Sappho: Poems and Fragments

Ancient sources

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.[5]

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][6] 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.[7][8] The testimonia are also a source of knowledge regarding how Sappho's poetry was received in antiquity.[9] 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.[10][11]


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