The New Sappho on Old Age: Textual and Philosophical Issues

  Greene, Ellen, and Marilyn B. Skinner, eds. 2009. The New Sappho on Old Age: Textual and Philosophical Issues. Hellenic Studies Series 38. Washington, DC: Center for Hellenic Studies.

Chapter 10. The New Sappho in a Hellenistic Poetry Book [1]

Dee Clayman

While most of the interest in the “New Sappho” (Köln. Inv. Nr. 21351 + 21376) has rightly centered on the “Tithonus” poem, fragments of another precede it on the Cologne papyrus and parts of a third follow. [2] I argue below that the ensemble of three appears to be part of an early Hellenistic [3] poetry book with editorial features familiar from the “new” Posidippus, Theocritus, Callimachus and Meleager, while evidence from the papyrus itself suggests that it is the anthologist’s autograph.

The second poem, partly preserved on P.Oxy. 1787 (= 58 Voigt), is securely identified as the work of Sappho by a citation in Athenaeus 687b which also guarantees its meter. [4] Aeolic dialect forms and the same meter also characterize the first poem, which was previously unknown, but is very likely to be Sappho’s as well. The third, however, is clearly the work of a different author from a later time. Its meter, though impossible to fully reconstruct, has too many contiguous brevi to be Aeolic, its dialect is mixed and some of the vocabulary is relatively “modern.” [5] It is clear from this that the Cologne papyrus is part of an anthology, but what kind? [6]

Unlike the components of some Hellenistic anthologies which seem to have no relationship to one another, [7] the three poems of P.Köln. were selected and arranged within the scope of a single theme: the mortal poet’s immortal song. In the first poem, e.g., Sappho, [8] now on earth (ὠς νῦν ἐπὶ γᾶς ἔοισαν, 6), holds her clear-sounding lyre (λιγύραν [α]ἴ κεν ἔλοισα πᾶκτιν, 7) and sings (ἀείδω, 8) while referencing a place below the earth (νέρθε δὲ γᾶς, 4) where she will (or hopes to) receive honor due for the dead (γέρας, 5). [9]

Gronewald and Daniel demonstrate how closely this first poem is tied to the second. Not only are the meter and the Aeolic dialect the same, but striking verbal echoes lead the editors to suggest that the first poem is a Präludium and the second a Stichwort. [10] The verbal echoes highlight thematic ones, and the second poem also features the poet contemplating the end of life. Here she addresses a youthful chorus on “the lovely gifts of the violet-bosomed Muses” (1) and “the clear-sounding lyre” (2). From the pleasures of music, presumably here on earth, she turns to the physical indignities of old age: grey hair, heavy heart, and knees once as swift as fawns that no longer support her in the dance (3–6). But what can she do? (7). It is impossible for a human to avoid growing old (8). Her case in point is Tithonus, a mortal beloved by the goddess Dawn who carried him to the ends of the earth. Though he had an immortal wife, old age seized him (9–12).

Tithonus’ story is told in more detail in the Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite, 218–38, in a version older than Sappho’s. Dawn asked Zeus to make Tithonus immortal, but forgot to request eternal youth so he continued to age indefinitely until he became completely incapacitated, and his goddess-wife had to lock him away. Nevertheless his voice flows on eternally after all of his physical strength has gone. Tithonus’ fate seems like a depressing prospect for most mortals, but an aging poet, like Sappho, may well wish for an immortal voice. In fact, in later retellings of the tale, Tithonus turns into a cicada whose voice, in turn, becomes a paragon of stylistic purity for Hellenistic poets like Posidippus and Callimachus. [11] We do not know if Sappho herself was thinking in these terms, but a Hellenistic editor may well have been, and from this perspective the honor of an immortal voice like Tithonus’ is the γέρας after death that Sappho anticipates in the first poem (5). She cannot expect physical immortality, but she can hope that her poetry will live on after her, and her voice will continue to sing as those on earth give her due rights by performing her compositions. The story of Tithonus, then, plays a key role in linking the first poem with the second. This is equally true whether Sappho ended her own poem with Tithonus, or the editor of the Cologne papyrus truncated a longer poem just at this point, as evidence from P.Oxy. 1787 seems to suggest. [12]

