1 November 2018 - SAPPHO - THE GREEK POET


G'day folks,

Welcome to some background notes on a famous Greek poet. 

Sappho was an archaic Greek poet from the island of Lesbos. Sappho is known for her lyric poetry, written to be sung and accompanied by a lyre. Most of Sappho's poetry is now lost, and what is extant has survived only in fragmentary form, except for one complete poem – the "Ode to Aphrodite".

Sappho was an ancient Greek female poet who wrote lyrical poetry famous for its intense passion and description of love. Being born on the Isle of Lesbos she is also referred to as the first Lesbian poet.

Little is known of her actual life, though she was born around 620BC, and died approximately 50 years later.

Unfortunately, much of her poetry has been lost, although some poems have been painstakingly pieced together through surviving fragments.

Details of her life are hard to piece together as there are few reliable sources. For example, historians are unsure about whether to take her poetry as reliable autobiographical evidence.

However, evidence from the period suggests she was temporarily exiled to Sicily because of political troubles on the island of Lesbos.

Sapphos is sometimes referred to as a lesbian. The word lesbian is actually derived from her place of birth – lesbos. However, there is no hard evidence about her sexuality. Her poems express great passion for a variety of people – both men and women; they may have been autobiographical or not.

A philosopher Maximus of Tyre wrote that the friendships of Sappho were similar to those of Socrates – suggesting Sappho had a circle of like-minded friends brought together by a love of art, poetry and culture. It has been suggested, with little authority, that Sappho may have been the head of some formal academy like a school. However, it is more likely to be a less formal circle of friends.

 Poetry of Sappho


The poetry of Sappho often revolves around themes of love and passion, and has a clarity and simplicity of language; within her poems, there is great vividness and directness. The style is often conversational – giving an impression of immediacy and action. The poems were also sung to music, meaning they needed to be lyrical in form.

Clancy's comment: She was born a hell of a long time ago, and here she is on my blog. Wonders never cease, eh?

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31 October 2018 - THE AWESOME MEERCAT


G'day folks,

I've probably featured these critters before, but I love ' em. The meerkat or suricate is a small carnivoran belonging to the mongoose family. Meerkats are tremendous diggers and can dig up their own body weight in earth in only a couple of seconds

Quick Facts
  • Type: Mammal
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Lifespan: 12-14 years
  • Size: 25-30 cm long excluding tail
  • Weight: Under 1 kg
  • Habitat: Arid plains and deserts
  • Range: Southern Africa
  • Scientific name: Suricata suricatta

Facts About the Meercat
  • Meerkats are extremely social, and often groom or play with each other. They tend to live in groups (‘gangs’ or ‘mobs’) of around 20 individuals, although far larger groups are not uncommon.
  • Meerkat groups use several different burrows, moving between them regularly. The burrows have a range of tunnels and different ‘rooms’, and allow the meerkats to remain cool during hot periods.
  • Meerkats have highly developed senses of smell, hearing and vision. The black bands around the eyes help protect them from the glare of the African sun. They also have specific vocalisations to communicate different information such as type of approaching predator.
  • When groups are out foraging, individuals will take turns acting as sentinels. A sentinel will stand on his/her hind legs and scan the area for potential danger and will make an alarm call if a predator is spotted, warning the group members and allowing for a fast getaway.
  • Meerkats are tremendous diggers and can dig up their own body weight in earth in only a couple of seconds.
  • Meerkats enjoy sun-bathing! In the morning when they come out from their burrows they will often spend time simply standing-up and warming themselves by the sun’s rays.
  •  Meerkat groups have a highly developed social structure, with individuals playing various important roles in the community. For example babysitters will remain with young pups while the rest of the gang are out foraging, and elder meerkats will take responsibility for mentoring the young, teaching them how to forage and to be alert to danger.
  • Researchers from the University of Cambridge studying meerkat groups in the Kalahari Desert have acknowledged that meerkats have “traditions” which  are passed down generation to generation.
  • Scientists have found that some meerkat groups are particularly lazy and will routinely rise later, whereas others will get up and leave their burrows far earlier. Laziness and liveliness are therefore culturally biased in meerkats.
  • Meerkats’ highly cooperative social behaviour has seen many firms using meerkats as examples in workplace training workshops to encourage more team-spirit and cooperative working. The project ‘All for One – The Meerkat Way’ is being used by over a thousand industry-leading companies.

Clancy's comment: Love 'em!

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