In English
Fragment 102 of Sappho
Sappho in Greek

γλυκηα μᾶτερ ουτοι δυναμαι κρεκην τον ιστον

ποθωι δαμεισα παιδος Ϝραδινᾱν δι' Αφροδῑτᾱν.

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Book 7 of Sappho's published poetry was written in this meter. It is composed of two anacreontic measures, the first of which is missing its initial short syllable, thus creating an iambic rhythm at the start of each line of verse.



γλυκηα = γλυκεια

κρεκην = κρεκειν

Ϝραδινᾱν = ῥαδινην


Textual Note

This fragment was preserved through quotation in Hephaestion's 2nd-century digest (εγχειριδιον) of his mammoth 48-book treatise on poetic meters, Περι μετρων.

A musical setting of this verse, composed and conducted by Conrad Steinmann and performed on reconstructed period instruments, is available on CD from Harmonia Mundi in a collection entitled Melpomen: Ancient Greek Music for an Athenian Symposium of ca. 450 BC. It is a worthy addition to any library with the sole caveat that the melodic rhythm often ignores the actual length of the syllables, which might not have been the case in the original musical setting by Sappho. The instruments themselves (by Paul J. Reichlin) are the real stars of this recording, and they are illustrated in the notes that accompany the CD.

As the CD title makes clear, the Melpomen collection aims to recreate the short lyric pieces and dance numbers that would have been performed at a drinking party in Athens. For an excellent impression of the type of music that would have been heard in the tragic theater, Musique de la Grèce Antique, also from Harmonia Mundi, is highly recommended. It is based on actual musical transcriptions that have survived on fragments of papyrus and marble.