Sappho (Σαπφώ) was a Hellenic lyric poet, born on the island of Lesbos (Λέσβος) around 620 BC, although the exact date is unknown. She wrote beautiful and highly romantic poetry that comes and goes straight to the heart. One of my favorite hymns is by her: the Hymn to Aphrodite. Yesterday, I got sent a 2010 interview by Peter Camarda, who interviews the late local SF writer/philosopher/activist Arthur Evans. A large part of the interview centers around a reading of Sappho's hymn to Aphrodite, in both english and ancient Greek. The discussion about the hymn is also very interesting, so for anyone interested in ancient Hellas, Sappho, and poetry, this is a must see. I have also included my favorite translation of the hymn below. Enjoy!
"Iridescent-throned Aphrodite, deathless
Child of Zeus, wile-weaver, I now implore you,
Don't--I beg you, Lady--with pains and torments
Crush down my spirit,
But before if ever you've heard my pleadings
Then return, as once when you left your father's
Golden house; you yoked to your shining car your
Skimming down the paths of the sky's bright ether
On they brought you over the earth's black bosom,
Swiftly--then you stood with a sudden brilliance,
Goddess, before me;
Deathless face alight with your smile, you asked me
What I suffered, who was my cause of anguish,
What would ease the pain of my frantic mind, and
Why had I called you
To my side: "And whom should Persuasion summon
Here, to soothe the sting of your passion this time?
Who is now abusing you, Sappho? Who is
Treating you cruelly?
Now she runs away, but she'll soon pursue you;
Gifts she now rejects--soon enough she'll give them;
Now she doesn't love you, but soon her heart will
Burn, though unwilling."
Come to me once more, and abate my torment;
Take the bitter care from my mind, and give me
All I long for; Lady, in all my battles
Fight as my comrade."