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Roman Receptions of Sappho$
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Thea S. Thorsen and Stephen Harrison

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198829430

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198829430.001.0001

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Sappho: Transparency and Obstruction

Sappho: Transparency and Obstruction

(p.27) 1 Sappho: Transparency and Obstruction
Roman Receptions of Sappho

Thea S. Thorsen

Oxford University Press

A number of issues obstruct our vision of Sappho and her ancient reception. This chapter revisits such obstructions as the loss of Sappho’s poetry, the difficulty of accessing information regarding e.g. Chamaeleon’s treatise on Sappho, the attestation of the Athenian sculptor Silanion’s portrait of Sappho at Rome, and the significance of the poem variously known as Ovid’s Heroides 15 and Epistula Sapphus, as well as most of the testimonies for Sappho’s alleged ugliness and association with prostitution. Finally, conflicting images of Sappho are measured against the consistently erotic depiction of her figure and poetry at Rome, where she becomes particularly closely linked with a Roman brand of the metapoetics of love poetry, dubbed erotopoetics in this volume.

Keywords:   loss of texts, obfuscation of evidence, claims of ugliness and prostitution, eroticism and poetics, erotopoetics

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