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Hera in Sappho, fr. 17 L-P, V—and Aeneid I?

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image of Mnemosyne

In current commentaries and translations, the first stanza of Sappho fr. 17 is read as a prayer for Hera's presence. This understanding was created by modifying Wilamowitz's interpretation of the fragment as a dream narrative, but it depends on an improbable use of the opening word πλασιον involves an awkward third-person periphrasis for the second-person appeal, and creates insoluble difficulties of supplementation and usage in the third line. It is more fruitful to read the stanza as a deprecation of the god's anger, as in fr. 1.1-4; a suggested reading of χαλεπην ϑυελλαν (cf.Il. 21.335) gives αραταν a meaning within its normal, somewhat pejorative connotation, and allows a more plausible reconstruction of the end of line 3; attributing the source of the Atridae's distress to Hera is consistent with a number of indications of a narrative pattern in which Hera sends disruptive storms.


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