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Later legends surrounding Sappho's love for the ferryman Phaon and her death are unreliable.

Sappho was a prolific poet, probably composing around 10,000 lines.

Parker argues that Sappho should be considered as part of a group of female friends for whom she would have performed, just as her contemporary Alcaeus is.

The Suda also attributes to Sappho epigrams, elegiacs, and iambics, but the only epigrams attributed to Sappho to survive are in fact later works, and the iambic and elegiac poems attributed to her in antiquity were probably also actually later imitations.

However, the papyrus tradition suggests that this may not have been the case: a series of papyri published in 2014 contains fragments of ten consecutive poems from Book I of the Alexandrian edition of Sappho, of which only two are certainly love poems, while at least three and possibly four are primarily concerned with family.

Whatever its make-up, the Alexandrian edition of Sappho probably grouped her poems by their metre: ancient sources tell us that each of the first three books contained poems in a single specific metre.

Ancient tradition held that Sappho's appearance was "small and dark".This description may have come from her own words, and it may be significant that this description does not conform to the archaic Greek ideal of female beauty.Alcaeus possibly describes Sappho as "violet-haired", Sappho was said to have three brothers: Erigyius, Larichus, and Charaxus.According to Athenaeus, Sappho often praised Larichus for pouring wine in the town hall of Mytilene, an office held by boys of the best families.This indication that Sappho was born into an aristocratic family is consistent with the sometimes rarefied environments that her verses record.

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