Sapfo was born in Eresos. She was also involved in politics following the island’s tradition that allowed women to actively participate in local affairs. She was also exiled to Sicily and returned to Lesvos to open a dance and music school. Sapfo and Alcaeos are considered to be the founders of lyric poetry, a kind that combines music with rhyme.
Simplicity and power are the main characteristics of Alcaeos’s poetry, whilst his contribution to Greek and Latin lyric poetry has been largely appreciated. The themes characterizing the poetry of Sapfo – who is even to the present day referred to as the best lyric poet since antiquity and thereafter – derive their content from day – to – day life and human feelings, while her poems are renowned for their graceful expressiveness, wise compositional style and effortless sentiment.
Unlike the poetry of Alcaeos, Sapfo writes her poems inspired by her private and personal life: they are all products of her thinking over human relationships and the problems of her social circle and environment. Her sentimental world unfolds before the reader’s eyes and it is not a rare occasion for the poet to disclose private details, reaching to the point of confession. Sapfo managed to reveal new aspects of the human soul, based on personal experiences that taught her not only to recognize human feelings, but also to make them vividly visible. Thus, her great talents became evident: the ability of self- observation, her sharp eye, her expressiveness as well as the rare ability to accept and incorporate all kinds of stimulants – either these were coming from her environment, the nature or instantaneous impressions – which she then turned into poems.