“He Is More Than A Hero” written by Sappho Essay
“He Is More Than A Hero” written by Sappho
“He is a god in my eyes- the man who is allowed to sit beside you”
“If I met you suddenly, I can’t speak- my tongue is broken”
The following lines were taken from a poem written by Sappho entitled “He Is More Than A Hero.” For those who are not familiar with Sappho, she was a resident of a city names Lesbos. She lived from 630 B.C. – 570 B.C. In the city of Lesbos, Sappho was a highly respected poet/teacher by many but mainly the females. It is said that she was constantly surrounded by a circle of women who studied poetry with her. I am using this background information and the quotation from one of her many poems “He Is More Than A Hero” to support my theory that Sappho was a homosexual. Though the evidence is merely circumstantial, I feel that it is enough to convince one that she is a homosexual.
The poem which I extracted my thesis statement is obviously being written to a woman, but it is cleverly masked by the title “He Is More Than A Hero” and a few other lines in the poem. In the beginning of the poem she is briefly describing someone’s male companion who is apparently a good lover possessing a few qualities that Sappho admires. “He who listens to the sweet murmur of your voice- the enticing laughter that makes my own heart beat fast.”
Though the first few lines serve as a clever disguise, a cultured reader notices that the poem suddenly changes subjects, moving from a description of this man who is a god in Sappho’s eyes to a declaration of love for the female companion of this man-god. The 3-4th lines address an unknown you who is apparently the companion of this striking male. The you is also addressed in line 9 . The rest of the poem following that is a love ballad to this you who was first identified as being the companion of the man god. If one is not a skilled reader he/she may have missed the transition of the poem from one person to another.
The first few lines serve as a disguise and a way for the author to express her jealousy of him being next to his female companion. She views him as being a god because him being in the object of Sappho’s affection makes him that. This is based on the thought that if someone possesses something that you do not then they have a higher position of power than you. This thought accounts for her viewing him as being a God.
There are also a few other pieces of evidence that suggest that the poet Sappho was a homosexual. She was a resident of an city known as “Lesbos”. The name of the city had a striking similarity to a word which is given to homosexual women of modern times “Lesbian”. It is also said that she was often surrounded by women who were her “students”. Though this evidence can be seen as being only circumstantial, I feel that the combination of her addressing a female in her poem “He Is More Than A Hero” as having certain homo-erotic effects on her such as making her feel as “a thin flame runs under my skin” and making her “drip with sweat” whenever she sees her is enough to label her as being the “Greatest Lesbian Poet of Rome”