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Only approximately 650 lines of Sappho's poetry still survive, of which just one poem – the "Ode to Aphrodite" – is complete, and more than half of the original lines survive in around ten more fragments.
This description may have come from her own words, and it may be significant that this description does not conform to the archaic Greek ideal of female beauty.
This indication that Sappho was born into an aristocratic family is consistent with the sometimes rarefied environments that her verses record.
One ancient tradition tells of a relation between Charaxus and the Egyptian courtesan Rhodopis.
Fragment 132 describes Cleïs as "παῖς" (pais), which, as well as meaning "child", can also refer to the "youthful beloved in a male homosexual liaison".
However, the name appears to have been invented by a comic poet: the name "Kerkylas" comes from the word "κέρκος" (kerkos), a possible meaning of which is "penis", and is not otherwise attested as a name, A tradition going back at least to Menander (Fr.
Even after the publication of the standard Alexandrian edition, Sappho's poetry continued to circulate in other poetry collections.
For instance, the Cologne Papyrus on which the Tithonus poem is preserved was part of a Hellenistic anthology of poetry, which contained poetry arranged by theme, rather than by metre and incipit, as it was in the Alexandrian edition.
Herodotus, the oldest source of the story, reports that Charaxus ransomed Rhodopis for a large sum and that Sappho wrote a poem rebuking him for this.
Not all scholars accept that Cleïs was Sappho's daughter.
The Suda also attributes to Sappho epigrams, elegiacs, and iambics, but the only epigrams attributed to Sappho to survive are in fact later works, and the iambic and elegiac poems attributed to her in antiquity were probably also actually later imitations.
However, the papyrus tradition suggests that this may not have been the case: a series of papyri published in 2014 contains fragments of ten consecutive poems from Book I of the Alexandrian edition of Sappho, of which only two are certainly love poems, while at least three and possibly four are primarily concerned with family.
258 K) suggested that Sappho killed herself by jumping off the Leucadian cliffs for love of Phaon, a ferryman.