Monday, February 22, 2016

Reminder! For This Week!

ONE: Choose a text from our assigned readings that you think you want to write your 4-5pp. paper on, any text up to Plato's "Symposium" (which we'll be discussing next week). If you choose to write about Sappho poems, you have to write about poems you didn't discuss in your first assignment.
TWO: Read and understand the short Four Habits of Argumentative Writing handout.
THREE: Do NOT miss this class and arrive ON TIME. The work we do this Wednesday is compulsory and cannot be done on your own or made up.

See you all soon. Hope you had good weekends. Read ahead to the Symposium if you think you might want to write about a different text than the ones we've talked about together so far.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

10  Sweet Apple (105a, 105c, B93,B94)
I greatly appreciate sappho’s song Sweet Apple. This short melody signifies to me the struggle to break the mold of social norms or expectations of society as a woman. The line “You’re just like the sweet apple” gives me the reader a wonderful sense of beauty and yearning for that apple which is unreachable. Most people I believe have had a feeling such as wanting something in life but cannot have. I can recall times when I could see that apple ever so slightly out of my reach, and yet I reached for it only to be disappointed by coming up short by a few meager inches. Sappho is able to stimulate the manifestations of our desire and a sense of wholeness. While this Apple ripens and becomes mature it realizes its beauty and greatness such as a strong independent woman. This notion, for a woman to be to be unattainable to picker is wonderful. The strength and position and the clarity in this short song brings forward  the greatness of a strong Woman and the power she possesses. “They did not miss you!”   The pickers only gawked at ripeness of her beauty. This Apple is not a Rebel of the orchard whom looks down at the picker. This apple just has not conformed to being plucked ever so easily by the hands of the greedy/Society. I greatly respect this short piece for the emotions it evoked in me.  I  feel Sappho’s clarity and ability to transmit feelings of desire and love in such eloquence.
26 Wealth (249, 80B, 92D)
"Wealth without virtue is not an innocent neighbour
But, mix them together and you have the very best of fortunes!”
I am extremely interested in this text and how it plays such a crucial roll in life. Wealth can be a good or bad thing. “Wealth without virtue is not an innocent neighbor” attaining wealth through a means of war or destruction will bring no good on the doer of that act. Unfortunately I feel that times have not changed all that much in relation to having a Neighbor in whom you trust gained a level of wealth honestly. A person or Country who attains a level of prosperity through a high moral standard stands is on a solid ground. You can’t expect that gaining wealth through vile acts to be respected. In regards attaining wealth through a practice of high moral rectitude I will agree you will have fortuity.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Posted for Marco Castaneda


            When I initially started looking at poems by the late Sappho, I was a bit put off by the first few poems I read. The first few poems I came upon seemed to be glorifications of her male/godly crushes, like a school-girl who fantasizes about having her first kiss.  The poems seemed to counter what I thought the class was about, so I kept looking.  I came upon a poem called “Before They Were Mothers,” and it stuck with me.
The poem is a short, four-lined prose that is loaded with tales of strife and violence. The poem reads as, “Before they were mothers, Leto and Niobe, had been the most, devoted of friends.” At first glance, the poem pokes at my inquisitive nature, and presses me to ask more questions about the context of the poem. Who were Leto and Niobe? Were they lovers? Why would having children strain their relationship? I then thought of the more innocent scenarios as to why they would suddenly terminate their friendship. I thought of gender norms and expectations placed on mothers. Maybe they could no longer go out for drinks because their kids had sports to be at. Were they soccer moms who no longer had time for kinship due to the expectation that as mothers, their kids’ lives and activities are more important than their own happiness and need for social interaction? I had too many questions to not study more on the subject, so I worked the Google machine and dug deeper.
I researched more on the relationship between Niobe and Leto, and found some interesting drama between the two. Niobe was the princess of Tantalus, who was best-friends with the goddess Leto. One day, Niobe was bragging about the number of children she had, 14, and how great and perfect they were to Leto. Leto, having only two children, Artemis and Apollo, became very jealous that Niobe had both more and wonderful children. It is a little strange that gods and humans could be so close as to get jealous of one another, especially because a god is a GOD, who has magical powers and doesn’t have to suffer mortality, but alas, that is the scenario. Leto has her children, Artemis and Apollo, kill Niobe’s sons and daughters. Niobe, grief-stricken, runs back to her mountain and turns into stone.  The story is honestly, extremely dramatic and the cause of the violence is downright petty. I was quite annoyed at how petty the story was because it truly seemed like a bad episode of The Real Housewives of Orange County.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Posted for Ruth McCrary

