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Abstract: Lesbos Between Athens and Sparta

Archaic Greek poems referred to a specific historical context and to a specific audience. To understand the meaning of these poems, it is necessary to reconstruct their contexts. Because of the lack of evidence about archaic Greece, different societies have to be compared: in the case of Sappho and Alcaeus, parallels are made between Lesbos and Sparta or Athens. However, because Spartan and Athenian society were structurally different, it is absurd to compare – as usual – Sappho to Spartan female agele and Alcaeus to Athenian hetaireia. An analysis of Sappho’s and Alcaeus’ corpora shows that only Athens can be a parallel to Lesbos.

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