In any case, the conversation about poetry and death on the Cologne papyrus does not end with the second poem, but continues in the third. Like the first two poems, this one appears to be presented in the first person (ἀφέρπω, 3; ἀκούω, 8) by a female holding a lyre, ([εὔ]φθογγον λύραν…/[συ]νεργὸν ἔχοισα, 12–13), and it seems reasonable to assume, though it cannot be proven, that the narrator is meant to be “Sappho,” who is here employing her lyric “I” as she seems to do in the two previous poems. [13] The presence of dicola in the text raises the possibility that she is in dialog with someone else, since dicola are sometimes used in dramatic texts and Platonic dialogs to indicate a change of speaker. The fragments, as they are, however, do not support this view, and it appears that there is only one, female speaker. [14] Dicola are often simply interpunctuations, and the placement in this text of two certain dicola after ἀφέρπω (3) and the metrically and grammatically equivalent ἀκούω (8), suggests that this is the case here. [15]

Though its meter and modern diction indicate that it is the work of another, later author, the third poem apparently presents itself as Sappho’s own composition. It begins with an address to a deity who is called “slander-twister, crafty one” (ψιθυροπλόκε, δόλιε, 1), which rearranges and gives new direction to Sappho 1.2 Voigt, παῖ Δίος δολόπλοκε, where the epithet refers to Aphrodite. The vocatives continue in a similar vein: “inventor of stories” (μύθων αὐτουργ[έ, 1); “treacherous child” (ἐπίβουλε παῖ, 2); “companion” (ἑταῖρε, 3). These are all possible epithets for Aphrodite or her son Eros, [16] which recall Sappho 188 Voigt where Eros is a “weaver of stories” (μυθόπλοκος) and 1.28 Voigt where Sappho asks Aphrodite to be her “ally” (σύμμαχος). Both Aphrodite and Eros are central figures in Sappho’s work, and a poet wishing to evoke it might well begin with an address to one or both of these deities. The clear reference to Sappho 1 Voigt [17] leaves no doubt that the author of the third poem knew her work and meant, at some level, to imitate it.

There is another possible addressee, however. Recently Rawles has called attention to four letters, βοτο, which were written in the second line and then crossed-off together with some others that followed. This he takes to be the first part of a compound adjective in the vocative case that points to an invocation of the cattle-thief Hermes, another deity familiar from Sappho for whom the epithets in verses 1–2 would be appropriate. [18] There is, however, no known Greek word that begins with βοτο-, though it might exist in theory, and further, an argument based on letters deliberately deleted and replaced by others is not an inherently strong one. [19]

After the invocation, the poem proceeds in the first person (ἀφέρπω, 3; ἀκούω, 8) as in the first and second poems. “Sappho” describes herself as “without breath” (ἄπνους, 5), that is, near-dead, [20] and says “I go forth” (ἀφέρπω, 3), [leaving behind] the light of the stars and the fiery sun ([φ]άος ἀστέρων …/ [τ]ὸ πυριφεγγὲς ἀελ[ίου 6–7), [21] holding her “lovely… beautiful-sounding lyre … her co-worker (τὰν ἐρατὰν… / [εὔ]φθογγον λύραν … / [συ]νεργὸν ἔχοισα, 11–13). She who contemplates her death in the first poem (4–6) is now actively experiencing it as she leaves the world above for the world below, still holding the lyre she held there (7). Her descent to Hades, which dramatizes her musings in poems 1 and 2, brings them to a fitting conclusion.

Before her final departure, however, she makes reference to one more mythological exemplum, Orpheus the son of Oiagros (9), who charmed “every creeping thing” ([ἑρ]πετὰ πάντα,10). Orpheus’ rapport with animals and nature, created by the power of his music, is well documented (A. Ag. 1629–30; E. IA 1211–14, Ba. 560–64) as are other aspects of his story. [22] In the absence of textual clues it is not possible to say which particular tale of Orpheus the author had in mind with this reference, but surely his descent to Hades fits the context perfectly. In poem three Sappho is on her way to Hades and can hope that her music will be as efficacious in triumphing over death as Orpheus’. [23]