Sappho Response

I will admit that my mental approach to this assignment was to just “get it
over with” so to speak, but I was actually moved by one of the poems I found.
The poem is called On What Is Best, and is, not too surprisingly, a love poem.
However, the part that moved me personally is what the poem is saying about
love; that it is the “best” thing. The poem begins with mentioning other aspects in
life, from the time period, that are thought of as great or glorious such as knights
and ships battling at sea. It then goes on to express that while these experiences
or events are valued by some, the speaker of the poem does not value them.
The speaker refers to these instead as military spenders that should not be
thought of as something loved above all else. An interesting aspect about this
moment in the poem is how the speaker seems to be addressing the reader as if
to say that we should also not value these military experiences above all else.
The speaker then begins to talk about Helen and how her beauty was unmatched
as was her life with her royal husband and child. However she left this life to take
the “a strangers hand” because of love. The speaker then goes on to say what I
believe to be the theme or lesson of the poem which is “love then is the power
that none can disobey”. I will admit that using an example of the supposedly most
beautiful women of all time leaving royalty to be with a stranger solely for love is
a pretty good way to make that argument. This is all lovely then, very nice
statement about love indeed, but then I began to wonder why the speaker was
talking about this, and I got my answer in the last bit of the poem. “So too my
thoughts must follow my darling far away”, thats it then, the speaker is longing for
their own love that is, of course, out of reach. This also explains why the speaker
chose to use Helen as the example. Unfortunately at this point the poem began
to make me feel a bit un-optimistic because the speaker did not say they would
travel to find their darling. Instead the speaker talks about their thoughts following
their love. This is a shame but it does put a more realistic essence in the poem,
which I suppose may have been a little too cheesy without it. Anyway this hint of
realism still does not take away from the statement of the poem, which the
speaker states one last time. “The sparkle of her laughter would give me greater
joy than all the bronze-clad heroes”, to be perfectly honest this is not my favorite
poem of all time, but as someone who strongly agrees that love is the most
important and powerful experience, I value this poem.

Posted for Yuxin Zhou

Her poems seems to the beginning of feminism. In And as for me (Edm.118a), she admired the beauty and nature, for her, materials items were not luxury but the nature, and she treated herself as one of the beautiful things. 
But I sleep Alone (Edm. 62), this poem has a potential for feminism. In ancient Greek, female usually get married at a very young age, and they usually have husband and kids around them by the age of 15. But for Sappho, she suggested independence in this poem.   
In the poem Ode to Aphrodite (Edm. 1, 191 IB. et D), she wrote a very direct description of her sexuality that suggested a lesbian desire. Sappho called Aphrodite to help her get the attention of another woman. She made it unclear that the person she desired was Aphrodite. Sappho was the first recognized lesbian poet, and she was the first poet who described personal love and the heart break of love. That is a brave thing to do in ancient Greek, especially as a woman.  
She also made the same suggestion in A company of soldiers (27aD, 195P). Ancient Greek was a patriarchal society, solders were the symbol of honor. But for Sappho she would rather be in the presence of the woman she loved than in presence of soldiers. All of these poems show her admires towards female and female energy. 
Many of her poems were very simple and direct, and open to a interpretation. Such as Honey or Bee (146)The sky (209, 37B, 47D), and Wealth (249, 80B, 92D). These poems were describing the daily life details, she shows her sensitivity as a woman. In The sky (209, 37B, 47D), there only has one sentence but it could be understand in many different ways. She said her hands could never touch the sky. It could be interpreted as Sappho was a prisoner of her body. Her body was limited but her soul was free. It could also be interpreted as a resist to patriarchal.

News Items


Wanted to be sure everybody saw that I switched a couple of readings on the syllabus. The piece by Gorgias was already there and that is still the key reading for Tuesday. But I moved a short piece called the Melian Dialogue up into our class this Tuesday as well. I had a feeling our discussion of the play in the next week's meeting might have gotten in the way of our giving that piece the attention it deserves so we'll do it this week instead. It's short.


