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Sappho

Episode 2 of 9

The Greek poet Sappho has been described as everything from a great intellectual to little more than a vamp. Bettany Hughes discusses the life of an enigmatic character. From 2010.

The Greek poet Sappho has been described as everything from a great intellectual to little more than a vamp. Hard facts about her life are in short supply - we know that she lived on the island of Lesbos over two and half thousand years ago, and fragments of her poetry still survive. The best examples deal with the language of desire, but whether she really was a lesbian (with a small l) is less clear. Historian Bettany Hughes is as obsessed with who Sappho might be, as with whom the fragmentary evidence suggest she was. "This lack of facts has not stopped people making up stories about her," writes expert Peggy Reynolds. "Sappho is not a name, much less a person. It is, rather, a space." An enigmatic choice for presenter Matthew Parris to decipher. The producer is Miles Warde.

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30 minutes

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