By analyzing the parallels between Sappho's Brothers Song and archaic Greek songs of welcome, especially Archilochus fr. 24 West, this essay offers a new interpretation of the Brothers Song. It clarifies that ἔλθην in the first preserved stanza represents an original aorist indicative. The chatterer repeats over and over a welcome song that begins, “Charaxus arrived with a full ship.” The rest of the song continues to engage with the welcome song tradition, anticipating the welcome song that will celebrate Charaxus' return to Mytilene, when and if that occurs. By pointing beyond itself to other, real or notional, songs about Charaxus, the Brothers Song also demonstrates Sappho's nonlinear method of storytelling that relies on her audiences' imaginations.
“Charaxus Arrived with a Full Ship!” The Poetics of Welcome in Sappho's Brothers Song and the Charaxus Song Cycle
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Peter A. O'Connell; “Charaxus Arrived with a Full Ship!” The Poetics of Welcome in Sappho's Brothers Song and the Charaxus Song Cycle. Classical Antiquity 1 October 2018; 37 (2): 236–266. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/ca.2018.37.2.236
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