Sappho: Breaking Barriers


Sappho: Breaking Barriers 

Through scarce fragments and poems from antiquity, Sappho, considered to be the first female lesbian writer. Who arose in modern times with the same impact that she had in Sixth Century Greece. During which, her love poems about other women broke the restraints of literature and sexuality. At the time by expressing her femininity, lesbian desires and emotions. Initially, her unparalleled writing style was viewed as a negative aspect of ancient Greek life, seeing as men and their words dominated. Yet the technique of her poems would eternally alter the way that people viewed, experienced and documented their emotions. As Sappho’s poetry was an eye opener to the intensity of everyday feelings. 

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The Tenth Muse

An internet search of “famous greek writers” displays results that are mainly composed of males, however Sappho is among them. And she has earned her place there. Sappho is one of, if not the only female writer that has survived past antiquity and become as renowned as Homer. In fact, Plato regarded her as the “Tenth Muse” and Sappho broke the restraints of being a female writer to claim that title. By tearing down her barriers, she left a mark that made her the first female writer known to Western civilization.

Lyric Poetry

When someone recalls ancient Greek literature, long epics of war and heroics usually come to mind. However, Sappho took a completely different route when it came to her poems, and that was the key to her success. She looked within and pulled words from her emotions, unlike other Greek writers. Because of this style of writing, she now has a form named after her, called the Sapphic verse. Sappho was one of the first love poets of Western literature and her poems are still adored due to their romantic themes. 


Homophobia is an issue still being tackled today, therefore it is not a surprise that it also took root in ancient Greece. While many heterosexual acts were dipicted in literature. There is a scarce amount of homosexual acts, which was a barrier that Sappho had to break. By writing love poems about other women, and being one herself, she took a great risk through her literature. Sappho ultimately faced homophobia and wrote, not to be brought down, but to raise herself up.

Ultimately, Sappho was correct when she wrote, “And when I die I shall not be forgotten.”

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