Fragments of poems

Sappho was born on the island of Lesbos in the seventh century BC. Little is known for certain about her life, but she was the most celebrated lyric poet of the day, and Plato is said to have referred to her as the ‘tenth muse’. Her work, however, only survives in fragments. Just one poem from the nine books of poetry she is known to have written is now complete, as a quotation in an essay on literary composition. Parts of other poems exist either as quotations or on pieces of papyrus, as seen here. It was unearthed at the end of the nineteenth century from an ancient rubbish dump belonging to the Egyptian city of Oxyrhynchus, which yielded a vast number of papyrus fragments.

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In Greek, fragments from a papyrus roll, in a frame 255 x 305 mm