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“Someone, I Say, Will Remember Us”: Oral Memory In Sappho’s Poetry

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Chapter Summary

Sappho is often considered a central figure in the transition from archaic to classical Greek culture, especially by German scholars. In this chapter, the author argues that Sappho first of all expected the performances of her poetry to be remembered in the future and secondly, perhaps, believed that she would be allowed to play on as singer-poet in the underworld. The re-performance of Sappho's poetry would constitute a third way in which her name could live on. To assess the evidence, the chapter first considers the fragments adduced by those who argue for the memorization of Sappho's poetry in writing. The author suggests that the woman is not remembered because, unlike Atthis or Anaktoria, she did not participate in the performances of Sappho's songs. What the references in Sappho's poetry to her fame after death primarily entail is the memory of the performances of her songs by her near contemporaries.

Keywords: classical Greek culture; oral memory; Sappho's poetry



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