Another aspect of his story that resonates with Sappho’s concerns in the second poem is Orpheus’ ultimate fate at the hands of furious maenads, who tear him from limb to limb while his head goes on singing. Most importantly, Orpheus’ singing head had a special relationship with Sappho’s island of Lesbos which is evident first in the early Hellenistic period though the tradition may be older. [24] Antigonus of Karystus tells us that “Myrsilus of Methymna, the chronicler of Lesbos, says that Orpheus’ head is buried at Antissa, and its story is related by the local inhabitants. As a consequence, the nightingales there are more euphonious than others” (FGH XLV 477.2). [25] Singers are metaphorically nightingales as early as Hesiod (Erga 203–208), and Myrsilus’ contemporary Hermesianax calls Sappho a nightingale in an elegiac catalog of poets-in-love which begins with Orpheus’ descent to Hades (47–50, fr. 7 Powell). [26] By the mid-third century “nightingales” are poems and Callimachus says that the “nightingales”of his friend Heraclitus of Halicarnassus “live untouched by the hand of Hades” though the poet himself is dead (Callimachus 34 G.-P. = AP 7.80). The fragments of Myrsilus do not suggest that he used much poetic language, but the especially sweet-sounding nightingales suggest that Orpheus’ blessings had a literary expression which could, like their bestower, triumph over death.

Antissa is not the only location in Lesbos that claimed the honor of Orpheus’ relics. In a detailed rendition of the head’s journey, Phanokles, an elegaic poet also of early Hellenistic date [27] , tells us that Maenads nailed the head to his lyre, and that it landed at Methymna after floating across the sea from Thrace:

Τοῦ δ’ ἀπὸ μὲν κεφαλὴν χαλκῶι τάμον, αὐτίκα δ’ αὐτὴν     11
          εἰς ἅλα Θρηϊκίην ῥῖψαν ὁμοῦ χέλυι
ἥλωι καρτύνασαι, ἵν’ ἐμφορέοιντο θαλάσσηι
          ἄμφω ἅμα, γλαυκοῖς τεγγόμεναι ῥοθίοις.
τὰς δ’ ἱερῆι Λέσβωι πολιὴ ἐπέκελσε θάλασσα,     15
          ἠχὴ δ’ ὡς λιγυρῆς πόντον ἐπέσχε λύρης,
νήσους τ’ αἰγιαλούς θ’ ἁλιμυρέας, ἔνθα λίγειαν
          ἀνέρες Ὀρφείην ἐκτέρισαν κεφαλήν,
ἐν δὲ χέλυν τύμβωι λιγυρὴν θέσαν, ἣ καὶ ἀναύδους
          πέτρας καὶ Ὅρκου στυγνὸν ἔπειθεν ὕδωρ·     20
ἐκ κείνου μολπαί τε καὶ ἱμερτὴ κιθαριστὺς
          νῆσον ἔχει, πασέων δ᾿ ἐστὶν ἀοιδοτάτη.

They decapitated him with a bronze sword, and at once threw his head into the Thracian sea together with his lyre attached firmly by a nail, so that both could be carried in the water together, moistened by blue waves. And the grey sea brought them ashore at holy Lesbos, as the echo of the clear lyre commanded the waters, islands and shores flowing into the sea; and there men buried the clear-voiced head of Orpheus, and placed in the tomb his clear-sounding lyre, which once persuaded even mute rocks and the hateful water of Orcus. Since that time songs and the lovely art of the cithara hold that most musical of all the islands.

ap. Stobaeus 64.14 = 11–22, fr. 1,
Powell as emended by Lloyd-Jones [

Phanokles presents the tale as an aition which establishes a pedigree for lyric song on Lesbos through the death and suffering of Orpheus and the symbolic gift of his lyre. His telling of the tale unites the images and themes of all three poems of our anthology, which suggests, in turn, that the editor, or at least the author of poem 3, was aware of a connection between Orpheus and Lesbos, though neither Phanokles nor Myrsilus were necessarily the source of his information. [29] Like Tithonus, Orpheus became an immortal voice issuing from a compromised human frame, and through this image the second and third poems are joined in the same way as the first and second.

There is also another important aspect of Phanokles’ treatment of Orpheus that resonates with Sappho. The verses above are from a 28 line segment of Phanokles’ Ἔρωτες ἢ Καλοί, a catalog elegy with short segments describing the same-sex affairs of various figures of Greek myth. The section begins with a portrait of Orpheus singing and pining in vain for the love of Calais, one of the sons of Boreas and a fellow Argonaut (ap. Stobaeus 64.14 = 1–6 fr. 1, Powell). [30] The neat parallel of a homosexual Orpheus bringing his lyre and the gift of lyric to Sappho’s Lesbos was surely the aim of Phanokles, [31] and if the Orpheus of our third poem was informed by this image, Sappho’s own Orpheus-like descent to Hades is more richly evocative. [32]

