Origins of a word

Posted in things that make you go hmmmm by beebe4 on September 1, 2005

So I just learned what the root of Lesbian is Lesbos (incorrectly I might add, as the people of Lesbos are called Lesbosians and not Lesbians). But the term comes from the writing of the ancient “muse” Sappho, of whom I had never heard. From the link below is the following paragraph:

Her style was sensual and melodic; primarily songs of love, yearning, and reflection. Most commonly the target of her affections was female, often one of the many women sent to her for education in the arts. She nurtured these women, wrote poems of love and adoration to them, and when they eventually left the island to be married, she composed their wedding songs. That Sappho’s poetry was not condemned in her time for its homoerotic content (though it was disparaged by scholars in later centuries) suggests that perhaps love between women was not persecuted then as it has been in more recent times. Especially in the last century, Sappho has become so synonymous with woman-love that two of the most popular words to describe female homosexuality–lesbian and sapphic have derived from her.

I guess these are some of the interesting facts that my non-Liberal Arts education neglected me of.

More on Sappho here


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