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Erôs in Ancient Greece$
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Ed Sanders, Chiara Thumiger, Christopher Carey, and Nick Lowe

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199605507

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199605507.001.0001

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Love’s Battlefield: Rethinking Sappho Fragment 31

Love’s Battlefield: Rethinking Sappho Fragment 31

Chapter:
(p.59) 5 Love’s Battlefield: Rethinking Sappho Fragment 31
Source:
Erôs in Ancient Greece
Author(s):

Armand D’Angour

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199605507.003.0005

This chapter explores the way erôs in Sappho’s surviving oeuvre is presented as the site of passionate conflict akin to that faced by Homeric heroes, and proposes that Sappho’s famous fragment 31, ‘That man seems like the gods to me’, was composed with this in view. Following the previous reconstruction of a coda for fr. 31 using Catullus' Latin version (poem 51) as evidence, it is here argued that several more stanzas must have followed the surviving poem. A careful reconsideration of the words with which fr. 31 breaks off is combined with overlooked clues drawn from Catullus' only other poem in Sapphics (C. 11) to trace out a possible trajectory for the lost ending. The resulting reconstruction depicts erôs as offering the prospect, as does battle, of facing and resisting anguish and mortal danger, so as to obtain the much-desired prize of love.

Keywords:   Sappho Fr. 31, Homeric, battlefield, Catullus C. 11, reconstruction, danger, prize

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