Although it is not possible to establish a precise date for Phanokles, scholarly consensus places him towards the beginning of the third century, or roughly the same period as the Cologne papyrus. [33] A reference to line 1 by Apollonius Rhodius (Ar. 4.905) suggests a very early Hellenistic date and this is confirmed by Lloyd-Jones’s observation that the poem’s diction includes very few words not found in Homer, the Homeric Hymns or early elegy. [34] Hopkinson notes Phanokles’ penchant for repetition and rhyme, especially between words at the midpoint and end of the pentameter, and describes Phanokles’ style as a “studied simplicity” quite different from the complexity of the high Hellenistic period. [35]

Poem 3 of the Sappho papyrus exhibits some of these same characteristics. The editors observe how ἀφέρπω (3) rhymes with ἀκούω (8), each followed by a dicolon in the same location in the verse. [36] And they demonstrate in their commentary that the poet uses virtually no vocabulary that cannot be found in early Greek lyric, tragedy and Plato. Indeed the only “new” word, ψιθυροπλόκε in line 1, is constructed on the model of Sappho’s own δολόπλοκε (1.2 Voigt). Lastly, Phanokles’ habit of repetition, illustrated above by λιγυρῆς … λύρης (16), λίγειαν … κεφαλήν (17–18), χέλυν … λιγυρὴν (19), has a close parallel in words repeated across all three poems of the new Sappho papyrus: λιγύραν … πᾶκτιν (7, poem 1), λιγύραν χελύνναν (2, poem 2) and [εὔ]φθογγον λύραν (12, poem 3). [37]

While none of these indications are decisive, the style and vocabulary of poem 3 seem to point to an early Hellenistic date—or approximately contemporary with Myrsilus, Phanokles and the Cologne papyrus itself which is, in effect, a terminus ante quem for its composition. Its monodic form and lyric litany of blame as well as its loose metrical scheme and some of its language has Hellenistic parallels in P.Grenf. I 1 (P.Dryton 50, “Des Mädchens Klage” = 117–80 Powell) and in Helen’s song in P.Tebt. I 1, [38] though “Sappho” dispenses with her complaints in just a few lines and focuses instead on the death scene which may be inspired by the tradition of Sappho’s suicide. [39]

The poet’s attempt to imitate Sappho’s literary persona by couching the poem in the first person and addressing it to Sappho’s signature deities, while using dialect forms that give an impression of being Aeolic, [40] all suggest that this is a tribute poem of a sort familiar in Hellenistic poetry. A well-known example is Callimachus’ first Iamb which presents itself as a harangue by Hipponax, who lived and wrote some three centuries earlier. Though Callimachus uses Hipponax’s unique meter, the choliamb, and his Ionic dialect, a reader is not expected to believe that this is really Hipponax’s work. Rather it is a compliment to him and a statement about the aesthetics of Callimachus’ own Iambi. [41] Poems like this are part of a larger cultural trend that Peter Bing has called the “memorializing impulse,” which first appears in the late fourth century BCE and comes to full flower in the third. [42] That Sappho should be memorialized in this way is altogether consistent with her importance to Hellenistic poets generally. [43] Indeed, Theocritus’ Idylls 28-31, which celebrate Sappho and Alcaeus by employing their meters, Aeolic dialect forms, and themes, offer an apposite example of this phenomenon.

Like Iamb 1, poem 3 has close connections with contiguous poems which raises the possibility that an editor placed them with care in a way that creates a complex composition with levels of meaning beyond its individual parts. This kind of careful construction of a new whole from smaller units is characteristic of Hellenistic poetry books, such as is the “new Posidippus,” P.Mil.Vogl. VIII 309, dated by its hand to the end of the third century BC, [44] or not long after the Cologne papyrus. It contains some 112 epigrams of Posidippus of Pella (ca. 315–250 BCE) organized into divisions based on theme, each marked on the papyrus with a title. [45] Kathryn Gutzwiller has shown how poems within the divisions are linked by careful arrangement and verbal connections, while “a sophisticated use of thematics” gives artistic shape to each section and provides links between them. [46]

Nita Krevans, who has examined some of the broader principles of arrangement in the Milan papyrus, finds that two predominate: “keep poems on similar topics adjacent to each other” and follow similar poems with variations and developments. [47] These same principles are at work in Callimachus’ Iambi where the opening poems exhibit Hipponax’s Ionic dialect and choliambic meter, but beginning with the fifth, the meters begin to change and with the sixth, the dialects, while the iambic spirit remains throughout. Likewise, in the Cologne papyrus two poems of Sappho in the same meter and dialect, and with similar content and theme, precede the third poem, which takes liberties with the first two criteria, but appears to be identical in the others.

