Aristotle and sappho (To the interpretation of one Poetic dialogue from Rhet. 1367a7-15)

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In the article, I prove that the dialogical ritual obscene songs, in which Sappho "scolds" (elenchei) Gorgo and Andromeda, are the closest parallel to Aristotle's poetic dialogue of Sappho with Alcaeus (cf. Sapph. Frr. 68(a), 70, 145, 99(a) etc. Campbell; cf. Max Tyr., 18. 9 (p. 230s.) Hobein). Also I prove that this poetic dialogue was most likely included in the text of the "Rhetoric" in mid-340s., when Aristotle and his young wife Pythias were living in Mytilene. Aristotelian verb tetimekasin indicates that, even in his time, these Sapphic dialogical songs had traditionally been performed in Mytilene during religious festivals (cf. SEG XV, 517, 16-19; Schol. In Pind. Nem. II, schol. 1c, 8 etc.). It becomes clear that Aristotle, while quoting this dialogue of Sappho with Alcaeus, seeks to "elevate" Sappho over the obscene songs of the Mytilenean ritual chorus, leaving all the responsibility for aischrologia entirely with Alcaeus (cf. Arist. Pol. 1336b4-7).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)122-136
Number of pages15
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018


  • Mysteries of Artemis in Mytilene
  • Poetic quotations in Aristotle's Rhetoric
  • Pythias and Aristotle in Mytilene
  • Sappho and Aristotle
  • mysteries of Artemis in Mytilene




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