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Defining Greek Narrative$
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Douglas Cairns and Ruth Scodel

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780748680108

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748680108.001.0001

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Who, Sappho?

Who, Sappho?

(p.175) 9 Who, Sappho?
Defining Greek Narrative

Alex Purves

Edinburgh University Press

Greek lyric avoids the thorough, point-by-point narration characteristic of epic. Sappho engages in anti-narrative, exemplified by Aphrodite's questions in Sappho 1, which—unlike the questions gods ask in Homer, or the questions the Homeric narrator asks—are not answered. The goddess (in the past) asked who (tis) was doing wrong to Sappho, but Sappho's name appears, the name of this girl is not given anymore than is the name of the girl she loves now; even when she provides a name (as in 16), Sappho refuses to be specific, and using deictics without clarifying their referents. The traditional epic narrative conventions are a constant presence in Sappho's lyric, producing the expectation of a plot that her poems refuse to provide.

Keywords:   Epic convention, Sappho, Lyric narrative, Deictics, Questions, Anti-narrative

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