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of Sappho, conjured up a certain Phaon, with whom she might be enamored, and left her memory covered with stains such as even the Leucadian leap could not purge.
Finally, since Sappho was a heathen, a theologian was found at last to make an end of her; the Church put an apostolic sanction upon these corrupt reveries of the Roman profligate, and Tatian, the Christian Father, fixed her name in ecclesiastical tradition as that of an impure and love-sick woman who sings her own shame.
Tatian, Adv. Grecos, c. 33.
Ovid, Heroid., 15.61-70.
The process has, alas!
plenty of parallels in history.
Worse, for instance, than the malice of the Greek comedians or of Ovid — since they possibly believed their own stories — was the attempt made by Voltaire to pollute, through twenty-one books of an epic poem, the stainless fame of his own virgin country-woman, Joan of Arc. In that work he revels in a series of impurities so loathsome that the worst of them are omitted from the common edition