* 630-612 BC in Lesbos, today Greece
† around 570 BC in Lesbos, today Greece
Sappho was an ancient Greek poet. She is still regarded as one of the most significant poets of her time. Sappho mainly wrote lyric poems, as well as wedding and love songs. One of her inventions was a special fourline metrical form, called the “Sapphic stanza.” Her lyric verse influenced the poetry of her time and continues to do so today. It was her rapturous love poems, though, that were the primary reason for her popularity.
Sappho is credited with nine volumes of odes, epigrams, elegies, and anthems. These books, however, are now all considered lost. It is estimated that only about seven percent of their contents have been preserved. The lore is therefore based on references and quotations from other authors, and on papyrus fragments. To this day, only four of her Eolian poems could be reconstructed with adequate certainty.
Sappho also taught female friends and students in various artistic skills, such as music, singing, dance, and poetry. Her singing school for women was renowned.
Sappho was probably married. She also had sexual relations with the women of her singing school. This later led to “Sapphic love” or “lesbian love” (from Lesbos – their island of residence) being used as terms for female homosexuality.