Feminism and the Classics: Apollo and Dionyses, 1974, page 4

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          Sappho has been placed in her own special category. Aristotle, while
admitting her genius, places her as a "tenth Muse“ rather-than among

the list of poets. Although homosexual episodes were frequently described
by ancient authors, Sappho is known solely for her work in this area.
Thus, Gregory of Nazianzos committed her verses to the fire in 380 A.D.
Pope Gregory the I: burned what remained in l073 A.D. And I would submit
that contemporary embarrassment has continued the burnings by relegating
Sappho to a dialect curiosity, a forerunner of Catullus» or simply, and
more frequently, a divertissement in lyric poetry.

' ;§appho is to ancient literature what Aspasia and Cleopatra are to


.ancient,history.V Aspasia, the consort of Pericles, continuesito be blamed

for the corruption of Pericles and the Peloponnesian war, as eristophanes
charges in Acharnians 5l5-539. Very little has been done by flay of
attempting to reconstruct her political strategy. Likewise, Cleopatra,
the monstra of Egypt according to Vergil and Horace is seen mdre in her
aspect.as Elizabeth Taylor than as a political leader in her dwn right.
Even such a basic tome as the Oxford Classical Qictionary concentrates

I .
on Cleopatra's role as sex object in its entry on her. “She was attractive

rather than_beautiful, with a lively temperament and great charm of,

‘speech : . . ._ She was not sexually lax, associating, to our knowledge,

only with Caesar and Antony. But, despite loyalty to Egypt, this does

not mean she was disloyal or exploited them for political ends. with

men of their stamp, the contrary is probable." Clearly, something must

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be done to develop a view of Cleopatra more as the statesman and monarch

she was and less as the nubile girl rolled out of a carpet at Caesar's feet;