Title

Sappho's Mythic Models for Female Homoeroticism

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

12-16-2021

Department 1

Classics

Department 2

Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Abstract

This paper contends that Sappho draws upon the mythic tradition to represent female homoeroticism as queer in her poetry. First, I show how Sappho's invocation of Tithonos and Helen as erotic paradigms in fragments 58 and 16 figures female same-sex love as non-normative and shadowed by loss, while also symmetrical and idealized. Then I propose that the Homeric Andromache also informs Sappho's representation of her speakers' desires in fragments 16 and 31, and I argue that recognizing Andromache's latent example helps us to understand how Sappho, in these songs, positions female homoeroticism in painful opposition to conventional marriage.

DOI

10.1353/are.2021.0004

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