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Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Atlantic Essays, Sappho. (search)
imes for the poetry of Sappho. In respect to the abundance of laurels, she stands unapproached among women, even to the present day. Aelian preserves the tradition that the recitation of one of her poems so affected the great lawgiver Solon, that he expressed the wish that he might not die till he had learned it by heart. Plato called her the tenth Muse. Others described her as uniting in herself the qualities of Muse and Aphrodite; and others again as the joint foster-child of Aphrodite, Cupid, and the Graces. Grammarians lectured on her poems and wrote essays on her metres; and her image appeared on at least six different coins of her native land. And it has generally been admitted by modern critics that the loss of her poems is the greatest over which we have to mourn in the whole range of Greek literature, at least of the imaginative species. Now why is it that, in case of a woman thus famous, some cloud of reproach has always mingled with the incense? In part, perhaps, b