There are three sources of information about Sappho's life: her testimonia, the history of her times, and what can be gleaned from her own poetry — although scholars are cautious when reading poetry as a biographical source.
Testimonia is a term of art in ancient studies that refers to collections of classical biographical and literary references to classical authors. The testimonia regarding Sappho do not contain references contemporary to Sappho.[b] The representations of Sappho's life that occur in the testimonia always need to be assessed for accuracy, because many of them are certainly not correct. The testimonia are also a source of knowledge regarding how Sappho's poetry was received in antiquity. Some details mentioned in the testimonia are derived from Sappho's own poetry, which is of great interest, especially considering the testimonia originate from a time when more of Sappho's poetry was extant than is the case for modern readers.