Five Fascinating Facts about Sappho

Interesting Literature

Interesting trivia about the original ‘Lesbian poet’

1. Sappho has been credited with inventing the plectrum. An Athenian vase dating from the sixth century BC shows Sappho holding a lyre, which she is plucking with a small device that is recognisable as the forerunner to the modern plectrum. Did she invent it? Historians are unsure, but it appears that Sappho was using a plectrum to pluck the strings at a time when everyone else was happy to pluck the strings of the lyre.

2. Hardly any of Sappho’s work survives. Sappho is known to have written some nine volumes of poetry, but very little of her work was preserved. Some have blamed this on the activities of the medieval Church, which sought to suppress works which were pagan and, what’s more, often probably quite sexy. Sappho is, after all, the poet who inspired the word ‘lesbian’ for a woman who…

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