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Customer Review

16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Lady Dawn, June 11, 2009
This review is from: Greek Lyric: Sappho and Alcaeus (Loeb Classical Library No. 142) (Volume I) (Hardcover)
The main interest in Loeb Classical Library's Greek Lyric I is Sappho. Identified with the city of Mytilene, on the isle of Lesbos, ca. 7th - 6th centuries B.C., Sappho exemplified, for the ancient Greek and Roman critics (e.g., Ovid, Catullus, Longinus, Plutarch), consummate skill in the craft of poetry--especially with her ability to deploy the Greek language (within the ancient Aeolic dialect) for the most subtle musical/meterical effects and thrilling invocations. Her peers are only the greatest of love poets. What Aristotle says of Sophocles applies equally to Sappho: She has only to name the nightingale and she sings. With one exception, her poetry exists for us only in the briefest of quotations, often no more than half a line here, half a word there-- but these are sufficient to document her greatness. It were worth studying Greek so as to enjoy her very words. The translation is fairly literal, but do read the Greek text aloud and thereby relish the compression of her language and the music of her song (ah, the genius of ancient Greek-- so seductive that the rabbis of old forbade the study of Greek until the scholar had attained the years of prudence, i.e., 40+). Essential to any library for gentle-folk. Let me add that at least three great achievements in poetry come to us from the eastern Mediterranean--Homer, Sappho, and King David. The poetry of these three wordsmiths is, first, to be sung, or incanted, with instrumental acompaniment. And, while translations are often splendid (especially with Psalms, or Tehillim), yet each poet bends the words to his/her will (to paraphrase Luther's appreciation of J Des Prez).
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: May 31, 2011 9:16:45 AM PDT
bukhtan says:
The old rabbonim thought they had problems. What's worse: Greek poetry or television? Energetic tykes, to go to all that trouble in order to get into trouble.

Posted on Aug 9, 2012 3:07:43 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 9, 2012 3:08:17 AM PDT
. says:
What does "the rabbis of old" have to do with Sappho? Her fragments are of Aeolic Greek and that's why the ancient world forgot about Sappho, her works no longer became studied etc when that accent was nothing but a memory. By the way she lived long before these men, if your definition of "rabbis of old" include the compilers of the Mishnah and Talmud. What's more likely is that "the rabbis of old" never heard of Sappho at all - nor would they have cared.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 9, 2012 7:09:16 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 9, 2012 7:30:53 AM PDT
Old Dog says:
My review touches on the sirenic potency of the Greek language. I mention the sages of old in respect only to their cautionary appreciation of the ancient Greek language. By the way, as to Sappho's relevance, apparently you are reading Sappho--as are many other folks these days Again, as I pointed out, to the ancients she was a master poet; to the moderns, she is "burning Sappho." There are recent translations. By the way, how many words of Greek origin appear in the Talmud? Are you josting with windmills? Or just police-ing the intellectual streets?

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 9, 2012 8:04:11 AM PDT
. says:
Dear Old Dog,

I find it interesting that you try to make a connection between the "Sages of Old" and Sappho, because honestly I would have learned if the old Rabbis (which date in history would you prefer here?) had made a comment on Sappho. They obviously have not...and could not have since they lived long after her poems were turned into fragments. Also, most "sages" thought Judaism and Hellenism was a "clash of civilizations" and would not been interested Sappho's poetry. I guess there are plenty of Greek and Latin loan words in "the Talmud" and midrashim, but that's a discussion which doesn't quite fit in here.
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