Sappho: Poems and Fragments

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder - A Commentary on Sappho's Fragments College

It is easy to love something that is beautiful. It is easy to see beauty in the things you love. What is difficult at times is seeing the distinction between these two ideas. In Sappho’s “Fragment 16,” she says that the most beautiful thing in the world is the thing that you love. A question remains, is it beautiful because you love it or do you love it because it is beautiful? The first female poet questions standards of beauty and the notion of loving someone for their beauty in this poem. Sappho says that although some people find military or horses to be the most beautiful, she believes it is the things that one loves. She shares three different situations to discuss this idea. The first idea is a universal one, the second describes a historical idea through the use of Homer’s The Iliad and the final is personal to Sappho’s life. While it could be said that people love things because they are beautiful, through Sappho’s poetry it can be seen that things are beautiful because of your love for them, this is important to understand because the Greeks’ erotic impulses play a large role in their decision making and in their daily lives.

In Sappho’s poem, “Fragment 16,” she asks, what is the most beautiful thing? In the first...

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