Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Document Type



Arts and Sciences


Classical Languages and Literature

First Advisor

Dr. Robert Rabel


This thesis contends that Sappho's Fr. 16 is intended to oppose the definition of the term Καλόѵ in Tyrtaeus' elegies 10 and 12. An analysis of Tyrtaeus 10 reveals the poet's attempt to institute a new civic courage in Sparta, one shaped by an understanding of honor and shame centered around the young man's willingness to fight and, if necessary, die in battle. Remarkably, the successful practitioner of this courage will literally come to sight differently in the eyes of his fellow citizens. In Tyrtaeus 12, this courage is more clearly defined as τò Καλλɪσɪoѵ, the focus of a new system of virtue that ranks the good of the common above all else, but that provides as much recompense for the warrior and his family as advantage for the city. Sappho's response in her Fr. 16 is to reject any understanding of the Καλόѵ that relies on convention, replacing it with the personal predilections of each individual. As she demonstrates, however, this view contains severe limitations and is inherently destructive of the city. The “debate,” conducted by both poets partly through Homeric allusions, continues the opposition between public and private begun in Homer.

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