I'm back with another question like this one, to which I leave the background part. So among the sources I found while researching Sappho back in the days is The Complete Poems of Sappho, which I am currently comparing with my other sources. I just scrolled to the end and found this curious mishmash of stuff:

Αεριων επεων αρχομαι αλλ’ονατων [ε] γω το καλλος επιτ[μεζον]…
οφθαλμοις δε μελαις
νυκτος αωρος και ποθηω και μαομαι ουκ οιδ
οττι θεω διχα μοι τα νοηματα κατ’ εμον σταλαχμον
ου τι μοι υμμες ας θελετε υμμες [ο] ττινας
γαρ ευ θεω κηνοι με μαλιστα παντων σινοντα[ι]
εγω δ’εμ’[αυται τουτο συ]νοιδα
μη κινη χεραδος ου γαρ θεμις εν μοισοπολων οικιαι
θρηνων εμμεν
ου κ’αμμι ταδε πρεποι

Ignoring the semi-random line breaking, this is what I see in this mess:

  1. Sappho Edmonds 1a, which I think is actually part of the preface to an edition of Sappho where the edition is made to speak, and reads Ἀερίων ἐπέων ἄρχομαι ἀλλ' ὀνάτων, or in Edmonds' translation "The words I begin are words of air, but, for all that, good to hear".
  2. The object of the question.
  3. Sappho Edmonds 141A, which Edmonds adds a χύτο into to get ὀφθάλμοις δὲ μέλαις χύτο νύκτος ἄωρος.
  4. Sappho Edmonds 23, καὶ ποθήω καὶ μάομαι.
  5. Sappho Edmonds 52, Οὐκ οἶδ' ὄττι θέω· δύο μοι τὰ νοήματα, or with δίχα instead of δύο as is found here and in Lobel-Page.
  6. Sappho Edmonds 17, κὰτ' ἔμον στάλαγμον (or στέλεγμον as in Edmonds, and I think στάλαχμον is also seen somewhere else than here, hopefully not just in that horrid Spanish edition of the linked post).
  7. Sappho Edmonds 59, οὔ τί μοι ὔμμες (Edmonds elides μοι).
  8. Sappho Edmonds 50, ἆς θέλετ' ὔμμες.
  9. Sappho Edmonds 13, ὄττινας γὰρ εὖ θέω, κῆνοί με μάλιστα σίνονται (Edmonds σίννονται).
  10. Sappho Edmonds 15, ἔγω δ' ἔμ' αὔτᾳ τοῦτο σύνοιδα (Edmonds takes it from P.Oxy. and adds ]λαν· at the start).
  11. Sappho Edmonds 78, μὴ κίνη χέραδος (Edmonds χέραδας).
  12. Sappho Edmonds 108, Οὐ γὰρ θέμις ἐν μοισοπόλων οἰκίᾳ θρῆνον ἔμμεν οὔ κ' ἄμμι τάδε πρέποι, where the mishmash has something closer to the manuscript version than Edmonds' emendation.

But what in the world is number 2? This time, having learnt the lesson from the previous question, I googled it, and this mishmash is all that came up. I found this, which suggests those are the lyrics of the group Avaton's rendition of "one of Sappho's poetic fragments", and gives the following translation to the mishmash, only vaguely matching it:

I start my song with ethereal soft words. In my life I served beauty.
Along the night, when dark sleep captures my eyes and desire burns me and excites my body,
I know not what to do: my mind is divided drop after drop the pain within me…
No, it’s not you who for me, as much you want it,
For they whom I benefit injure me most...
Yes, I have placed this deep in my mind and I know it.
Leave the pebbles and don’t mix them up. Lamentations are not be heard into poets’ homes.
Such things are not appropriate for us.

By the way, the line breaking in this thing's "lyrics" is different from the above mishmash. Then you listen to the video, and it doesn't correspond at all! Of all the mess up there, all you can hear in the video is Ἀερίων ἐπέων ἄρχομαι, and then there are a couple more Sappho fragments to be identified, none of which are in the above mishmash!

With all that, does any of you guys recognize this corrupted fragment, which seems to read as follows?

