Sappho is one of the most popular and elusive figures of Greek myth and culture. Although more influential than Shakespeare and literally worshipped as a goddess, little is known about her life outside of the handful of poetry fragments that survived the ravages of time. Over the centuries she has been portrayed as a chaste schoolteacher, a lusty lesbian showgirl, or a lovesick poet who died pining for the handsome fisherman Phaon.
Here Sappho is an asexual woman who experiences the world with love, passion, and joy. The Tenth Muse isn’t a loveless goddess but a caring human woman with a life full of love and meaning.
For centuries, Sappho has been condemned for who she loved. But what if the love she held in her heart wasn’t physical? If the world’s most passionate poet asexual, does that make the love in her heart less real?
Sappho walked into the family’s dining room and found Charaxus sitting at the table with an angry frown on his face. He looked up at her from his stern brow, with his bushy eyebrows knit together intensely. His thin-lipped mouth had disappeared under the curls of his beard. Every ounce of his being held traces of anger, and every limb was crossed in a pose of restrained fury. Although he scowled at her from his seat at the head of the table, it felt like he was looking down at her in an expression that would have made their father proud. He didn’t even have the pretense of eating breakfast -- he had been waiting up for her to return home.
Nonplussed by his mood, Sappho plopped herself down on her usual chair at the table, and pulled out a balled-up sage green handkerchief from one of her pockets. She untied it and revealed two more pieces of wedding cake from the night before.
He shook his head. She could sense the anger built up in his body language, but she refused to let it affect her.
“Suit yourself.” She pulled the jar of honey from the center of the table and drizzled it liberally on the cake. She picked off pieces until the slices were gone, then licked her fingers clean.
Charaxus glared at her the entire time, rigid and motionless.
“You’re not eating, brother?” she asked in innocent naivety.
“How were the flute girls?” he asked coldly.
Sappho gave an aggravated snort. Instantly the jab how is yours? was on the tip of her tongue. At twenty years old, Sappho would have said it without hesitation. At thirty years old, she would have said it and instantly regretted it. But today, she knew that baiting him would not help the situation. She groused, “How should I know?”
“You didn’t come home last night.”
“You waited up for me? Chaxi, I’m forty. I’m not some little teenager who goes out at night to spite her parents, and you’re definitely not our father. Cut it out.”
“I’m just worried.”
“Awww,” she snorted sarcastically. “No need to worry. It was after midnight when the wedding ended. Phaon escorted me back into town, and let me sleep on his couch. I was too tired to make it all the way back here on foot.”
“I’m worried about your reputation with that boy.”
“So first it was the flute girls, and now it’s Phaon that you’re worried about? Gods, Chaxi! You know he’s not my type. And even still -- he’s half my age. I’m no Gello! And where is this coming from? You know he’s only got eyes for Alcaeus.”
Sappho interrupted him. “Kerkylas was an ass last night. He made both of us uncomfortable, and you know it.”
Her brother huffed. “So why did you book the wedding?”
“Gods, Chaxi, we’re in no position to turn anything down! I need to clear twenty weddings this season or we’ll lose the house.”
He furrowed his brows sternly. “You teach ...”
“You know there’s no money in teaching! I spend half of my wages to supply the oil lamps in the classrooms. And the religious festivals I perform at don’t offer half as much money as a good solid wedding does. So while you’re criticizing my clientele, I’m just grateful that I have a job. That’s it. You get to act all high and mighty, while my singing pays for this house.”
“You shouldn’t ...”
“Oh, no. You don’t get to finish that sentence,” she yelled in a huff. “First, it’s Alcaeus. Then, it’s flute girls. Now, it’s Phaon.” She counted them on her fingers. “While you’re accusing me and criticizing my reputation, it’s your reputation that endangers us, brother. You’re the reason I’m losing customers. You’re the reason we had to mortgage the house. And how is she, brother? How is ol’ Rosy Face? How is the woman you bought?”