Sappho's Mythic Models for Female Homoeroticism
Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
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.
Lesser, Rachel H. "Sappho's Mythic Models for Female Homoeroticism." Arethusa 54, no. 2 (2021): 121-161. doi:10.1353/are.2021.0004.