Not everybody has handed in last week's assignment yet. Why is that? A couple of you came late to the class, but none of you can get behind, so get on it NOW. Anybody who still hasn't done this work by the time we meet Tuesday risks getting kicked out of the class. Do not get behind, please. If you have questions, ask them. If you can't post the material, send it to me and I'll post it for you. These assignments aren't optional. Do I need to repeat that? Not. Optional.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Sappho Poetry Reading Response

In the beginning stanza of Sappho’s poem, It Seems to me, Sappho begins mid-scenario speaking of two people she is watching. After my first read through, I got the impression Sappho was speaking of two people, one man and the other a woman. Sappho commonly writes poetry about or relating to lesbians, Sapphic poetry, and the woman seems to be the object of Sappho’s affection within the poem. Sappho first refers to the way in which the woman “seems” to feel about the man she is with as “equal to the gods,” relating her look as one of devotion and adoration. She then describes that the man this woman adores, “sits within the scope of [her] sweet voice and of [her] laughter which stirs the heart within my breast.” From this first stanza it is made clear the woman Sappho is watching is an object of Sappho’s affection. Even before the definitive line “which stirs the heart within my breast,” there are references to Sappho having some sort of affection towards the woman. The language Sappho uses such as “sweet” to describe the woman’s voice generates a sensual tone of taste or smell to her speech. Her laughter being mentioned also symbolizes an importance of sound and queues the audience of the poem to it being something specific for Sappho about this woman.
The next stanza reveals more of a distance between Sappho and this other woman, “Seeing you like this, even for a second, stops the sighs within me.” The translation punctuations create a pause as written text giving emphasis to these lines. Sappho seeing this woman pauses her pain. However in the next stanza she begins with “Yet,” turning her emotions and following with, “my tongue freezes and beneath my skin a fire rages and… my eyes are empty but my ears are full.” She no longer is lovingly descriptive but instead describe a heat of rage coming over her. A feeling she describes as a “torrent of sweat and wild tremor”.

She ends the poem with a shorter stanza, “I’ve turned the colour of drying grass just before death,” creating imagery of passing and fading. The transition of grass becoming lifeless mirrors her transitions of emotions. She is jealous of the man receiving the affections of the person who “stirs the heart within [her] breast” and describes the fleeting moment of love for someone as she also is filled with a burning rage of jealousy. I take her final lines as her comparison of death as a metaphor for her heartbreak in this seeming moment.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Sappho Reading

Marisa Khachadoorian
Dale Carrico
Sappho Poetry Reading
“Neither for me the honey nor the bee”  Sappho wrote this ages prior to my existence, yet, despite the numerous possible interpretations, I felt a great and important and relevant connection to this poem. One translation of this uses certain language that, although not very lengthy or complicated in terms of linguistics, the meaning can change entirely in just the addition of a single word.  
“I need neither the honey nor the bee.” I find ‘need’ to be the most significant word in this interpretation, because it drastically changes the intent I interpreted from the original.  I find the more vague aspect of the original translation to allow for a number of possible interpretations.  Without the word need, this poem could easily be read as describing the longing of desire of something in which Sappho is lacking.  This could be taken literally or figuratively, in that of the honey and the bee, or their representing of something different.  If metaphorical, I viewed the bee and the honey as potentially a statement on patriarchy, in that of the phallic qualities of a bee, or the reproductive associations with pollination and the producing of pollen into honey, or even simply the desire of honey as a sweet commodity.  If the word ‘need’ is involved, it is speaking from a place of independence, potentially abstaining from indulging in sexual desire or supposed resources a man could typically provide a woman in a hetero-normative, misogynistic type of relationship.  This triumph of will that Sappho could be writing about is only one interpretation, but could be the reason that ‘need’ is necessary to include in a translation, so as to evoke feelings of triumph.  

I also see the possibility of an entirely different reading on this poem, in relation to desire for what she does not have: the honey nor the bee, or rather a man and the benefits of such a relationship.  Seeing as the way in which women were regarded at the time in ancient Greece, and how highly regarded men were, it would come as no surprise to find hints of patriarchal submission in Sappho’s poetry.  Because she is one of the very few women of this time whose work was regarded at all, I can understand the potential of her writing poetry about refraining or rising above the patriarchal standards and not needing a man (bee) to do so.

The Poetry of Sappho

   I wish I know how to read Greek, speak it, listen to it, understand; and understand how the ancient Greeks communicate with their language and literature. There are walls that separates the poet, the poetry, and the audience and I find this case to be apparent with the contemporary translation of Sappho's poems. There are various translation of her poetry and various interpretation, this brings me to the first point that I made; I wish I know greek (or at least, know know it better). Nonetheless as far as they go, her poems are beautiful, to me they seem delicate, honest, and bold. I wonder if she writes them for the sake of writing them or for the sake of getting them across to her intended audiences (could be both). I think that it's interesting how a lot of her poems have something to do with excusing herself to feel the way she feels, a lot of them about romance and love. Her words are as beautiful as her approach and the ingredient that she brings to the table. She also composed and structured her poems beautifully.

