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146 Ancient Greek Sappho (ca. 615–550 b.c.) 1. “Some there are who say that the fairest thing seen” Some there are who say that the fairest thing seen on the black earth is an array of horsemen, some, men marching, some would say ships, but I say she whom one loves best is the loveliest. Light were the work to make this plain to all. Since she who surpassed in beauty all mortality beside, Helen, chose that man as the noblest who destroyed the glory of Troy entirely. Not the thought of child, nor beloved parents, was remembered, after the Queen of Cyprus won her at first sight. Since young brides have hearts that can be persuaded lightly, stirred and shaken by their emotions as am I, remembering Anaktoria who has gone from me and whose lovely walk and the shining pallor of her face I would rather see before my eyes than Lydia’s chariots in all their glory armored for battle. 2. To a Rival You will die and be still, never shall be memory left of you after this, nor regret when you are gone. You have not touched the flowers of the Muses, and thus shadowy still in the domain of Death you must drift with a ghost’s fluttering wings, one of the darkened dead. Sappho 147  3. “When we lived all as one she adored you as” When we lived all as one she adored you as symbol of some divinity, Arignota, delighted in your dancing. Now she shines among Lydian women as into dark when the sun has set the moon pale handed at last appeareth making dim all the rest of the stars, and light spreads afar on the deep, salt sea, spreading likewise across the flowering cornfields; and the dew rinses glittering from the sky; roses spread, and the delicate antherisk, and the lotus spreads her petals. So she goes to and fro there, remembering Atthis and her companion, sick the tender mind, and the heart with grief is eaten. 4. Epitaph This is the dust of Timas, who died before she was married and whom Persephone’s dark chamber accepted instead. After her death the maidens who were her friends, with sharp iron cutting their lovely hair, laid it upon her tomb. Richmond Lattimore, 1952 ...


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