Towards the Banks of Acheron. An Interpretation of Sappho 95V


  • Jelena Pilipović University of Belgrade, Serbia


The paper deals with one of the shortest, but most sophisticated among Sappho’s preserved poems. In aneffort to express love despair, the poetic voice describes a part of the underworld as a desirable and enchanting landscape – by such a description, seemingly simple, but actually paradoxical, the poetess invites her reader to plunge into a complex stream of early Greek eschatological conceptions. Omnipresent erotic topics melt with elaborate imaginary topology: with the idealised, i.e. proto-idyllic nature and with visionary afterlife surroundings. In an attempt to position Sappho’s imaginary topology in its poetic and eschatological context, this paper offers a comparative reading of the Homeric epics and the orphic funerary texts as well as of the orphic rhapsodies’ fragments. Hopefully, the semantic richness of Sappho 95V is unveiled, at least partially, as well as the complexity and the ambiguity of the love phenomenon in early Greek poetry.