Monday, June 27, 2005

More on the Sappho Love Poem,6109,1513491,00.html?gusrc=rss
"The poem which is now her fourth to survive had a tortuous and not unromantic discovery. It was found in the cartonnage of an Egyptian mummy, the flexible layer of fibre or papyrus which was moulded while wet into a plaster-like surface around the irregular parts of a mummified wrapped body, so that motifs could be painted on. Last year two scholars, Michael Gronewald and Robert Daniel, announced that a recovered papyrus in the archives of Cologne University had been identified as part of a roll containing poems by Sappho. Researchers realised that parts of one poem corresponded with fragments found in 1922 in one of the great treasure troves of modern classical scholarship - the ancient rubbish tips of the Egyptian town of Oxyrhynchus". Many more details can be found on the above Guardian Unlimited web page.
Thanks to AKE for the pointer the the Times Literary Supplemement website which contains further details, and an extract from the poem: "We have a poem of twelve lines, made up of six two-line stanzas. The last eight lines are virtually complete. The first four are still lacking two or three words each at their beginnings. But we can make out the sentence structure and restore the sense of what is lost, if not the exact words. Here is the poem in my own restoration and translation. The words in square brackets are supplied by conjecture. "[You for] the fragrant-blossomed Muses’ lovely gifts [be zealous,] girls, [and the] clear melodious lyre: [but my once tender] body old age now [has seized;] my hair’s turned [white] instead of dark; my heart’s grown heavy, my knees will not support me, that once on a time were fleet for the dance as fawns. This state I oft bemoan; but what’s to do? Not to grow old, being human, there’s no way. Tithonus once, the tale was, rose-armed Dawn, love-smitten, carried off to the world’s end, handsome and young then, yet in time grey age o’ertook him, husband of immortal wife."

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