Krevans also notes the close parallel between Posidippus’ epigrams, particularly those in the sections on “Stones” and “Bird-signs,” with Hellenistic wonder-books like Callimachus’ Collections of Marvels throughout the World by Location and On Birds (frr. 407–11 Pf. and frr. 414–28 Pf). [48] These compilations, whether in Posidippus’ poetry or Callimachus’ prose, contain similar material on prodigies and unnatural phenomena meant to shock and amaze the reader. A similar interest in paradoxography is evident in the Cologne papyrus. Tithonus’ wisp of a body pouring out perpetual chatter at the end of poem 2 surely belongs in this category, as well as Orpheus’s singing head and his powers over the natural world. While Sappho herself might not have been interested in the bizarre aspects of her mythical exempla, they would not have been lost on a Hellenistic editor.

While the Cologne papyrus has these features in common with the “new Posidippus,” it is not the work of a single author, as the Posidippus is generally thought to be, [49] but is clearly part of an anthology containing poems of a well-known poet from the distant past set together with a new poem apparently composed for the context. One possible parallel for this arrangement may be an early collection of Theocritus’ bucolica which included the spurious Idylls 8 and 9. We do not know precisely when it was produced, but it was certainly before Virgil, who knew the spurious poems, and possibly as early as the late third or early second century BC. [50]

Idyll 9, which was apparently written as a conclusion to such a collection, [51] may be an analogue of poem 3. We do not know, of course, what, if anything, followed 3 on the papyrus, but Sappho’s descent to Hades, which dramatizes her musings in poems 1 and 2, also brings them to a fitting conclusion.

Another important Hellenistic parallel, though later in time (c. 100 BC), is Meleager’s Garland, a collection of epigrams containing the work of distinguished predecessors in that genre, arranged by Meleager and generously augmented with work of his own composition on the same themes. One of these served as an introduction to the collection (1 G-P = AP 4.1) and another, its conclusion (129 G-P = AP 12.257). [52] Although no manuscripts of the Garland itself have survived, extracts from it were preserved in the Byzantine anthology of Cephalus that forms the basis of what is now called the Greek Anthology. [53] Wifstrand’s analyses of some of the extracts demonstrate that Meleager organized the poems thematically to create striking verbal repetitions, while Radinger’s shows that Meleager characteristically placed his own variations after the original poems he wished to imitate. [54] Recent work by Kathryn Gutzwiller confirms these observations, and demonstrates how Meleager deploys his arrangements of his own and pre-existing compositions to create a work of art on a large scale, with its own aesthetics and a greater significance than any of its parts. Although Gutzwiller can identify no predecessors for Meleager in this editorial technique, she suggests that it probably predated him. [55] The Cologne Papyrus, with its two poems of Sappho followed by a later one on the same theme, appears to be a very early example of Meleager-like editing and composing.

To summarize, it appears that the Cologne papyrus contains part of an anthology consisting of two authentic poems of Sappho, closely connected by theme and verbal repetitions on the subject of old age, death and the immortality of song. These are followed by a Hellenistic poem, in the voice of Sappho, which repeats some of the same language, while it dramatizes the logical next step, Sappho’s descent to Hades. The anthology is structured in a way that is familiar from Hellenistic poetry books, and an early Hellenistic date is consistent with the meter, dialect and language of the third poem, as well as the handwriting of the papyrus itself.

Following Gronewald and Daniel’s description, the papyrus is written in a book hand, with epigraphic forms consistent with an early third-century date, until the ninth line of the second column where the third poem begins, after a short break, in a larger and rounder hand. [56] Lundon’s exhaustive analysis shows that the two hands have more differences than similarities, but that they are more or less contemporary. [57] This suggests that the third poem was not simply added to a pre-existing collection of Sappho’s work, [58] but rather, that some time in the first part of the third century someone copied the first two poems from another, presumably older manuscript of Sappho’s, and perhaps arranged them with the anthology in mind, while another added the third poem within a short time frame. Alterations in the text of the third poem, where twice a series of letters has been crossed off and replaced with others, are typical of autographs [59] and this indicates, in turn, that the individual who inserted the third poem was also its composer. We do not know, of course, in what circumstances this took place, but P.Köln. seems to provide evidence that copyists and composers could collaborate in the creation of a complex work. [60]

