/a-scenario-for-exchanges-of-comments-on-a-planned-monograph-about-the-ancient-reception-of-sappho/

“poetics of male appropriation”

I am not sure that the ancients would have recognized male projections of Sappho’s homoerotic poetry onto heteroerotic affairs as a form of male appropriation of female-to-female sexuality. This is what I write about it in Lardinois (f.c.) after discussing Theocritus’ use of Sappho fr. 31 in his portrayal of Simaethia in Id. 2: “The fact that Simaetha is in love with a man, while the first person speaker in Sappho fragment 31 desires another woman, apparently did not bother Theocritus nor, for that matter, Meleager, Catullus or Apollonius, who all use the poem to describe heterosexual love. This must have to do with the fact that in antiquity homosexual and heterosexual love were not set in sharp contrast to one another [Footnote: E.g. Dover (1978) 1, Halperin (1990) 33–35 and Calame (1999) 54–55. Note that Sappho herself compares her relationship with Anactoria to that of Helan and Paris in fr. 16], and that Sappho was known as a poet who wrote about love in general, not specifically about female homosexuality, although the ancients must have been aware that she uses female homoerotic relationships as her examples.” I add to this in a footnote: “It is telling that Dioscorides Ep. 18.1 Page (= AP 7.407) calls Sappho “the sweetest support of desire for young boys in love” (ἥδιστον φιλέουσι νέοις προσανάκλημ᾿ ἐρώτων). References to her being a “woman-lover” are not plentiful in our sources (test. 1, 2, 17 and 19) and they are balanced by stories of her love for male poets (test. 8) or for the boatman Phaon (e.g. Ovid, Her. 15). It is worth noting that Longinus (De Subl. 10.3) cites Sappho fr. 31 as an example of the list of symptoms that affect all people who are in love (περὶ τοὺς ἐρῶντας).”



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