[ἔ]γω τὸ κάλλος ἐπιτ[μέζον]

Or can you even just recognize what the last word(s) may be, with ἐπιτ[μέζον] apparently supposed to translate to "served in my life" or a subset thereof?


Here's what I actually hear in the lyrics:

Ζαελεξάμαν ὄναρ Κυπρογένηα (twice, Edmonds 123)
ἄγι χέλυ δῖα φωνάεσσα (twice, part of Edmonds 80)
Ζαελεξάμαν ὄναρ Κυπρογένηα (twice, Edmonds 123)
ἄγι χέλυ δῖα φωνάεσσα (twice, part of Edmonds 80)
α! [some scat singing]
Ἀερίων ἐπέων ἄρχομαι (number 1 above, twice)
ἄγι χέλυ δῖα φωνάεσσα ἄγι χέλυ δῖα (twice, part of Edmonds 80 with a repetition)
[some scat singing]
[more scat singing]
α! [second scat singing bit]
[scat singing again]
[Perhaps ναί (modern Greek for "yes") over and over?]
[More scat]
[Still more scat]
[Guess what? Scat]
[Um, guess]
[And more!]

Yeah, three unrelated fragments, mishmashed together randomly with one being randomly cut, a lot of scat and a lot of instrumental parts. Nothing to write home about, au contraire.


The Complete Poems of Sappho gives this as Wharton 12 and Cox 12. Wharton 12 is actually just Edmonds 13 (ὄττινας γὰρ) without the πάντων δηὖτε from the mistaken integration of that quotation into P.Oxy. 1231 fr. 16, which TCPOS reports right after the mishmash with that integration. I don't have Cox so I cannot verify if Cox 12 has anything to do with the mishmash. UPDATE Assuming this is Cox digitized, Cox 12 would be the same as Wharton 12, found in this weird pseudoromanization:

... O?'ttinas ga`r eu?^ ðe'w kh^noi' me ma'lista ci'nnontai ...

  • Can't help you. Not in my sources. Commented Aug 27, 2018 at 22:00
  • @NickNicholas That source gives it as Wharton 12 and Cox 12. I verified Wharton 12 is just Edmonds 9. Do you by chance have Cox to debunk the other number?
    – MickG
    Commented Aug 28, 2018 at 0:37
  • And of course we all remember what I wrote about Edmonds (or rather my quote from Campbell about Edmonds). latin.stackexchange.com/a/4820/39
    – Alex B.
    Commented Aug 28, 2018 at 2:16
  • Ditto Cox: sacred-texts.com/cla/sappho/sappho0.htm. Cox only cites under 12: Ὄττινας γὰρ εὖ θέω, κῆνοί με μάλιστα σίννονται. The mishmash in "The Complete Poems" is in curly brackets, which means it's someone's guesswork; but it's not Cox's. Commented Aug 28, 2018 at 2:19
  • Damn, I really want to know where the mishmash came from now. The TLG, where I used to work, did not digitise the really tiny fragments of Sappho; I'd be scouring Lobel & Page for "καλλος". Commented Aug 28, 2018 at 2:46

3 Answers 3


What happened to your copy of Voigt? Why not use Campbell as well?

enter image description here

and Campbell again:

enter image description here

  • @NickNicholas There you go!
    – Alex B.
    Commented Aug 28, 2018 at 3:56
  • Thank you! Now to work out why that didn't show up elsewhere in searches... Commented Aug 28, 2018 at 3:57
  • High res…
    – Alex B.
    Commented Aug 28, 2018 at 3:59
  • @NickNicholas I don't really know. It literally took me seconds loebclassics.com
    – Alex B.
    Commented Aug 28, 2018 at 4:02
  • Well, the completion as ἑπέτμεζον is the word I was looking for, and that completion isn't there. The fragment does not seem to be in Lobel–Page, which is my go-to. There's more to be said about this... Commented Aug 28, 2018 at 4:04

Campbell has been given, let me give Lobel-Page now.

enter image description here

Counting from the coronis in col. iii, the fragment is lurking at ll. 6-7. Apparatus Criticus:

enter image description here

Now let me just point out how nonsens the numbering of the fragments is. From this page, we fully expect an image of this to contain two papyrus fragments, which we are not too sure how to assign the numbers 1(a) and 1(b). Image coming:

enter image description here

We are actually talking about the two fragments on the far left, which apparently are both 1(a) and must be joined with the one below being on the top-right of the other one, and the biggest of the other fragments, which is 1(b) and joins with the bottom left of the top one a few lines below the bottom one. WTH is up with that numbering?!