Poems 1 and 2, removed from the context of their pre-Hellenistic source, do not provide us with any information about the transmission of Sappho’s poetry before the work of the great Alexandrian editors, since we do not know whether they were extracted from the older manuscript separately or together. [61] Even if their thematic unity reflects nothing more than Sappho’s limited repertoire of images and themes, their arrangement in the anthology with the editor/author’s own contribution, a tribute poem in honor of the same author carefully composed to enhance and develop the content and sequencing, exhibits an early Hellenistic interest in the principles of artistic arrangement, and looks forward to the complex Alexandrian literary creations that are still to come.


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[ back ] 1. I would like to thank John Lundon for sharing with me a pre-publication version of his essential paper “Il nuovo testo lirico nel nuovo papiro di Saffo,” now Lundon 2007, and for his careful reading of my own. I am also grateful to Nita Krevans and all the contributors to this volume for their helpful suggestions. I alone am responsible for the errors.

[ back ] 2. On the constitution of the text and its divisions see Obbink and Hammerstaedt, Chapters 2 and 3 in this volume. I use Obbink’s text below and substitute numbers for his titles as follows: “New Fragment” = poem 1; “The ‘Tithonus poem’” = poem 2; and “Continuation 1” = poem 3. The numbers reflect the order of the poems on the papyrus.

[ back ] 3. The papyrus is dated by its first editors to the early part of the third century BC on the basis of its handwriting which has partly “epigraphic” letter forms (Gronewald and Daniel 2004a:1).

[ back ] 4. On the meter, see Lidov, Chapter 8 in this volume.

[ back ] 5. On the non-Sapphic features of the third poem see Gronewald and Daniel 2005:7–8 and especially Lundon 2007:155–157.

[ back ] 6. Gronewald and Daniel 2005:8 were the first to suggest that the papyrus did not represent any part of Sappho’s collected works, but was instead an anthology. The argument is presented in greater detail in Lundon 2007:157–161.

[ back ] 7. The poems of P.Tebt. I 1 & 2, for example, have no apparent connecting thread, see Lundon 2007:163-164.

[ back ] 8. On the likelihood that Sappho is the speaker, see West 2005:2.

[ back ] 9. This is essentially the interpretation of West 2005:2–3 who argues that it is consistent with fr. 65 Voigt and a notice in Aristides (Or. 28.51) that Sappho boasted that the Muses had made her blessed and envied and that she would not be forgotten in death. See also Hardie 2005:13–14 and Di Benedetto 1985. An example of Sappho’s continued honor in death is Posidippus’ “Doricha” poem (AB 122 = 17 GP), see Acosta-Hughes 2004:51-54, Yatromanolakis 2007:326-330 and Lidov 2002.

[ back ] 10. Gronewald and Daniel 2004a:3.

[ back ] 11. On Sappho and the cicada’s immortal voice see Janko 2005; on the cicada in Callimachus, Acosta-Hughes and Stephens 2002:251–53 and Geissler 2005. On the likelihood that Sappho and her readers knew the Hymn to Aphrodite, see Rawles 2006:1–4.

[ back ] 12. See Hammerstadt, pp. 22-24 in this volume.

[ back ] 13. Gronewald and Daniel 2005:8 say cautiously that a reference to Sappho here is possible, but not certain. In the context of the first two poems, however, what other female would be holding a lyre?

[ back ] 14. Nominatives probably describing a speaker are of uncertain gender (ἄπνους, 5) or feminine (ἔχοισα, 13). The only potential masculine is πᾶς (8), which, as the editors note, could also be read as πᾶσ’, Gronewald and Daniel 2005:11. Lundon 2007:161 observes further that the initial string of vocatives addressed to a male figure are indecisive and that the fragments include no verbal forms in the 2nd person.

[ back ] 15. On the dicola in the text of poem 3, see Gronewald and Daniel 2005:8 and the detailed analysis of the dicola here and in parallel texts in Lundon 2007:161–163 and Esposito 2005:10-11.

[ back ] 16. In addition to Sappho: ἐπίβουλος of Eros in Plato’s Symposium 203d; Eros as the “son of crafty Aphrodite,” παῖ δολομήδεος Ἀφροδίτας in Simonides 575 PMG. See Gronewald and Daniel 2005:10–11, Magnani 2005:42 n. 6, West 2005:1 and Lundon 2007:165 who adds that ἑταῖρε, 3 recalls Sappho’s female ἕταιραι.

