'Their songs delight the gods… and mortals too for all time'
Fragmented and forgotten, the women poets of ancient Greece and Rome have long been overlooked by translators and scholars. Yet to Antipater of Thessalonica, writing in the first century AD, these were the 'earthly Muses' whose poetic skills rivalled those of their heavenly namesakes.
Today only a fraction of their work survives - lyrical, witty, often innovative, and always moving - offering surprising insights into the closed world of women in antiquity, from childhood friendships through love affairs and marriage to motherhood and bereavement.
Josephine Balmer's translations breathe new life into long-lost works by over a dozen poets from early Greece to the late Roman empire, including Sappho, Corinna, Erinna and Sulpicia, as well as inscriptions, folk-songs and even graffiti. Each poet is introduced by a brief bibliographical note, and where necessary her poems are annotated to guide readers through unfamiliar mythological or historical references.
In an illuminating introduction, Josephine Balmer examines the nature of women's poetry in antiquity, as well as the problems (and pleasures) of translating such fragmentary works. Classical Women Poets is a complete collection for anyone interested in women's literature, the ancient world, and - above all - poetry. It is a companion volume to Josephine Balmer's edition Sappho: Poems and Fragments, also published by Bloodaxe.