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Open Access 1 Transmission and Textual Variants: Divergent Fragments of Sappho’s Songs Examined

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1 Transmission and Textual Variants: Divergent Fragments of Sappho’s Songs Examined

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Chapter Summary

The texts that we regard as the "classics" of classical literature in this period were primarily works to be performed; be it the Homeric epics, the dramas by Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides, or the lyric songs composed by Pindar, Alcaeus, or indeed Sappho, who composed songs on Lesbos in the sixth century BC. The texts are very fragmentary, represent only one facet of the original performance of Sappho's songs, and are separated from the date of composition by a physical gap of at least three centuries, which raises the question: How may such inevitably compromised sources for Sappho's songs serve classical philologists? A tentative answer requires first a survey of the traditional philological research on the fragments of Sappho. Adducing two quotes of Sappho in second-century AD sources, the author probes the possibilities offered by, and challenges posed to, New Philology in the field of classics.

Keywords: Aeschylus; classical literature; Euripides; New Philology; Sappho's songs; Sophocles



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