Aphrodite

Imagining a courtesan in the songs of Sappho

2021.02.22 | By Gregory Nagy §0. This brief essay, about imagining the existence of a courtesan in the songs of Sappho, refers not to various modern theories about references being supposedly made to courtesans by the “I” who speaks in her songs. It is, rather, about the imagined identity of Sappho herself in the ancient world. There existed, already then, various theories about the life and times of Sappho. I… Read more

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…

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…

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