Erinna in Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities (1898)

A poetess, and the friend of Sappho. She flourished about the year B.C. 610. All that is known of her is contained in the following words of Eustathius ( ad Il. ii. p. 327): "Erinna was born in Lesbos, or in Rhodes, or in Teos, or in Telos, the little island near Cnidus. She was a poetess, and wrote a poem called ‘the Distaff’ (Ἠλακάτη) in the Aeolic and Doric dialect; it consisted of 300 hexameter lines. She was the friend of Sappho, and died unmarried. It was thought that her verses rivalled those of Homer. She was only nineteen years of age when she died." Chained by her mother to the spinning-wheel, Erinna had as yet known the charm of existence in imagination alone. She probably expressed in her poem the restless and aspiring thoughts which crowded on her youthful mind as she pursued her monotonous work. We possess at the present day only four lines by Erinna; for though three epigrams ascribed to her are given by Schneidewin in his Delectus Poesis Graecae Elegiacae (Göttingen, 1839), two at least are not genuine.

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