Fragment 4 (Sappho)

Ἄστερες μὲν ἀμφὶ κάλαν σελάνναν
ἂψ ἀπυκρύπτοισι φάεννον εἶδος,
ὄπποτα πλήθοισα μάλιστα λάμπῃ
  γᾶν ἐπὶ παῖσαν
… ἀργυρία … 5

Sapphic stanza: ¯ ˘ ¯ x ¯ ˘ ˘ ¯ ˘ ¯ ¯ (3x)
         ¯ ˘ ˘ ¯ ¯

1   κάλαν ‘beautiful, lovely’; Aeolic for καλήν—σελάνναν ‘moon’; Aeolic for σελήνην

2   ἄψ (adverb) ‘back’—ἀπυκρύπτοισι (ἀπο-κρύπτω 3pl present active indicative) ‘conceal, keep hidden, hold back’; Aeolic for ἀπο-κρύπτουσι; the Aeolic resolution of palatalized *-ntˢ- always results in loss of *n with compensation in a true diphthong whose offglide element is ι (cf. also l. 3 πλήθοισα < *-ontˢya and l. 4 παῖσαν < *-antˢyan)—φάεννον ‘radiant, shining’; Aeolic for φαεινός—εἶδος (neut. accusative singular) ‘form, appearance’

3   ὄπποτα ‘whenever’; Aeolic for ὅποτε—πλήθοισα (πλήθω present participle fem. nominative singular) ‘being full’ = ‘full’; Aeolic for πλήθουσα—μάλιστα (adverb) ‘the most’; take this with πλήθοισα—λάμπῃ (λάμπω 3sg present subjunctive) ‘give light, shine’; its subject is πλήθοισα [σελάννα]

4   γᾶν (γή accusative singular) ‘earth’; Aeolic for γῆν—παῖσαν (πᾶς fem. accusative singular) ‘all, entire’; Aeolic for πᾶσαν

5   ἀργυρία (fem. singular) ‘silvery’; cf. Ionic ἀργυρέη

The stars, around the lovely moon,
hold back their brilliant appearance
whenever she shines at her fullest
 upon all the earth
… silvery … 5

(Detail from Night Landscape by Natalia Basova)


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