Wow! This week last week I have been asked to compare and contrast the work of two ancient female rhetoric's. I have pondered this question with much trepidation just because I feel like I don’t have enough information in regards to the life of Sappho – as much as we would like to understand what she was writing about and what type of women she was – I think the information we have is just so limited. I believe Sappho had unfortunately been an almost forgotten writer because of the unnecessary prejudices of being a female writer and because the subject matter of her poetry which often dealt with issues of love and possible female love subjects. The limited amount of Sappho’s work we actually do have to work with has struggled to not be completely destroyed over time. It is truly sad and disappointing to learn that only portions of her poems are available and much of her work is “restructured” – which involves the piecing together of her work through the interpretation and educated guesses of (mostly male) scholars. This is by no means a true representation of what could have been in Sappho’s heart as she was writing about love, life and longing for lost loves.
Even though I am sad with the limited availability of her work - I am thankful that we can look at and ponder the little information we have regarding her life and I find it inspiring that at least a women living under the right circumstances (wealth) would have had this opportunity that so many other women did not have. Imagine how wonderful it would be to have the opportunity to read what a woman in ancient times – someone without wealth or social status (a average women like me) would have had to say. I believe the connections felt through the writings from over time would have been amazing!
In comparison, another female rhetoric we explored is Aspasia – she was a woman that just happened to be in the right place at the right time with the right (male) connections. Because of these connections and because of her status among these male writers she was fortunate to not have her work almost completely decimated over time (opposite of what had almost happened to Sappho’s work). I believe since Aspasia was able to connect with the likes of Plato, Cicero, and Plutarch – she had the right males in her corner to help her succeed as a female rhetorician.
What a deep and complicated picture of these women and how their works have been saved or salvaged. I enjoy exploring these historically significant females and realize what an impact their writing has had on our lives.