Anne-Louis Girodet (toegeschreven aan), Sappho, ca. 1800
Anne-Louis Girodet (?), Sappho (ca. 1800)

Oἰ μὲν ἰππήων στρότον, οἰ δὲ πέσδων,
οἰ δὲ νάων φαῖσ’ ἐπὶ γᾶν μέλαιναν
ἔμμεναι κάλλιστον, ἔγω δὲ κῆν’ ὄτ-
τω τις ἔραται·
πάγχυ δ’ εὔμαρες σύνετον πόησαι
πάντι τοῦτ’, ἀ γὰρ πόλυ περσκέθοισα
κάλλος ἀνθρώπων Ἐλένα τὸν ἄνδρα
τὸν πανάριστον
καλλίποισ’ ἔβα ‘ς Τροΐαν πλέοισα
κωὐδὲ παῖδος οὐδὲ φίλων τοκήων
πάμπαν ἐμνάσθη, ἀλλὰ παράγαγ’ αὔταν
. . . . ]σαν
Κύπρις· εὔκαμπτον γὰρ [. . .
. . . κούφως τρέπεται νόησιν
κἄμε νῦν Ἀνακτορίας ὀνέμναι-
σ’ οὐ παρεοίσας,
τᾶς κε βολλοίμαν ἔρατόν τε βᾶμα
κἀμάρυχμα λάμπρον ἴδην προσώπω
ἢ τὰ Λύδων ἄρματα καὶ πανόπλοις
(Sappho, fr. 16.1-20 Campbell)

Some might call a cavalry troop the best thing
seen on dark earth, others would name the foot troops,
others still the navy, but I will say it’s
what you desire most.

This is very easy to demonstrate to
all and sundry: Helen, above all humans
judged to be the fairest, abandoned a most
powerful spouse and

sailed to Troy and neither for child nor parents
(though they loved her) worried the slightest bit, for
she was driven on by the mighty goddess
firing her passion.

Heart and will are molded by Aphrodite:
nimbly did she turn Helen’s mind.  She brings me
thoughts of Anaktoria now, a girl who’s
gone from among us.

I would rather gaze at her lovely walk and
watch the play of light on her shining face than
see those horse-drawn Lydian cars and foot troops
battling in armor.

(tr. William Berg)

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