Hymn to Aphrodite
by Sappho (her only complete poem)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch
Immortal Aphrodite, throned in splendor!
Wile-weaving daughter of Zeus, enchantress, and beguiler!
I implore you, dread mistress, discipline me no longer
with love's anguish!
But come to me once again in kindness,
heeding my prayers as you have done before;
O, come Divine One, descend once again from heaven's
Your chariot yoked to love's consecrated doves,
their multitudinous pinions aflutter,
you once came gliding from the utmost heights, to
this dark earth.
Swiftly they came and vanished, leaving you,
O my Goddess, smiling, your face eternally beautiful,
asking me what unfathomable longing compelled me
to cry out.
Asking me what I sought in my hopeless, bewildered desire.
Asking, "Who has harmed you, why are you so alarmed,
my poor Sappho? Whom should Persuasion
"Though today she flees love, soon she will pursue you;
spurning love's gifts, she soon shall return them;
tomorrow she will woo you,
Come to me now, most Holy Aphrodite!
Release me from my heavy heartache and anguish;
grant me all I request, be once again
my ally and protector!
"Hymn to Aphrodite" is the only poem by Sappho of ****** to survive in its entirety. The poem survived intact because it was quoted in full by Dionysus, a Roman orator, in his "On Literary Composition," published around 30 B.C. A number of Sappho's poems mention or are addressed to Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love. It is believed that Sappho may have belonged to a cult that worshiped Aphrodite with songs and poetry. If so, "Hymn to Aphrodite" may have been composed for performance within the cult. We do know that Sappho was held in very high regard. For instance, when Sappho visited Syracuse the residents were so honored they erected a statue to commemorate the occasion! During Sappho's lifetime, coins of ****** were minted with her image. Furthermore, Sappho was called "the Tenth Muse" and the other nine were goddesses. Keywords/Tags: Sapphic, Sappho, ******, translation, ancient Greek, hymn, Aphrodite, Zeus, daughter, immortal, goddess, holy, lady, heaven, enchantress, enchantment, love potion, charm, spell, persuasion, beguiler, beguilement, mistress, discipline, *******, prayer, prayers, chariot, heaven, descent, ally, protector, lust, desire, passion, longing, ***, crush, girlfriend, women, grief