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50 Sappho Quotes From Archaic Greece’s Famous Female Poet

These Sappho quotes are inspirational and often express her views on love and beauty.

Sappho was an Archaic Greek poet from the island of Lesbos. We know little of Sappho’s life, other than that she came from a wealthy family and had three brothers. Two of them are mentioned in the “Brothers Poem” which was discovered in 2014.

Sappho performed lyrical poetry, which was written to be sung and accompanied by a lyre. Unfortunately, most of her work has been lost over the years, except for a few excerpts and two works: “Ode to Aphrodite” and the Tithonus poem. According to the Poetry Foundation, this is likely because “Saint Gregory of Nazianzus and Pope Gregory VII ordered her works burned.”

Her poetry was so moving that people commonly referred to her as “Tenth Muse” and “The Poetess.” Sappho was quite prolific, likely having written about 10,000 lines of poetry. People admired her work, and she is among the canon of Nine Lyric Poets, a group that earned high esteem from scholars of Hellenistic Alexandria.

Sappho is still considered an outstanding poet today, with her work influencing many modern-day poets. So, if she was such a wonderful poet, why would there be people who destroyed and disparaged her work? Keep reading these Sappho quotes to find out.

Don’t forget to also check out these Nikki Giovanni quotes celebrating poetry and the human spirit.

Sappho quotes about love

1. “Once again love drives me on, that loosener of limbs, bittersweet creature against which nothing can be done.” ― Sappho

2. “Love is a cunning weaver of fantasies and fables.” ― Sappho

3. “Without warning, as a whirlwind swoops on an oak, Love shakes my heart.” ― Sappho

4. “From all the offspring of the earth and heaven, love is the most precious.” ― Sappho

5. “Love, like a mountain-wind upon an oak, falling upon me, shakes me leaf and bough.” ― Sappho

6. “Stand and face me, my love, and scatter the grace in your eyes.” ― Sappho

7. “With his venom irresistible and bittersweet, that loosener of limbs, Love reptile-like strikes me down.” ― Sappho

8. “How is a woman making love to another woman any different than a woman making love to a man?” ― Sappho

9. “It’s like always a never. The sea breaking against the rocks. The one always wanting. It’s the hardest thing loving someone who doesn’t love you.” ― Sappho

10. “The blessed Graces love to gaze at one in flowers but turn their backs on one whose hair is bare.” ― Sappho

11. “She is arrogant, like young men who are loved.” ― Sappho

Poetic Sappho quotes that will move you

12. “Eros, again now, the loosener of limbs troubles me, bittersweet, sly, uncontrollable creature.” ― Sappho

13. “I do not know what to do, my mind’s in two.” ― Sappho

14. “Their heart grew cold. They let their wings down.” ― Sappho

15. “What cannot be said will be wept.” ― Sappho

16. “You came, and I was longing for you. You cooled a heart that burned with desire.” ― Sappho

17. “Although only breath, words which I command are immortal.” ― Sappho

18. “You came, and I was crazy for you, and you cooled my mind that burned with longing.” ― Sappho

19. “You are, I think, an evening star, the fairest of all the stars.” ― Sappho

20. “And when you are gone, there will be no memory of you and no regret. For you do not share the Pierian roses, but unseen in the house of Hades you will stray, breathed out, among the ghostly dead.” ― Sappho

21. “I would not think to touch the sky with two arms.” ― Sappho

22. “May I write words more naked than flesh, stronger than bone, more resilient than sinew, sensitive than nerve.” ― Sappho

23. “If you are my friend, stand up before me and scatter the grace that’s in your eyes.” ― Sappho

24. “All the while, believe me, I prayed our night would last twice as long.” ― Sappho

25. “You are, I think, an evening star, the fairest of all the stars.” ― Sappho

26. “Come and be my girl. To feel your face and hear your footsteps, I’d give the world.” ― Sappho

27. “But the act, called the sexual act, is not for depositing of seed.” ― Sappho

28. “I have flown to you like a child to her mother.” ― Sappho

Sappho quotes about beauty, the body, and old age

29. “What is beautiful is good, and who is good will soon be beautiful.” ― Sappho

30. “Beauty endures only for as long as it can be seen; goodness, beautiful today, will remain so tomorrow.” ― Sappho

31. “A handsome man guards his image a while a good man will one day take on beauty.” ― Sappho

32. “In the crooks of your body, I find my religion.” ― Sappho

33. “I will let my body flow like water over the gentle cushions.” ― Sappho

34. “How often I lament these things. But what can you do? No being that is human can escape old age.” ― Sappho

35. “Of course, I am downcast and tremble with pity for my state when old age and wrinkles cover me.” ― Sappho

36. “Really, if you are my friend, choose a younger bed. I can’t bear to live with you when I am the older one.” ― Sappho

Inspirational Sappho quotes that will push you to be your best

37. “You may forget, but let me tell you this: someone in some future time will think of us.” ― Sappho

38. “When anger spreads through the breath, guard thy tongue from barking idly.” ― Sappho

39. “When wrath runs rampage in your heart, you must hold still that rambunctious tongue!” ― Sappho

40. “There is no place for grief in a house which serves the muse.” ― Sappho

41. “Dancing up the full moon round some fair new altar. Trample the soft blossoms of fine grass.” ― Sappho

42. “No honey for me, if it comes with a bee.” ― Sappho

43. “Power intoxicates men. When a man is intoxicated by alcohol, he can recover, but when intoxicated by power, he seldom recovers.” ― Sappho

44. “He who is fair to look upon is good, and he who is good will soon be fair also.” ― Sappho

Sappho quotes about earth and gods

45. “Now the Earth with many flowers puts on her spring embroidery.” ― Sappho

46. “Now you are a broken seal. A scarlet stain upon the earth.” ― Sappho

47. “Some say cavalry and others claim infantry or a fleet of long oars is the supreme sight on the black earth.” ― Sappho

48. “The gleaming stars all about the shining moon hide their bright faces, when full-orbed and splendid in the sky she floats, flooding the shadowed earth with clear silver light.” ― Sappho

49. “Sweet is the god, but still, I am in agony and far from my strength.” ― Sappho

50. “Death is an evil, the gods have judged. Had it been good, they would die.” ― Sappho

Which of these Sappho quotes is your favorite?

Sappho’s poetry angered ancient Christians and political leaders because of the openness in which she expressed love between women. The word lesbian is derived from Sappho’s home island on Lesbos.

Poets, scholars, and readers have discussed her importance as a poet and the quality of her poems for over a millennium. Any discussion about Sappho seems to come back to a discussion about her sexuality. As she is notably one of the first advocates for same-sex love, it is important to note.

Another thing that gets discussed, though it is of less societal importance, and more out of curiosity is speculating over what she looked like? They minted her likeness into ancient coins, but beauty is in the beholder’s eye and there are conflicting views. Most of these come from ancient men who loved to tell the world how pretty they felt women were (or were not).

Plato called her beautiful. In a written work from another man, she was deemed tiny. However, a different male account referred to her as “very ugly, being short and swarthy.” Another famous poet, Alcæus, from her home island of Lesbos, said she was a “Violet-crowned, pure, sweetly smiling Sappho.” Whatever she looked like doesn’t take away from her skill as a poet, or her history as an influential woman.

Share any other Sappho quotes and sayings you know of in the comment section below.

Danielle Dahl, Lead Contributor
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