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Lester, E.P. (2002). Sappho of Lesbos: The Complexity of Female Sexuality. Psychoanal. Inq., 22(2):170-181.

(2002). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 22(2):170-181

Sappho of Lesbos: The Complexity of Female Sexuality

Eva P. Lester, M.D.

An Essay on Sappho. The Greek Poet. Is not only Fitting but essential in a Psychoanalytic Inquiry issue on female homosexuality. Sappho is renowned for her exceptional creativity, recognized since ancient times, but even more for her daring act of celebrating the female erotic at a time when only the male erotic was recognized and proclaimed.

Interest in Sappho has fluctuated during the over two and a half millennia since her birth. Intense interest in her and her work, which had been continuous during the classical and the Hellenistic years. was followed by long periods of relative neglect. It is not known if a biography of the poet was written during the development of the libraries of Alexandria and Pergamon, the time when such biographical writing first appeared. It was the fall of democracy and of the city of the classical period, and the appearance of political systems with powerful kings and leaders, that probably gave the impetus to the writings of such biographies. No biography of the poet survived from these sources.

As DeJean (1989) points out, The first modern recognition of Sapphc was initiated in seventeenth century France (1612-1694). She was simultaneously recreated as poet and as woman. Editors gathered together the available fragments to constitute a small body of work, but one presented as a corpus (p. 53) In recent decades, as seen by the number of scholarly treatises appearing on the subject, however, there has been a renaissance of interest in Sappho.

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