Danger Kallisti's Reviews > Sappho: A New Translation

Sappho by Mary Bernard
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's review
Feb 18, 08

bookshelves: classics
Recommended for: classicists, young women
Read in February, 2008

The talent of Sappho was truly remarkable: she wrote a bunch of girlie love poems, and not only are they readable, they’re actually good.

Of course, some of this owes to the translation. Barnard makes clear the challenges of stitching together two-thousand-year-old lyric verse from scraps of papyrus which reappear in archaeological digs in the form of decoupage on sarcophagi. She also pointed out the problems in trying to accurately convey anything written in a language as vague and flexible as Ancient Greek:

Now, was that “golden” modifier supposed to apply to Aphrodite, the girl, or the house of her father? All? Well, hm. That’s certainly going to seem pedantic if we slap the same adjective on each one…

Next time, I’d like to get my paws on a Loeb Classical Library edition. Then I could use it as a Greek study guide, and someday be able to read her works more as they were originally written: puns, vagaries, and all.
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