Published online by Cambridge University Press: 23 December 2013
Professor Gomme's approach to the study of Sappho and Alcaeus (JHS lvii (1957), 255 sqq.) is so different from mine that a detailed reply to his article would probably not be very profitable, except perhaps at one point which may be of some general interest. He seems to wonder why the lines were excluded from Poetarum Lesbiorum Fragmenta: these are lines which ‘can charm most men's ears’; but ‘Lobel and Page’, being insensitive to poetry, ‘have such a hate’ of it that ‘they have banished it not only from Sappho, but from Lesbian, and leave it lying about, not telling us what, if it is not Lesbian, it is’. Of course I reply for myself only, not for Mr. Lobel: and I say (i) that you ought not to speak of ‘banishing’ a poem from Sappho or from Lesbian if it was not assigned thereto by any ancient authority; (ii) that if I do not tell anybody ‘what, if it is not Lesbian, it is’, the reason is not perversity but ignorance: I do not know, nor does anybody else, who wrote these lines or when. They belong to a large category, the adespota, which we must ‘leave lying about’ simply because we do not know where to put them.
1 And I briefly comment on one other, his remarks on Sappho, fr. 1, where I cannot reconcile my views with his statement of them. Professor Gomme might have guessed that something was amiss in his understanding of what I wrote: for his counter-argument depends upon the remarkable (and explicit) assertion that in interpreting this poem I actually ‘forgot’ vv. 18–19, and then ‘forgot’ vv. 21–4. I hope I shall not be thought immodest if I venture to suggest that it was really very unlikely that I should ‘forget’ all these verses or my own interpretation of them; I have not even forgotten certain other interpretations of them, though I should be quite glad to do so. It is relevant to notice that stood (and with very few exceptions approved) my interpretation of this poem, founded as it is mainly on the account given of just these lines which I am now said to have forgotten.