Here's one that I really like

Tonight I've watched
the moon and then
the Pleiades
go down

The night is now
half-gone; youth
goes; I am

in bed alone

Sappho Reading

     Sappho has always been a large influence in how I come to form a lot of my own poetry. I wish more original pieces existed. As I was reading I couldn't stop myself from thinking about how Sappho would have actually physically put the words on the page. How, if when she was painting images with words, were the words also an image...(?) themselves? Was there punctuation? The relationship to the words and the physical space of the page is a crucial element to understanding any poetry, but especially in this instance would have greatly heightened the experience. I am also curious to know about the translations of Sappho's work.
      In any case, Sappho makes me incredibly sad. The poem that has resonated with me the most over the past week was #4 on the website "It Seems To Me." She is so soft, and seemingly powerless in this situation of seeing a woman she has feelings for with a man. She feels so deeply for this woman that she says in her first line "It seems to me he is equal to the Gods," that this woman depicted is so unobtainable that only a mythical being could capture her. It seems also strange to me that a man is the subject of a whole entire stanza. How he entirely captures the attention and love of the girl Sappho refers to. This stanza seems entirely out of place in this poem and a lot of her poems. The scene she is seeing, describing almost has no meaning. In the next stanza it seems that maybe for a moment Sappho is fine with watching from a distance, that seeing her happy "stops the sighs within me." Following this statement are many lines of almost.. despair. She is frozen in this moment, unable to talk she describes her skin burning "a fire rages" depicting anger, maybe in herself that she feels so helpless. She is clearly showing jealousy, she loves a girl who does not, could not lover her back and is now in the company of a man, and envy of the man for having what she would give up her life to have (penis). Her language is incredibly real, it is very to the point which is an element of her work that i enjoy because it is not coated in 50 layers of literary traditions. But in this poem Sappho plays a lot with the passage of time, or not at all. Her use of the phrase "he/she seems" makes time seem indefinite, that possibly there is no physical scene actually unfolding infront of Sappho but that maybe it is an illusion. Possibly Sappho has seen this scenario before but now continues to replay the moment in seeming tourment.  Maybe fair to say that this poem is a dedication to Sappho's feelings.

Austin Schermerhorn, On Fragment 16 by Sappho (trans. Mary Barnard)

"You are the herdsmen of evening

Hesperus, you herd
homeward whatever
Dawn's light dispersed

You herd sheep--herd
goats--herd children
home to their mothers"

In Sappho’s hymnic fragment, she invokes Hesperus, Greek god who acts as the personification of the ‘Evening Star’, which we now know as the planet Venus. Hesperus is the son of Eos, the personification of the dawn, and half-brother to the Morning Star, Phosphorus.
In a beautiful, evocative manner, Sappho is detailing the effects of twilight; rather than describing the dwindling light itself, she is detailing its consequences, brought through the personification of the Evening Star. Whatever the day had brought, whatever tribulations or exaltations dawn had shown to man, twilight is now herding, collecting the vestiges of the day and ultimately sinking them into darkness once more. With light humans become active in the world, and for better or for worse they live and grow in the light: they venture away from home when Dawn’s light is dispersed. With the cursory, non-descript “whatever” in line 4, Sappho seems less interested in the different spectra of lives and days that humans have, and more interested in the preparation for the after, that which makes us all alike in our end. The arrival of the Evening Star in the half-light seems then to be the beckoning call for a return home (for the children), and a return to safety and enclosure (for the sheep), a signal for sleep and an awaiting of the first hint of morning, for Hesperus’s half-brother Phosphorus (which is also incidentally the planet Venus). This recurrent nature of the planet Venus, which was thought to the Ancient Greeks to be two separate celestial bodies, shows the repetition of the day and also for life in general, that for a while something is shown--gradually light is thrown on the day or on the life of a human, and then soon enough, sometimes too soon, the light dwindles again and the herdsman of evening quietly escorts us home and ushers in the still night. But after the Evening Star, the Morning Star always rises to signal a nearing dawn, so perhaps, if Sappho is suggesting death as well as twilight in this poem, we must only wait to view Hesperus’ half-brother, and thus a new dawn.