Hither, to me from Crete to this holy temple, where is your delightful
grove of apple trees, and altars smoking with incense; therein
cold water babbles through apple-branches, and the whole place
is shadowed by roses, and from the shimmering leaves the sleep
of enchantment comes down; therein too a meadow, where horses
graze, blossoms with spring flowers, and the winds blow gently...;
Come, Cypris (Aphrodite), take and pour gracefully into golden
cups nectar that is mingled with our festivities, for these my
friends and yours.
Some say a host of cavalry, others of infantry, and others of
ships, is the most beautiful thing on the black earth, but I
say it is whatsoever a person loves. It is perfectly easy to
make this understood by everyone: for she who far surpassed mankind
in beauty, Helen, left her most noble husband and went sailing
off to Troy with no thought at all of her dear child or dear
parents, but love led her astray...lightly...and she reminded
me now of Anactoria who is not here; I would rather see her lovely
walk and the bright sparkle of her face than the Lydians chariots
and armed infantry...
(same papyrus as 16; possibly a hymn for a safe journey for
Sappho and her companions)
Let your graceful form appear near me while I pray, lady Hera,
to whom Atridae, illustrious kings, made prayer; after accomplishing
many labors, first around Ilium, then on the sea, they started
out to this island, but could not complete their journey until
they called on you and Zeus the god of suppliants and Thyone's
lovely son (Dionysus); now be gracious and help me in accordance
with that ancient precedent. Holy and fair...maidens... (to reach
I bid you, Abianthis, take your lyre and sing of Gonglya, while
desire once again flies around you, the lovely one -- for her
dress excited you when you saw it; and I rejoice: for the holy
Cyprian (Aphrodite) herself once blamed me for praying ...this
...for you were once a tender child...come and sing this, all
of you...converse and grant us...generous favors, for we are
going to a wedding; and you too know this well; but send the
maidens away as quickly as possible; and may the gods have (mercy?)...there
is no road to great Olympus for mortals...
...night...maidens...all night long...might sing of the love
between you and the violet-robed bride. Come, wake up: go and
fetch the young bachelors of your own age, so that we may see
less sleep than the clear-voiced bird (the nightingale).
He seems as fortunate as the gods to me, the man who sits opposite
you and listens nearby to your sweet voice and lovely laughter.
Truly that sets my heart trembling in my breast. For when I look
at you for a moment, then it is no longer possible for me to
speak; my tongue has snapped, at once a subtle fire has stolen
beneath my flesh, I see nothing with my eyes, my ears hum, sweat
pours from me, a trembling seizes me all over, I am greener than
grass, and it seems to me that I am little short of dying. But
all can be endured, since even a poor man...
...Sardis...often turning her thoughts in this direction...she
honored you as being like a goddess for all to see and took most
delight in your song. Now she stands out among Lydian women like
the rosy-fingered moon after sunset, surpassing all the stars,
and its light spreads alike over the salt sea and the flowery
fields; the dew is shed in beauty, and roses bloom and tender
chervil and flowery melilot. Often as she goes to and fro she
remembers gentle Atthis and doubtless her tender heart is consumed
because of your fate...
to the bridegroom
"Happy bridegroom, your marriage has been fulfilled as you
prayed: you have the girl for whom you prayed."
to the bride
"Your form is graceful, your eyes...gentle, and love streams
over your beautiful face...
to the bidegroom
Aphrodite has honored you outstandingly."
"Virginity, virginity, where have you gone, deserting me?"
"Never again shall I come to you: never again shall I come."
"Delicate Adonis is dying, Cytherea; what are we to do?"
"Beat your breast, girls, and tear your clothes."