Sappho’s Love

Describe how Plato, Sappho, and/or Catullus conceive of love (and/or friendship). You can choose to only discuss one of the three works or compare two or three of them. You can also choose to compare their views on love with The Odyssey, Oedipus Rex, or Lysistrata. You can also choose to focus more specifically on either the lover or the beloved if you like.

Sappho’s concept of love is extremely emotional and powerful. To Sappho, love is not a science, a weakness nor a triviality – love is the force that drives the human spirit; the sole emotion upon which all of life’s meaning is based upon. For example in Poem 16, Sappho (through Anne Carson’s translation), writes, ” Some men say an army of horse and some men say an army on foot…is the most beautiful thing…But i say it is what you love.” Although the words are simple, they are highly evocative of the high status she puts the emotion love upon. In the same poem, she later writes, “I would rather see her lovely step and the motion of light on her face than chariots of Lydius’ or ranks of footsoldiers in arms.” In those days, military might was highly prized in Greek society, which shows just how strongly Sappho believes in love. Her tone, her description, and her words all show that Sappho was a true romantic.

3 thoughts on “Sappho’s Love

  1. Yea I agree with what you are saying. Sappho concept of love is one that involves deep uncontrollable emotions. Plenty of times in her poems you see that the women are filled up with such strong emotions that it dictates their actions. Love is something that can be a very good or very bad thing.

  2. Your entire response is thoughtful, but the opening is especially strong because you articulate an important point about Sappho: that to her, passionate love (I’m not sure that for her there is any other kind) is central to the human experience or very near to it.

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