By Gregory Nagy

How the first word in Song 1 of Sappho is relevant to her reception in the ancient world—and to various different ways of thinking about the Greek word hetairā

2021.01.15 | By Gregory Nagy §0. In this essay, extracting what I have learned about the meaning of the first word in Song 1 of Sappho in the overall context of studying, in previous essays, the ancient reception of Sappho, I will concentrate on the erotic power of floral perfumes—a power that is driven by Aphrodite and that is poeticized in Sappho’s songs with reference to two boy-loves of the… Read more

The theo-eroticism of mythmaking about Aphrodite’s love for boys like Adonis

2021.01.09 | By Gregory Nagy §0. In a previous study, I used the term theo-eroticism as a way of describing a kind of sexuality that gets transformed into something sublime by way of blending eroticism with divinity. I was following terminology used by exegetes of the Bible in their interpretations of some intensely erotic situations pictured in the Song of Songs, and, although I experimented with applying the terms of… Read more

Back and forth from general to special kinds of erotic love, further variations on a theme of love-on-wings in Song 1 of Sappho and elsewhere

2020.12.25 | By Gregory Nagy §0. In Song 1 of Sappho, as our mind’s eye views the goddess Aphrodite at the moment when she starts driving her chariot drawn by birds called strouthoi and travels in a miraculous instant, with the speed of light, all the way down from the bright heavens above, down to the dark soil of our earthly human existence here below, how are we to imagine… Read more

From the heavenly to the earthy and back, variations on a theme of love-on-wings in Song 1 of Sappho and elsewhere

2020.12.18 | By Gregory Nagy §0. In this essay, I start by considering the word strouthoi, conventionally translated as ‘sparrows’, in Song 1 of Sappho. At line 10, these birds are seen at a moment of their taking wing. They are pulling behind them, as they fly off, the chariot of the goddess Aphrodite, conveying their divine mistress from her heavenly dwelling and winging their way, full speed, through the… Read more

Some rose-colored visions of the dancing dawn goddess in the painterly art of Sappho and beyond

2020.12.11 | By Gregory Nagy §0. In the “Tithonos Song” of Sappho, the fragmented text of which (“F 58”) has of late been supplemented with newly-found additional papyrus fragments, we read how the amorous goddess of the dawn, Eos, abducted the beautiful hero Tithonos to be her youthful lover—but she was unable to prevent him from slowly turning into an old man, deprived of his youth and beauty. This sad… Read more