[[ This is a journal entry that I wrote back during out Zielinski reading. It’s about Sappho, the ancient Greek poet whose work I’m trying to memorize. You can read about my progress in this project at sapphonics.wordpress.com ]]


*These are logic symbols “/\” = “and”; “\/” = “or”

In other words, differences in languages or “lingual drift,” if you will, is a function of distance and time. The farther and further you get from the original language, the greater the difference will be in the resulting language.

There is no way to empirically predict how a language will change… so no logical formulae will fit precisely. But you can use distance and time as an indicator for how different an original language (mother tongue) is from languages derived from it (its daughters).

This applies to stories too. Stories move from one language to another when they are spoken. Therefore, they undergo similar changes. Greater distances or more time between the telling of an original story (as told by the mother) and the retelling of the stories (as repeated by the daughters) will result in more variations in the story itself.

First, the Brothers Grimm (Jacob und Wilhelm) noticed similarities in the stories they heard.
Then, they concluded that languages were connected and that time and distance affect the way that languages change.

Back to my story…

Willard Connely from 1925 called “Imprints of Sappho on Catullus” printed in The Classical Journal that says on page 408, “Let it be remembered that every line of Sappho was worth imitating.” I’m not saying that all Sappho scholars accuse Catullus of copying. However, the incessant comparison between the two poets creates the idea, at least for me, that Catullus and other men borrowed Sappho’s poem and took all the credit for it.

While I don’t think that is completely incorrect Michael responded with his predictable response:

“Everything is Repeated!”

“oh yea…”

So what makes us think Sappho was also an originator? Even Connely, mentioned above, notices that “the Song of Solomon echos both in Sappho and in Catullus” (page 409).

Here’s a link to Michael.

This post owes a debt of gratitude to Siegfried Zielinski and his book Deep Time of the Media: Toward an Archaeology of Hearing and Seeing by Technical Means (Cambridge, MIT Press, 2006). His ideas and words gave me a better language with which to explain the connection between Sappho, her transmissions, and their relation to modern media scholarship.