Peter Green writes:
For various reasons, many of them neither literary nor trustworthy, Sappho has always exerted a magnetic yet frustrating attraction on later generations. The frustration is due in part to the fact that her poetry is predominantly private, only a small amount of it has survived, and very little has ever been known about her. But it’s also safe to say we’re frustrated because a major feature of our limited knowledge has been, right from the start, the undeniable presence in her work of a clear erotic attachment (in whatever sense) to other women. Since the constant unstated – and, I suspect, often unconscious – determination has been to view her through the powerful but astigmatic lens of romantic idealism, this factor has always caused some embarrassment, not always acknowledged as such.