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A Sister’s Plea

After Sappho, fragment 5, and fragment 15, and Ovid, Letters of the Heroines 15, lines 63-70 and 117-120

Nereids, you who bring the sailor safely home from sea,
and Cypris, my own patient goddess, hear a sister’s plea!
You’re angry with my brother, and your rage is justified.
I’ve begged him on my knees to mend his ways. How hard I’ve tried!
He doesn’t seem to care. He’s put his family to shame.
But please don’t punish him. I know the person who’s to blame:
he’s thrown his money at Doricha, that Egyptian whore.
He’s broke. He’s turned to piracy because he needs some more.
The fool! And yet I love him still. He’s not a wicked boy.
Please grant that soon, instead of heartache, he may bring us joy;
that friends he’s lost may speak his name with pride again one day;
but punish those (especially her) who’ve tempted him to stray.
Correct (but with a gentle hand!) the errings of his past
and set my dear Charaxus on a virtuous course at last.

I close with hope that, in your mercy, you will spare a thought
for Sappho, scanning the horizon, weeping at the port.

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Sappho, Fragment 5

Κύπρι καὶ] Νηρήιδες ἀβλάβη[ν μοι
τὸν κασί]γνητον δ[ό]τε τυίδ' ἴκεσθα [ι
κὤσσα οἰ θύμῳι κε θέλῃ γένεσθαι
πάντα τελέσθην,

ὄσσα δὲ πρ]όσθ' ἄμβροτε πάντα λῦσα[ι
καὶ φίλοισ]ι οἶσι χάραν γένεσθαι
κὠνίαν δ’ ἔ]χθροισι, γένοιτο δ’ ἄμμι
μηκ έτι μ]ηδ’ εἶς

τὰν κασιγνήταν δὲ θέλοι δὲ λύγραν
ἔμμορον] τίμας, [ὀν]ίαν δὲ λύγραν
                  ]ὄτοισι π[ά]ροιθ’ ἀχεύων
                       ] . να

                   ] . εἰσαΐω[ν] τό κἐνχρω
                   ]λ’ ἐπαγ[ορί]αι πολίταν
                   ]λλως […]νῆκε δ’ αὖτ’ οὐ
                    ]κρω[ ]

                    ]οναικ[ ]εο[ ] . ι
                    ] .. [ . ]ν σὺ [δ]έ Κύπ[ρ]ι, σ[έμ]να
                               ]θεμ[έν]α κάκαν [

Sappho, Fragment 15

                                             ]α μάκαι[ρα
                                             ]εὐπλο. · [
                                             ] . ατοσκα[

ὄσσα δὲ πρ]όσθ᾽[ ἄμ]βροτε κῆ[να λυσαι
                   ]αταις [ ]νεμ[
             σὺν] τύχαι λίμ[ ]ενος κλ[
] . [

Κύ]πρι, κα[ί σ]ε πι[κροτάτ]αν ἐπεύ[ροι,
μη]δὲ καυχάσ[α]ιτο τόδ᾽ ἐννέ[ποισα
Δ]ωρίχα, τὸ δεύ[τ]ερον ὠς πόθεννον
εἰς] ἔρον ἦλθε.

Ovid, Letters of the Heroines 15, lines 63-70 and 117-120

arsit inops frater meretricis captus amore 
   mixtaque cum turpi damna pudore tulit.

factus inops agili peragit freta caerula remo, 
   quasque male amisit, nunc male quaerit opes.

me quoque, quod monui bene multa fideliter, odit; 
   hoc mihi libertas, hoc pia lingua dedit. 

et tamquam desit, quae me sine fine fatiget, 
   accumulat curas filia parva meas…
gaudet et e nostro crescit maerore Charaxus 
   frater et ante oculos itque reditque meos.

utque pudenda mei videatur causa doloris, 
   ‘quid dolet haec? certe filia vivit!’ ait.