Is This What Sappho Sounded Like?

Next Monday on the History of Literature podcast, we’ll be taking a look at Sappho. (It’s very interesting to contrast her with her near contemporary Homer, whom we looked at last time.)

One of the great tragedies of literature is how much of Sappho we’ve lost: not just the poetry but ALL of the accompanying music.

What did Sappho sound like? We don’t know. We can’t know.

But we can guess.

Here’s one version, courtesy of youtube:

That’s Sappho’s poem set to music by Eve Beglarian, sung in ancient Greek by Andrea Goodman, who is accompanying herself on a 7-string lyre. The clip comes from a production of the New York Greek Drama Company in 1987, directed by Peter Steadman.

Beautiful? It is to me. As beautiful as Sappho’s actual songs? Alas, we’ll never know.

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3 thoughts on “Is This What Sappho Sounded Like?

  1. Interesting, but probably it is harder to reconstruct the sound of Sappho than for other Greek verse. Many of the early references to Sappho were in grammar books, using her as an example of provincial Greek, rather than classic Attic Greek. Sappho’s verses were probably originally spoken/sung in what would have been considered a strong regional accent.

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