Visualizing the Cologne Sappho: Mental Imagery through Chorality, the Sun, and Orpheus

TitleVisualizing the Cologne Sappho: Mental Imagery through Chorality, the Sun, and Orpheus
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsBierl, A
EditorCazzato, V, Lardinois, A
Ancient AuthorsSappho Lyr. (TLG 0009)
Book Title The Look of Lyric: Greek Song and the Visual. Studies in Archaic and Classical Greek Song, vol. 1
Series TitleMnemosyne Supplements 391
Pagination307-342
PublisherBrill
CityLeiden
ISBN9789004314849 (ebook)
Abstract

In the Cologne papyrus poems Sappho builds her poetic discourse on very specific cultural and visual patterns that help to shape cognitive reception through mental imagery, particularly in oral performance contexts. Sappho draws on images and concepts of chorality and mythic dancing in a solar context; as cultural symbols they are in service to highlight the unifying themes of beauty, poetic and musical self-referentiality, and rejuvenation. The mention of Orpheus in the new Hellenistic poem which follows on from the text of Sappho lends additional confirmation to the metapoetic and self-referential reading of Sappho’s poem on Tithonus. Death, night, lament, love, song, music, and the cosmos—in short, all that Orphism represents—are the decisive themes that unite the fragments. The deferral of love becomes its own song in the interruption and continuation of a reperformance. The original pedagogical-didactic reception gives way to secondary receptions, determined by changing occasions of reperformance. In the fourth century BC the new performative practice even showcases a Hellenistic cult of poets and metapoetic self-consciousness. Cyclic rejuvenation and the erotic poetics of desire and absence are more constitutive than ever. Through its deep visualizing power Sappho’s songs have lived on indeed, even until they have reached us today. [http://booksandjournals.brillonline.com/content/books/b9789004314849_014]

DOI10.1163/9789004314849_014