A lecture by Barbara Grazioso, Professor of Classics, Princeton University
Two images of Sappho dominate scholarly discussions of her work: the poet as chorus leader, immersed in the ritual life of her community and engaged in the here-and-now of performance (e.g. Calame 1977, Lardinois 2014) and Sappho the introspective author of poetry ‘written for a woman to sing to herself’ (Stehle 1997: 295). This paper proposes a new approach to Sappho’s work based on the concept of the network, understood as ‘a system of interconnected people and things’. Building on recent insights on the pragmatics of Sappho’s songs (D’Alessio, 2018) and on the maritime orientation of Lesbos’ economy (Kowalzig, forthcoming), this paper aims to shed light on Sappho’s oeuvre, its intertexts, social functions, and early reception – by showing how it drew strength from, and in turn helped reinforce, well-articulated networks extending across the sea.