[ back ] 17. It is thought that this poem opened the first book of the Alexandrian edition of Sappho, the work of Aristarchus which post-dates this papyrus. The importance of the poem here suggests that it also had a prominent position in an earlier edition. See Lundon 2007:164-165.

[ back ] 18. Rawles 2006b:10. Hermes steals the cattle of Apollo in the Homeric Hymn to Hermes and uses trickery and deceit to exculpate himself.

[ back ] 19. Lundon 2007:165-166 with n. 79.

[ back ] 20. Sometimes ἄπνους means “altogether dead” as in Leonidas Epigrams 15 GP and if the reading is correct, Callimachus Epigrams 14 GP, but “nearly dead” in Apollonius of Rhodes Argonautica 4.1403 where the tip of Ladon’s tail is still twitching. The Περὶ τῆς ἄπνους of Plato’s student Heracleides Ponticus featured a woman in a coma, brought back to life by Empedocles, Gottschalk 1980:11–36. See also the discussion in Gronewald and Daniel 2005:11.

[ back ] 21. Like the words of Praxilla’s dying Adonis (PMG 747:1–2), Gronewald and Daniel 2005:11. This is a conventional way of saying farewell to life.

[ back ] 22. Ziegler RE XXXV 1200–1316, West 1983, Segal 1989.

[ back ] 23. There is evidence that Orpheus and his lyre were believed to have wider powers to protect the dead generally, see West 1983:24–25, Hardie 2004:28–29.

[ back ] 24. For the impossibility of establishing the antiquity of the journey of Orpheus’ head to Lesbos see Ziegler, RE XXXV 1293-1296 and Bömer 1980:237.

[ back ] 25. On the date of Myrsilus also see Laqueur RE XXXI 1148–49 and Wilamowitz 1881:24. The citation of Myrsilus is said to be from the Ἱστοριῶν παραδόξων συναγωγή [Collection of Paradoxical Narratives] of Antigonus of Carystus who is dated by Wilamowitz 1881:16–26 to the early third century BC. More recently Dorandi 1999:XIV–XVII, following Musso, demonstrates that the Collection is a Byzantine compilation containing paradoxes extracted from a work by an Antigonus of unknown origin and date. If this is the case, as it seems to be, Myrsilus’ association with Antignous says nothing about his date.

[ back ] 26. Nightingales in Sappho herself are not obviously associated with human singers or song, e.g., “the sweet-voiced messenger of spring” (136 Voigt) and P.Oxy. 1787 6.7.

[ back ] 27. On Phanokles’ date see below, n. 32.

[ back ] 28. The text of Phanokles follows Lloyd-Jones and Barns 1990:210, 214–15.

[ back ] 29. Philostratus’ report of an oracular shrine of Orpheus on the island (VA 4.14) suggests that the tradition was older than any of them.

[ back ] 30. Lloyd-Jones and Barns 1990:210.

[ back ] 31. Stern 1979:141.

[ back ] 32. This seems to tell against the hypothesis that the third poem is Sappho’s lament for her lost lover Phaon, see Gronewald and Daniel 2005:8, n. 5 and Lundon 2007:165-166 who rejects it on other grounds.

[ back ] 33. On Phanocles and his date see Lloyd-Jones and Barns 1990:209–214, Couat 1931.103–109 and von Leutsch 1857:66 who notes that Apollonius Rhodius (Argonautica 4.905) cites Phanokles 1.1, with its metrically unusual form θρηΐκιος. We do not have exact dates for Apollonius, but he is surely mid-third century BC. Clement of Alexandria, to whom we owe this text, says that Phanokles versified an idea of Demosthenes “that death is owed to us all.” Strom. vi 750. If this is the case, Phanokles belongs to the end of the 4th or the early third century BC. His concern with aetiology, the poem’s catalog structure in explicit imitation of Hesiod and his preference for recherché mythological variants all point to the Hellenistic period generally, Lloyd-Jones and Barns 1990:210.

[ back ] 34. On Apollonius and Phanokles, Alexander 1988:17. On Phanokles’ diction, Lloyd-Jones and Barns 1990:212–213.

[ back ] 35. On Phanokles’ style, Hopkinson 1988:178–179 and Alexander 1988 passim.

[ back ] 36. Gronewald and Daniel 2005:8.

