Hymn to Aphrodite | Study Guide

Sappho

Download a PDF to print or study offline.

Study Guide
Cite This Study Guide

How to Cite This Study Guide

quotation mark graphic
MLA

Bibliography

Course Hero. "Hymn to Aphrodite Study Guide." Course Hero. 8 Sep. 2020. Web. 25 Sep. 2021. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Hymn-to-Aphrodite/>.

In text

(Course Hero)

APA

Bibliography

Course Hero. (2020, September 8). Hymn to Aphrodite Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved September 25, 2021, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Hymn-to-Aphrodite/

In text

(Course Hero, 2020)

Chicago

Bibliography

Course Hero. "Hymn to Aphrodite Study Guide." September 8, 2020. Accessed September 25, 2021. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Hymn-to-Aphrodite/.

Footnote

Course Hero, "Hymn to Aphrodite Study Guide," September 8, 2020, accessed September 25, 2021, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Hymn-to-Aphrodite/.

Hymn to Aphrodite | Themes

Share
Share

A key characteristic of Sappho's poetry is that it challenged the preconceived Grecian notions about women and the female role in society. She often utilized familiar works and bent them or created suggestions that confronted those roles. In "Hymn to Aphrodite" Sappho utilizes the Iliad by Homer and changes the image of Aphrodite.

Relationships with Greek Gods and Goddesses

It was common in ancient Greece to worship gods or goddesses. "Hymn to Aphrodite" indicates she is a follower of Aphrodite's and that the goddess has "hearkened to me— / To my voice calling to thee in the distance / And heeding, thou hast come." It is notable that Aphrodite as the goddess of love was also known for her loose morals and passion. Aphrodite stood for love as well as lust and did not distinguish between male or female. Certain translations of Sappho's "Hymn to Aphrodite" utilize the pronoun "she" instead of "he" which suggests loving someone of the same sex. In "Hymn to Aphrodite" Aphrodite seems almost exasperated with Sappho as she offers a smile and says indulgently that soon the unnamed lover will " ... love thee / Even though thou wouldst not." This discussion between Sappho and Aphrodite indicates a closeness and intimacy with the goddess. It suggests that Sappho has called upon Aphrodite for a similar situation in the past.

Faith

It is clear that Sappho has faith in Aphrodite's ability to assist her when in stanza 7 she says "grant me surcease from sorrow / Drive away care, I beseech thee, O goddess / Fulfil for me what I yearn to accomplish." This belief is set as early as stanza 2 in which Sappho reminds Aphrodite of her assistance "ever in the past." The goddess has helped her before, and Sappho hopes that she will again. It is inferred that Sappho has met with success with Aphrodite's intervention and seeks this type of help again. While the tone of the poem is desperate and frantic, by the conclusion of the poem it has turned toward hope. She has faith that if she can persuade Aphrodite to "be though my ally," the unnamed lover will turn again to her.

Heartbreak

Sappho has purposely chosen to use words that depict a passionate desire for someone and heartbreak as a result of rejection. Words such as "Spare me, O queen, this agony and anguish" are indicative of the mindset of Sappho. Other words that occur later in the poem include "grief" and "demented heart" which indicate the desire Sappho feels for the unnamed lover. She reminds the goddess of the times when she has been aided for similar reasons. Since Sappho makes mention of past times of intervention by Aphrodite, it indicates that Sappho has been in a similar situation before. Many of Sappho's poems that have survived the ravages of time revolve around the pain of lost love or rejection by someone with whom she is in love.

Questions for Themes

View all
Can you please revise this for me. Please attach a 250-500 word essay on a critical policy, economic or social issue of your choice that is relevant to the institute to which you are applying ( I appl
Hello, Please see my attachment of second reflection paper. Try to pick one event from “The One List”.
500 word essay's 1. Compare Islam and Christianity. How did the two arise? How are the faiths alike, and how are they different? How were Christian and Muslim states governed in the early Middle Ages?
Review the 'Sun Spots' case on pages 254 in the textbook (Below also). Answer the questions at the end of the case in a post to the forum no later than midweek. In your posts, re-type each question an
Cite This Study Guide

information icon Have study documents to share about Hymn to Aphrodite? Upload them to earn free Course Hero access!