Classical Studies
CLA 9-264-2004

Women in Antiquity

Excerpts of Sappho's Dramatic Monologue, a first-person fictional narrative

by Marie Schutte

You see, I never had the erotic sexual relationships with other women that many have written about in books about me. The reason behind my poetry addressing women is fairly easy to explain. Because women were not able to have friendships with men besides their husbands, we would spend most our time when our husbands were gone with other women. In a time when women had little freedom and were unable to even fall in love and marry a man they desired on their own, we became a type of support system for one another. Our friendships developed into a strong love for one another and I used this love for my friends as inspiration for much of my poetry. I also used my family, my appreciation of nature, my imagination, and of courses my amazing natural talent to create beautiful lyrics.
I know all of you have read some of my poetry that I wrote when I was alive. As my gift to each of you, I wrote each of you a poem just as I would do for my friends long ago. However, my poetry is thousands of years old, therefore only fragments remain of each of your poems. I believe with your experience reading my earlier work you will still be able to understand each poem and although I don't always use your specific name in your fragment, I hope my descriptions and stories reveal which poem is yours.


Woman of the cute black and white capris
blessed our class with her deep Christian faith . . .
In the humid heat she called us all
to sit upon the hard cool floor . . .

Her loony state when deprived of sleep
lets us all enjoy tender laughter . . .
For she is a ray of light
on our dark days . . .


Young lady of high school no more . . .
In her home she will rejoice
with a joyous feast as custom to the islands of

Of the many hours we are together she
sits quietly among us . . .
With hair shorter than the day
we first came


Hair like the golden sun
Sweet and kind . . .
Stood before us with
pictures for us to see of tools once used . . .

Our stomachs turning . . .
Thoughts of times long ago
We'll never really understand
how . . .


Always she bounces, she sings, she laughs . . .
joyously and sparkling
Knowing a language I many may never
. . .

She shared with us her knowledge of
bearing youth . . .
through a birthing chair hole.
One must catch . . .


She wears the dress of colorful frogs
and wraps her hair in colors of blues and purples . . .
Glasses black as the darkest
night . . .

My eyes wander to the familiar sight of the
needle dancing through the air
Swiftly creating beautiful garments
Her talent . . .


I met a girl who could
fall into sleep in any place . . . .
and dreamed more easily than any other
I've encountered . . .

She speaks an exotic language
many a herder must desire . . .
Knowing she was being pursued, but not knowing
why they followed . . .


Confusion set inside my mind . . .
Calls which I never received . . .
Not knowing why
I was lost . . .

Amazing as it was
a lady by the same name living
in a room that was mine not a year ago
Pauley 409 . . .


In the early dawn of morning
her breath runs away from her
Attacking within her chest she
wheezes . . .

Once leaving behind her book
I ran after her like the wind . . .
Calling out to her in the library I exclaimed
"Sweet maiden I have your" . . .


Many a late night
she sat alone under the light of a light
Helping others perfect their writing
Such wisdom . . .

Far away she is from us now . . .
unable to share the splendor of our last days
We admire her courage spreading
Peace . . .

For my last poem I want to first read to you the "Hymn to Aphrodite" which you have all heard before. I believe you will find many similarities in the one I have written for you today and the one I wrote many years ago.

Hymn to Aphrodite

O immortal Aphrodite of the many-colored throne,
child of Zeus, weaver of wiles, I beseech you,
do not overwhelm me in my heart
with anguish and pain, O Mistress,

But come hither, if ever at another time
hearing my cries from afar
you heeded them, and leaving the home of your father
came, yoking your golden

Chariot: beautiful, swift sparrows
drew you above the black earth
whirling their wings thick and fast,
from heaven's ether through mid-air

Suddenly they had arrived; but you, O Blessed Lady,
with a smile on your immortal face,
asked what I had suffered again and
why I was calling again

And what I was most wanting to happen for me
in my frenzied heart: "Whom again shall I persuade
to come back into friendship with you? Who,
O Sappho, does you injustice?

"For if indeed she flees, soon will she pursue,
and though she receives not your gifts, she will give them,
and if she loves not now, soon she will love,
even against her will."

Come to me now also, release me from
harsh cares; accomplish as many things as my heart desires
to accomplish; and you yourself
be my fellow soldier.

Hymn not to Aphrodite

O mortal John of the many colored shirts
Professor of classics, I beseech you
Do not overwhelm myself and the rest of the class in our hearts
With anguish and pain over our grades, O professor,

But come hither, if ever at another time
Hearing our cries over our assignments
You helped us get through, and leaving the home of your family
Came, in your deep red

Mini-van: beautiful, swift automobile
Which we left at your home above the black earth
Whirling then when we left for the museum
From Cornell College to Cedar Rapids

Suddenly we had arrived; but you, O Blessed Professor
With a smile on your mortal face,
Asked where or where was Marie
Oh no, we left her behind

And for what we had done we felt so horrible
In our frenzied hearts: "How could we have left her?
To not now come to the art museum? Who,
O John, did her this injustice?"

"For if indeed she is upset, soon she will be happy,
and though she cannot enjoy the exhibit, she will receive a gift,
and if she loves us not now, soon she will love,
even against her will."

Come to us now, Marie, release us from
Harsh cares, accomplish as many things as our hearts desire
To accomplish, and you yourself
Forgive us and be our friend again.

Maintained by: Last Update: July 15, 2008 8:39 am

Professor John Gruber-Miller
CLA 9-264-2004
Women in Antiquity

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