Odyssey into books
- Theognis writes in a specific meter – elegiac couplets
- elegiac couplets – first line had the same metrical form as epics
- Sappho varies the meters used in her poetry – creates Sapphic meter
Sappho
- approach her biographies with slight skepticism
- lived on the island of Lesbos, perhaps around 620 B.C.
- lived in the same time as Alcaeus – he refers to her in his poetry as well
- even in ancient world – reputation of being a lover of women
- ambiguous information in her poetry
- “daughter” Kleis – perhaps not her daughter, but just a girl she knew –
uncertain
- not much of Sappho’s poetry survives
- only one complete poem by Sappho survives- quoted in the first century B.C.
- recent discovery of a new Sappho poem – on papyrus
- Greek poems also written on mummy wrappings
- ancient Greeks spoke in different dialects – this is one way to attribute
certain poems to poets – also look for style
- perhaps the reason for the lack of survival of Sappho’s poetry is due to the
obscure dialect she used in her poetry – very few poets used the same dialect
as she
- manuscript tradition – recopying by monks in 13th/14th century A.D. in the
Middle Ages in Europe
- due to the inability to understand the dialect, it was difficult to recopy
Sappho’s poetry
- main theme of Sappho is to speak of unattainable love
- mortality – aging of men and women – story about Dawn and her lover
- last poem also refers to choral dancing
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