MISCELLANEA ∆ E ∆Υ KE MEN A Σ E Λ ANNA This note attempts to show that Sappho's short poem (fr. 168B Voigt) contains implicit astronomical information, which must have contributed to the poem's expressiveness to contemporary audiences. Reading this, reasonably, to mean that the moon had been visible before it had set before midnight, we obtain an astronomical datum, namely that the moon's age lies between two and six days, and that we may visualize it as a crescent over the westerly horizon in the evening.-A similar reading, when applied to the Pleiads, leads to one more simple astronomical deduction. For the Pleiads to have been visible after dark and to have set before midnight, the time of year is necessarily between mid-January and late March in the modern calendar. About mid-January the Pleiads set at midnight; about the end of March they become barely visible just after sunset before disappearing themselves.-In this deduc- tion, the latitude of Lesbos (39°.1 N) and the assumed time of origin of the poem (ca. 600 B.C.) have been taken into account. However, it is not critically dependent on the latter, the limits moving forward by about a day and a
Mnemosyne – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 1990
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