This Classic Toast post originally ran on April 16, 2015.
So maybe my favorite part about all of Greek history is that Sappho was just such a BIG GAY BUMMER that it pretty much killed her. (This may or may not be true. 100% of what we know about Sappho is “this may or may not be true,” except for the rumor that she threw herself off of a cliff for the love of some male boatman, which is a vile calumny invented by, I don’t know, Athenians probably, who were terrified of women’s sexuality in general.)
(Follow-up parenthetical: we are NOT going to have an argument about Sappho’s historic gayness. If I hear the words “finishing school,” “Phaon,” “it’s impossible to know her sexuality because…” or anything about Erinna being a male poet using a pseudonym, I will shut down this entire website and send all of you packing.)
Anyhow, here are a bunch of paintings of Sappho in order of how super bummed-out she looked. (She was bummed out all the time because of ladies.)
this is garbage trash
Sappho is practically SMILING and I can see the bloom of health in her cheeks? Why don’t you just draw a picture of Heathcliff and Cathy as the “Love is…” dolls holding hands in a Precious Moments background?? Sappho INVENTED the gay goth look and this is NOT IT.
SLIGHTLY better. She’s holding a piece of paper with her own name on it just in case anyone forgets, which is pretty metal, and she’s turning away from a bunch of dudes to protect her sweet lyre. Plus it looks like there’s a babe she’s staring longingly at who is talking to said dudes, so there’s that.
YES. This is some GOOD SAPPHO. She is so languid and anguished and languishing she doesn’t even care that she’s got her tits out. WHATEVER, MAN. She’s got her lyre and that’s all she needs. Just art, man. She doesn’t need that girl, whatever her name was. Uuuugh, she’s too sad to even LIFT UP HER HEAD. Why should she bother lifting it anyways, if she knows she’s never going to see anyone worth looking at again.
Even better. She’s added a sweet black cloak, which is righteous, and she’s cuddling her lyre on the edge of a cliff, because her lyre is the only thing that understands her.
JUST STRAIGHT UP STANDING ON THE EDGE OF A CLIFF YELLING AT THE NIGHT
She is (as best as I can tell) lying dead on the ground while a bird tries to peck away her jewels? YES.
Oh my GOD, look at how sad and gross she is, trying to sullenly make out with a girl who can’t even make eye contact with her? WELCOME TO MY ELEVENTH GRADE YEAR, SAPPHO.
I have no idea what she’s running away from, but IT’S PROBABLY HER FEELINGS.
YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. THIS IS HOT TOPIC’S EMILY THE STRANGE BY WAY OF ANCIENT GREECE. NO SHIRT, BLACK CLOAK, BLACK SCARF, DEAD EYES, THAT’S THE LONG-DEAD MEGA-GAY BUMMER WE KNOW AND LOVE. SAPPHO NEVER SMILED EVEN ONCE, OR SHE SMILED ONCE AND IT HURT SO BAD SHE DIED, GOD BLESS
Mallory is an Editor of The Toast.