This came back to my mind recently, and I did some more research. First of all, the "in my life" may come from completing l. 1 as ἐπὶ τ[ὸν βίον μου, though getting "served" from μέζον seems difficult.

As for the provenance of the mishmash, I googled the [ε] γω το καλλος επιτ[μεζον] part, and wherever that came up, it was either:

  1. Palmer's site or one of its numerous embedded-pdf-like renditions around the web;
  2. This blog, where the mishmash is alleged to be the lyrics of the song αερίων επέων άρχομαι by the modern Greek group Avaton, whereas (as the video in the question shows) that is completely wrong, and that video is yet another mishmash of Sappho;
  3. This Greek forum, with the same allegation, which links to Palmer's site, meaning the poster may have pulled the mishmash off Palmer's, being fooled by the title of the song to think those were the actual lyrics;
  4. This site, which gives a Bad Gateway;
  5. A site that couldn't load that is now gone from the Google search results – it vanished in the course of about 16hrs;
  6. Or my blog, where the Comparative Numbering Table has the text of this put in there for completeness and marked as included in LP 90 and similar.

I commented on both 2 and 3 asking where the wrong lyrics came from, and am waiting for an answer. I guess that is all I can do for now.

Update 2

The curator of item 2 commented to this blog post of mine saying:

The lyrics and translation are from the group's own notes accompanying their work. I see your point that for a purist the mish-mash and translation may be anathema, however, given artistic licence I can see where Avaton has trie dto go with this. They have taken Sappho's intriguing fragments, trying to stutch them together to form something of a complete whole. There are multiple tracks on the CD, hence what is being sung may not be what I set down on the blog post. I was more interested in the "mood" created.

So we have a culprit: the group Avaton, who mishmashed fragments two different ways to produce the video's track and the mishmash at hand, and even provided a translation for the mishmash, whence the "In my life I served beauty" for the fragment the question focuses on.


On this Italian anthology, I found the idea that the fragment should mean "I never blamed beauty" or something like that, and I restored it (as here) as οὐ γὰρ] ἔγω τὸ κάλλος <x–> ἐπετ[ίμαν ποτα. Maybe "I served" is a stretch of the other sense of ἐπιτιμᾶν, "to show honor to". Since there is plenty of invention in that translation anyways, "in my life" could be part of it. Or really all of the translation that seems to match that part could be invented, outside "I" and "beauty". Avaton should answer about that, since it appears this mishmash comes straight from them.

The idea might have gotten into the anthology from Una Mitra per Cleis, aka Sappho's Gift: The Poet and Her Community, available on Academia.edu, where the same suggestion is found, with no supplements in the text, and no app. crit. to explain this translation. Here's a copypaste of his commentary on the fragment:

We do not know what occasion inspired this poem, commented upon by the anonymous scholar of our commentary. That the subject, as one scholar has suggested,25 is a propemptikon due to the reference to Zephyr and the winds more generally is anything but certain, considering how frequently the winds appear in Greek poetry to denote the instability of the human condition.
Certainly the poem, as the commentator explicitly states, was composed against Andromeda and the case of Gyrinno—the girl whom we met as “deli- cate Gyrinno” in F 82a in the context of a confrontation with Mnasidika and who was to be herself involved in a case of abandonment—provided the cue for an attack on arrogant and privileged26 women who had accused Sappho of devaluing physical beauty.
From the commentator’s paraphrase we can deduce that the poet must have replied to an accusation by maintaining that she did love beauty, and indeed she did not recognize any greater value provided that beauty included part of virtue (cf. line 19). What followed then was the wish of good for herself and ill for her rival: to me may Zephyr’s breath (the wind tied to spring and to the reopening of the seas to marine traffic) bring joy and serenity, to you waves (?) raised from stormy squalls bring turbulence and ruin!
That Atthis, so loved until puberty, is assigned an adjective that brands her as an evil sort of lady like Andromeda seems the sign, after the desertion, of a condemnation without appeal, a break that cannot be repaired.


