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Anno Urbis - The Roman Empire Online

Bulfinch's Age of Fable

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SAPPHO

Sappho was a poetess who flourished in a very early age of Greek literature. Of her works few fragments remain, but they are enough to establish her claim to eminent poetical genius. The story of Sappho commonly alluded to is that she was passionately in love with a beautiful youth named Phaon, and failing to obtain a return of affection she threw herself from the promontory of Leucadia into the sea, under a superstition that those who should take that "Lover's-leap" would, if not destroyed, be cured of their love.

Byron alludes to the story of Sappho in "Childe Harold," Canto II.:

"Childe Harold sailed and passed the barren spot

Where sad Penelope o'erlooked the wave, And onward viewed the mount, not yet forgot, The lover's refuge and the Lesbian's grave. Dark Sappho! could not verse immortal save That breast imbued with such immortal fire?

"'Twas on a Grecian autumn's gentle eve

Childe Harold hailed Leucadia's cape afar;" etc.

Those who wish to know more of Sappho and her "leap" are referred to the "Spectator," Nos. 223 and 229. See also Moore's "Evenings in Greece."





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