Oral Tradition and Sappho


Through an exploration of Sappho’s verse-structuring tendencies and repeated phraseology, the current essay demonstrates that Sappho’s stanzaic poetry was enabled primarily by a traditional system of composition that allowed her words to be encoded with extralexical meaning (or to use John Miles Foley’s term, “traditional referentiality”). Through a renewed appreciation of these oral traditional influences on Sappho’s poetry we thus can begin to approach an understanding of this art much closer to that held by its earliest ancient Greek audiences.

mobile close