Yeah, yeah, 12 whole lines of the ancient Greek chickie Sappho's poetry have been re-discovered.
Twelve! Be still my heart.
"[Blank] the fragrant-blossomed Muses' lovely gifts
[blank] girls, [blank] clear melodious lyre:
[blank] body old age now
[blank] my hair's turned [blank] instead of dark;
my heart's grown heavy, my knees will not support me,
that once on a time were fleet for the dance as fawns.
This state I oft bemoan; but what's to do?
Not to grow old, being human, there's no way.
once, the tale was, rose-armed Dawn,
love-smitten, carried off to the world's end,
handsome and young then, yet in time grey age
o’ertook him, husband of immortal wife."
About Sappho: "As a woman, Sappho had the good fortune to be born into a society which allowed her talent scope to develop, a culture which was, to judge by the evidence of her poems, markedly less misogynous and gynophobic than that of many Greek cities," according to Jim Powell in his 1993 book "Sappho: A Garland, The Poems & Fragments of Sappho Translated." Women weren't allowed to vote in Athens, as I recall. Oh, and slavery and all. In any case, she was famous in her time, though very little of the work survives. Her rep is really based on 2,600-year-old gossip extolling her talent (thank gawd for celebrity culture).
As for looks, "She is reputed to have been short, dark and ugly."
Sappho's best-known poem's here;
here's my fave:
hope of love [blank]
[blank] for when I look at you face to face [blank]
then it seems to me that not even Hermione
matched you, and comparing you with blonde Helen's
if that is permitted to mortal women.
Know this in your heart [blank]
would free me from all my worries
[blank] dewy banks [blank]
[blank] all night long [blank]
Inspiring, isn't it?
ADDENDUM: In the second edition of her 1912 book, "Sappho and the Island of Lesbos," professor Mary Mills Patrick
noted, "The Lesbian women mixed freely with male society. They were free, according to the custom of their age, to frequent all parts of the island, and to pursue whatever interests they chose. Slavery existed to a certain degree, although not quite in the form of the later Athenian custom. Slaves were gained though conquest in war from the earliest times.... [though some Greeks purchased barbarians as slaves]. It was customary in ancient society for slaves to perform all menial work, and Lesbos was doubtless no exception in this respect. It is certain that women of position in the Greek islands were relieved from much of the harder work of household management, and could give their time to music and poetry, and to long strolls through the beautiful country surrounding their primitive homes. They were as well educated as the men, and were accustomed to express their sentiments to an extent almost unknown elsewhere in the history of the Greeks."
Breakfast was crusts of bread soaked in wine; it was illegal for criminals to educate their children with the offspring of good citizens, and those who committed a crime while drunk received twice the sentence given the sober scofflaw.
Sappho had one daughter, and it's suggested that her husband died soon after the wedding. She was crabby with a brother, who briefly took up with a stunning slave freed for her beauty. "One legend which has long been believed about her is that she threw herself [into the sea] because of unrequited love for a young man called Phaon." Patrick simply wrote: "It is hardly necessary to say that as an historical fact the story was from the beginning without foundation, and does not accord with the events of her life." Phaon was likely a mythological character, and Patrick -- a missionary -- implied that Sappho chose chastity. Later in the book, that yucky lesbian stuff was firmly refuted.
More from Patrick: "It is an easy matter to visit Lesbos [known as Mitylene] today, and to behold the scenes which surrounded Sappho.... She is seldom spoken of by ancient writers without the adjectives beautiful or fair, yet we cannot be sure whether it was her personal appearance which gave rise to this description, or the character of her verses. She was probably beautiful, for Lesbos was the land of fair women.... The beauty of the women of Lesbos is often referred to in early times [the island hosted famous beauty contests], but strange to say today the island is noted for the beauty of its men and the ugliness of its women."