About the lecture:

In this lecture, I will explore the process whereby Sappho of Lesbos (fl. 600 BCE), one of the preeminent lyric-erotic poets from the Archaic Greek period, became a textual figure, and more specifically, a figure in print. The Renaissance, we should recall, was also the age of the printing press. Here, I will discuss the single most important, and now almost entirely forgotten, early print edition of Sappho’s poetry: Fulvio Orsini’s Carmina Novem Illustrium Feminarum [“Verses of Nine Illustrious Women”], published in Antwerp in 1568. I will examine the relevant background material to the book’s creation first, focusing on two basic questions: who was Fulvio Orsini (1529-1600) in the context of Renaissance Rome; and who was Sappho understood to be in the Renaissance, prior to Orsini’s publication. This will set the stage for a closer look at Orsini’s remarkable, and remarkably modern, scholarly achievement. In conclusion, I will turn to the vexed question of what we may reasonably say about the “historical Sappho” today, and how Orsini’s extraordinary version of Sappho’s poetic fragments may help us to address that question. 

About the speaker:

Louis A. Ruprecht Jr. is the inaugural William M. Suttles Professor of Religous Studies in the Department of Anthropology at Georgia State University (Atlanta, GA), where he also serves as the Director of the Center for Hellenic Studies. His most recent books include Quatremère de Quincy’s Moral Considerations on the Place and Purpose of Works of Art, Translation with Commentary (Rowman and Littlefield, 2021), and Reach without Grasping: Anne Carson’s Classical Desires (Rowman and Littlefield, 2022). He is currently serving as one of two Elizabeth A. Whitehead Distinguished Professors at the American School of Classical Studies in Athens.