The Age of Tyrants: Sappho via Gounod's Opera
- Extra Reading
The heroine of Charles Gounod’s French opera Sapho (1851) sings her last aria O My Immortal Lyre on a Greek cliff before plunging to her death. Sappho, the most famous poet of the ‘Lyric Age’ of Greece, in the 7th to 6th centuries BC, addressed passionate love poems to women.
This lecture uncovers what we know about the ‘real Sappho’, an aristocrat who lived between 630 and 570 BCE on the island of Lesbos and socialised in the lavish courts of upstart tyrants. This historical context in no way diminishes her songs’ astonishing immediacy and erotic power.
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