Page:Sappho and the Vigil of Venus (1920).djvu/14

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

estimate the value of their opinion; and we find no evidence that it was ever challenged. As Homer was called par excellence "the Poet," so Sappho was styled "the Poetess." Plato gives her a place among the intellectual giants whom he names "the Wise." Plutarch says the recital of her poems cast a spell of enchantment over an audience, and adds that while he read them, to touch the wine-cup seemed a profanation. Writers in the Greek Anthology acclaim her as The Tenth Muse, Daughter of Eros and Aphrodite, the Pride of Hellas, the Companion of Apollo, the Flower of the Graces. Aristotle says that the Lesbians so gloried in her, that "woman as she was," they stamped her image on their coins, just as other peoples set the heads of gods and goddesses on theirs. Dionysius of Halicarnassus, the famous writer on literary style, quotes a poem of hers (the "Hymn to Aphrodite") as an example of absolute perfection in technique, in mastery of the music of verse: "the language," he says, "ripples softly and smoothly along, the words seem to nestle together, to be interwoven by natural affinities."

Longinus, in his "Treatise on the Sublime," quotes the Second Ode in this collection as an amazing revelation of the interaction of the soul and the mortal frame under love's overwhelming passion. Strabo, who lived in the time of Augustus and Tiberius, in his Geography, says of the island of Lesbos "Here flourished Sappho, who was something wonderful; never within the memory of man has any