Sappho is Worth More Than A Discussion of Her Sexuality

A Historiographical Analysis


  • Julia de Milliano Department of History & Classics, University of Alberta



Previous scholarship has overanalyzed Sappho’s object preference more than her male counterparts. By examining the historiographical analyses of Sappho, as well as the progression of ideas throughout these analyses, we can easily see what past scholars have focused on, Sappho’s sexuality, and the inherent biases they have brought to the table. Sappho is worth more than her sexuality; it is important to study Sappho’s work within her social and cultural context in order to examine how her poetry was received in her own time as well as how her writing may reflect the values of her society. The methodology we use when we approach Sappho must be altered. Rather than debating Sappho’s sexuality based on modern biases, it is important to examine the language used within her poems to understand Sappho in her own context. The goal of this article is not to analyze a different aspect of Sappho. Rather, it aims to review past literary studies to show how there has been a problematic focus on Sappho’s sexuality, and that there is more knowledge to glean regarding antiquity if such focus is set aside.






Social Sciences & Humanities