Οὔκ ἐστι Σαπφοῦς τοῦτο τὸ ᾆσμα: Variants of Sappho's songs in Athenaeus' Deipnosophistae
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Number of pages
SourceThe Journal of Hellenic Studies, 136, (2016), pp. 59-72
Article / Letter to editor
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The Journal of Hellenic Studies
Sappho and her songs became popular throughout the Greek world very soon after her death, as reflected on Attic vases, in comedies and in the many references to her songs by authors of all times. One important source for her songs, especially before the discovery of the papyri at Oxyrhynchus and elsewhere, is Athenaeus’ Deipnosophistae. This article presents a close analysis of three fragments of Sappho that were transmitted within this work, in order to establish the form of the fragments as they were incorporated by Athenaeus. Divergence from Sappho’s original need not be the result of scribal error, but may represent a variation born in performance or active reception of the poems by Athenaeus or his source. Furthermore, the fragments demonstrate that it is insufficient to describe Athenaeus’ engagement with the Lesbian dialect as atticizing. By extension, the idiosyncracies of his quotations of Sappho’s songs should be reflected in editions of the Deipnosophistae.
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