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Sappho's Sparrows

Harold Zellner
The Classical World
Vol. 101, No. 4 (Summer, 2008), pp. 435-442
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25471966
Page Count: 8
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Sappho's Sparrows
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Abstract

In Sappho 1.10 Aphrodite's chariot is drawn by sparrows. Perhaps the best explanation of this choice of draft animal is Sappho's distinctive compositional style, which characteristically employs unexpected word play and conceptually odd combinations. Moreover, Sappho elsewhere uses humorous hyperbole concerning incongruous size. The sequence has the structure of a joke: two unremarkable items set up the hearer for a punch line. Thus there is evidence that the poem is lighthearted humor, whatever else it may be.

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