[ back ] 37. It is not clear that λιγύραν on line 7 in poem 1 modifies πᾶκτιν, a kind of lyre, but in any case the words are in close proximity.

[ back ] 38. Gronewald and Daniel 2005:8 and Lundon 2007:162–164. On P.Dryton 50, Esposito 1988 and Bing 2002, both with text and commentary.

[ back ] 39. See Lundon 2007:165-166 who considers this hypothesis unproven.

[ back ] 40. On the mixed dialect of poem 3, see Lundon 2007:155-156.

[ back ] 41. On Callimachus’ first Iamb see especially Clayman 1980:11–16, Acosta-Hughes 2002:21–59 and Kerkhecker 1999:11–48.

[ back ] 42. See Bing 1993:620 for discussion of the memorializing impulse and its manifestations.

[ back ] 43. On the reception of Sappho by Hellenistic poets see Skinner 1991, Bowman 1998, Gutzwiller 1998:85-87 and 260, Yatromanolakis 2007 passim and Acosta-Hughes, forthcoming.

[ back ] 44. For the dating and a description of the handwriting see Bastianini and Gallazzi 2001:13–17 and Stephens and Obbink 2004:11 who suggest 230–200 BC.

[ back ] 45. Krevans 2005:83–88.

[ back ] 46. Gutzwiller 2005b on the thematic divisions, and on the intricate arrangement of poems within a single division, Gutzwiller 2004.

[ back ] 47. Krevans 2005:93–95.

[ back ] 48. Krevans 2005:88–92.

[ back ] 49. On Posidippus as the sole author of the poems on P.Mil.Vogl. VIII 309 see the editio princeps, Bastianini and Gallazzi 2001:22–24 and Gutzwiller 2005a:1–3 with n. 3 containing references to contrary arguments.

[ back ] 50. On early collections of Theocritus’ Idylls and their possible dates see Gutzwiller 1996 who draws on the work of Wilamowitz, Gow, Van Sickle and others. P.Oxy. 2064 + 3548 of the late second century AD may be a copy of an early collection containing the spurious poems (Gutzwiller 1996:140). Unlike the author of poem 3, Pseudo-Theocritus composed in the same meter as Theocritus himself and probably intended that his poems would pass as Theocritus’ own. By choosing another meter, the author of poem 3 is clearly aiming at a more creative tribute.

[ back ] 51. For Id. 9 as the conclusion of a collection of Idylls see Gutzwiller 1996:125. An opposing view is in Gow 1952 vol. 2, 185 n. 1.

[ back ] 52. For a description of how 1 and 129 G-P function as an introduction and conclusion see Gutzwiller 1997:170.

[ back ] 53. On the history and nature of the text see Cameron 1993 and Gutzwiller 1998:15-16.

[ back ] 54. Radinger 1895:100–107, Wifstrand 1926. Both are reprinted in Tarán 1987.

[ back ] 55. Gutzwiller 1998:46. Gutzwiller predicts that Meleager’s techniques of arrangement could have come into use as early as the third century BC.

[ back ] 56. Gronewald and Daniel 2005:7.

[ back ] 57. Lundon 2007:157-159. See also Hammerstadt’s analysis of the hands in this volume, p. 20–22

[ back ] 58. While Lundon 2007:158–160 does not rule out the possibility that the third poem was simply added to a pre-existing roll of Sappho’s poetry, he raises important difficulties with this thesis. If 3 had been added to the end of a pre-existing collection we would expect its hand to be later than the other, and furthermore, we would expect a concluding title to occupy the blank space at the point where the hands change. He also provides examples of anthologies made by two collaborating copyists.

[ back ] 59. Lundon 2007:159-160 with n. 49.

[ back ] 60. Lundon’s (2007:159-160) suggestion that the text may in some way be connected to a symposium or similar occasion is certainly attractive. There is more work to be done on the relation between sympotic texts and early literary anthologies.

[ back ] 61. On the pre-Alexandrian editions of Sappho see Lobel 1925:xiii–xxv, Edmonds 1922 and Yatromanolakis 1999. The canonical Hellenistic edition of Aristarchus was organized by meter with the possible addition of a separate book of epithalamia. This papyrus containing two poems of Sappho and one by another author appears to confirm Yatromanolakis’ conjecture that the canonical scholarly edition of her work was not the only context in which her poems were circulated in antiquity, Yatromanolakis 1999:180 with n. 5 and Yatromanolakis 2007:278 n. 438 and 360 n. 341.