The Lesbian Lyre: Reclaiming Sappho for the 21st Century (Hardcover)
Hailed by Plato as the "Tenth Muse" of ancient Greek poetry, Sappho is inarguably antiquity's greatest lyric poet. Born over 2,600 years ago on the Greek island of Lesbos, and writing amorously of women and men alike, she is the namesake lesbian. What's left of her writing, and what we know of her, is fragmentary. Shrouded in mystery, she is nonetheless repeatedly translated and discussed--no, appropriated--by all. Sappho has most recently undergone a variety of treatments by agenda-driven scholars and so-called poet-translators with little or no knowledge of Greek.
Classicist-translator Jeffrey Duban debunks the postmodernist scholarship by which Sappho is interpreted today and offers translations reflecting the charm and elegant simplicity of the originals. Duban provides a reader-friendly overview of Sappho's times and themes, exploring her eroticism and Greek homosexuality overall. He introduces us to Sappho's highly cultured island home, to its lyre-accompanied musical legends, and to the fabled beauty of Lesbian women. Not least, he emphasizes the proximity of Lesbos to Troy, making the translation and enjoyment of Homer's Iliad and Odyssey a further focus.
More than anything else, argues Duban, it is free verse and its rampant legacy--and no two persons more than Walt Whitman and Ezra Pound--that bear responsibility for the ruin of today's classics in translation, to say nothing of poetry in the twentieth century.
Beyond matters of reflection for classicists, Duban provides a far-ranging beginner's guide to classical literature, with forays into Spenser and Milton, and into the colonial impulse of Virgil, Spenser, and the West at large.
C O N T E N T S
Guide to Pronunciation
1. Greek Lyric, Greek Epic, and Old Testament: The Quarrel of Ancients and Moderns
2. Greekless Translators, Theorizing Scholars
3. Selected Lyric Poets of Antiquity: Archilochus, Alcman, Anacreon & Ibycus
4. Sappho: Antiquity's Poetess and Ours
5. Sappho's Eroticism
6. The Loves of Men, Gods, and Primordial Forces
7. Lesbos, Troy, and Environs: The Principal Greek Genres and Dialects
8. Sappho and the "Lyric Nine," an Aesthetic for Lyric Translation
9. The Aesthetic of English-language Prosody in the Translation of Classical Verse
10. Translatability: Achieving Charm and Distinction in Translation
11. Translation as the Profession of Ignorance: Mary Bernard, Willis Barnstone, and Others
12. Translations Compared
13. Iliad, Odyssey, and Aeneid: The Epic Cycle in Progress
14. Cosmic Preservation and the Heroism of Heracles
15. Self-perpetuation and the Heroism of Troy
16. Imperishable Fame and the Evolution of Greek Epic
17. Imperishable Fame Denied: Sappho's "Wedding of Hector and Andromache"
18. Cataclysm Averted: Homer's Separation of Helen and Achilles
19. Homeric and Sapphic Meter, Metric Formulae and Oral Composition, the Origins of Rhyming Poetry, Milton on Blank Verse
20. Accentuation, sound, and Word Order in Ancient Greek Poetry
21. Growing Latin from Greek Roots, Rome's Imperial Vision and Its Aftermath
22. Equal to the Gods: Poetic Sublimity, Inner Collapse
23. Equal to a God: Form and Content in Convulsive Union
24. Frenzied Emotion, Expressive Control: Form and Content Bound
25. Modernism Wins Out: Form and Content Abandoned
26. "Freedom, Freedom, Prison to the Free" The Obfuscatory Unfettered
27. Sappho Unbound and Boundaryless--theorized, Personalized, Politicized
28. Boundaries, Artistic Fit, and What "Art" Means and Does
29. Not Making It New (or Better): Recent Iliads and Aeneids
30. So Old It's New (and Better): The Smith/Miller Hexametric Iliad
31. On Leaving Well Enough Alone: Rejecting Lattimore for R. Fitzgerald
32. Pope's Iliad and E. Fitzgerald's Rubd iy t: Pope on Chapman's Iliad
33. Versions and Perversions of Homer: R. Fitzgerald, Fagles, and Logue
34. Ezra Pound: Damage to Sextus Propertius