The mishmash is a mishmash of Odysseas Elyti̱s mishmashes.

More specifically, in Elyti̱s's Sappho edition, we find three mishmashes of interest, numbers 1 2 and 4. Random parts of those were smashed together, with no attention to spacing (which sometimes show line ends) or those signs which say "fragment ends here", to form this thing.

It was Elyti̱s who came up with "served" (or rather, διακόνησα). The real Avaton lyrics are also part of Elyti̱s 2, plus the aeríōn part.


OK, I'm going to build on @alex-b's answer, having looked at Lobel-Page 90 and Campbell 90. Those more game than me can look at the original papyrus:

Sean Palmer of http://inamidst.com/stuff/sappho/ has done a great service in putting Sappho online, and something of a disservice in printing the line as he has.

Sean Palmer has reproduced what we are now calling "the mishmash" of Sappho quotes, at the start of his "Wharton 12 / Cox 12" fragment (which is Lobel-Page 26). The fragment MickG could not trace is [ε]γω το καλλος επιτ[μεζον]…

That's not what the fragment is.

The fragment comes from Lobel-Page 90. Lobel-Page 90 is a commentary on Sappho, and Lobel-Page were reluctant to put spaces into such a small fragment; that's why I couldn't find the words when searching. They supplied a guessed reading in their app crit. The passage in question is (col iii 18-19):



In their app crit, they suggest this might ("fort.") be read as ἔ]γω τὸ κάλλος ἐπειτ.[ |μέζον· τὶ γάρ ἠνεμ[

ἐπειτ.[ means the line breaks at [, and there's an unreadable letter before it. | means new line.

There is no word ἐπιτ[μέζον]: it's a dord. And wherever the mishmash has come from has completely misread the app crit. The passage is ἐπιτ- ... μέζον.

Campbell offers the translation "'I... beauty... greater'; for what was...". He also reads μέδον instead of μέζον, but he emends it to μέ<σ>δον, which is the same thing anyway.

Because there's a mention of "I", we assume this is a verse of Sappho, and not the commentator's text. (Campbell in his translation ascribes 'I... beauty... greater' to Sappho and "for what was" to the commentator.) We can't really guess what the verb starting with ἐπιτ- is. The mishmash translation as "In my life I served beauty" is... well, I don't know what it is based on. I also still don't know who to blame the mishmash on; it's not Lobel–Page, Campbell, or Cox, and I'd be astonished if any classicist would have the chutzpah to smash all those fragments together.

  • 1
    Maybe we should email Mr. Palmer to ask him where he found that mishmash (and perhaps also why he didn't include, among others, the Athenaeus quotation ἔγω δὲ phílēm' abrosýnan), and also that other mishmash I just saw in Bergk 15, consisting in three identifiable fragments smashed together as εγω δ’εμ’[αυται τουτο συ]νοιδα μη κινη χεραδος ου γαρ θεμις εν μοισοπολων. Then again, maybe it's just a weird cutout of our mishmash?
    – MickG
    Commented Aug 28, 2018 at 10:12
  • I will check Carson and Powell for the mishmash. He also mentions Barnstone, which I don't have.
    – MickG
    Commented Aug 28, 2018 at 10:13
  • 1
    Looking for "beauty" in Powell and Carson doesn't reveal the fragment at hand.
    – MickG
    Commented Aug 28, 2018 at 10:28
  • I tried googling mishmash 2 and one of the results is elwaseet-brokers.com/forums/showthread.php, which just won't open on my mobile. Can you open it?
    – MickG
    Commented Aug 28, 2018 at 11:11
  • 1
    It seems the group Avaton is responsible for both the video and the mishmash: cfr. my answer's "Update 2".
    – MickG
    Commented Oct 21, 2018 at 23:52

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