The Other Sappho

Ellen Frye, Author Firebrand Books $8.95 (218p) ISBN 978-0-932379-68-9
Obscure Greek folklore inspires this novel about a young lesbian slave named Lykaina (``wolf-woman''). After her mistress instructs her to seek out the elegant Sappho and her famous school of poetry, Lykaina undertakes her own small odyssey from Sparta to the celebrated island of Lesbos. En route she meets Maia, a travel companion extraordinaire who initiates her into the worship of the Earth Mother. Once in Sappho's home, Lykaina thrives: ``This is a palace of love. . . . This is a land of poetry. Here I belong.'' Eventually, however, she leaves the court, offended by the other poets' disdain for the less privileged. Lykaina returns to Maia, who urges her to recite for the country people so close to her heart. With Maia's patronage, the ``other Sappho'' evolves her own school of poetry. From descriptions of markets and clothing to expositions of women's love affairs and the art of verse, Frye ( The Marble Threshing Floor: A Collection of Greek Folk Songs ) shores up her imaginings with persuasive research. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 10/01/1989
Release date: 10/01/1989
Hardcover - 218 pages - 978-0-932379-69-6
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