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Sappho and the Vigil of Venus

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SAPPHO

AND

THE VIGIL OF VENUS

 

TRANSLATED BY

ARTHUR S. WAY, D.Lit.

AUTHOR OF
TRANSLATIONS INTO ENGLISH VERSE OF HOMER'S ILIAD AND ODYSSEY
THE GREEK DRAMATISTS, VIRGIL, LUCRETIUS, HESIOD, ETC.

 

London:

MACMILLAN AND CO., LIMITED

NEW YORK: THE MACMILLAN CO.

1920

 

TO HEPSIE

 

 

PREFACE.

The plan on which the following translations have been attempted is, I believe, original, and, I freely admit, audacious. The translator has essayed to weave together into connected wholes fragments which, being in the same metre, and, being conceivably connected in a sequence, or sequences, of thought, may possibly have been parts of one poem.

Sappho is known to the general reader only by an ode and a half: but there are extant besides over 170 fragments, most of them very short, consisting in some cases of but a single word. Yet of these many, indeed most, are very tantalizing in their suggestiveness; and our poets, notably Swinburne, have expanded some of them into fairly long poems. The present translator has attempted no such flights. His endeavour has been, not the presumptuous one of restoring Sappho's Odes, but that of presenting some of her thoughts, grouped together, with just sufficient connective matter of his own to produce an intelligible sequence, in the hope of thus making the fragments as interesting to the general reader as they have been to the scholar—for whose scandalized eyes this version is, I need scarcely say, not intended. The reference-numbers are to the fragments as they are given in Wharton's second edition, a work to which I gratefully own my obligations in the preparation of this book. They are prefixed to each ode in the order in which they are used. No attempt has been made to gather into sequences those few fragments in which the thought is complete in itself, and which may, therefore, have been substantive short poems.

I have appended to this little series of translations a version (made from the text adopted by Dr. Mackail in the Loeb Classical Library) of the Pervigilium Veneris, an epithalamium (it may be) composed by an unknown poet who lived (according to one conjecture) in the reign of Hadrian, the Emperor who revived with great magnificence the worship of Venus. I have been led to do so because, of all the remains of antiquity, it seems to breathe most of the spirit of Sappho, and its composer may well have been inspired by a perusal of her poems.

 

 
Wessex Press Taunton 1920.png

BARNICOTT AND PEARCE

PRINTERS

 





Copyright.svg PD-icon.svg This work is a translation and has a separate copyright status to the applicable copyright protections of the original content.
Original:

This work was published before January 1, 1924, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.

 
Translation:

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1924.


The author died in 1930, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 80 years or less. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.