Have you ever wondered about the origin of the word, ‘Lesbian’?
Where did this word come from? Who was the first documented lesbian of the history?
Now that even our government has legalized same-sex relationships, I was wondering what would things have been like in ancient times. And what I found was really exciting and fascinating.
Sappho- The Poetess
Sappho was an archaic Greek poet from the ‘Island of Lesbos.’ Yeah, don’t smirk just yet. The whole island wasn’t full of ‘Lesbians’, it’s just that the name of the island was ‘Lesbos’. She was actually a bad-ass poetess who used to write some of the most extraordinary poetry when it comes to love. (you know which one to be specific)
But beyond her poetry, she was well known as a symbol of love and desire between women. Oh yeah, she did have a thing for women. She was from the city of Mytilene, which was located on the famous island of Lesbos. She was born around 630 BC and began writing at a comparatively young age.
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What did she write about?
Sappho probably wrote around 10,000 lines of poetry but today, only 650 lines survive. A poem, known as, ‘Ode to Aphrodite’ is her best-known work. (you would know why) Apparently, this poem is all about Sappho asking assistance from the ‘Goddess of love-Aphrodite’ in pursuit of a beloved girl.
Oh yeah, a GIRL!
The poem mentions all about the intricate details with which Sappho asks the goddess to ease the pains of her unrequited love for this girl. This invokes the goddess and Aphrodite appears to Sappho, telling her that the girl who has rejected her love will in time pursue her in turn.
The poem ends with another call for the goddess to assist the speaker in all her love struggles. With its reference to a female beloved, the “Ode to Aphrodite” is one of the few surviving works of Sappho that provides textual evidence that she loved other women. (I told you, you would know why this is her best work!)
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Yeah, you guessed it right. Today, we all commonly know females who love other females as ‘Lesbians’. And she is the reason behind it.
The common term lesbian is an allusion to Sappho. And yeah, it originates from the name of the ‘island of Lesbos’, where she was born.
Even the written records of Suda (10th-century Byzantine encyclopedia) mention that Sappho was accused of having sexual relationships with her female disciples. But many scholars just dismiss the fact. They believe that there was nothing of this sort and that it was a baseless rumor that she is a lesbian.
Anyway, who knows what the truth was? Moreover, it is believed that the church was against her morals and ethics when it came to her sexuality, which is why most of her work was destroyed. And the remaining ones, that did survive, gives a clear picture of her sexual behaviors, don’t they?