The Representation of a Maiden in the Image of Fruit in Sappho’s poem “Like the Sweet Apple”

Sappho’s poem “Like the Sweet Apple” manifests the practice of comparing girls with fruits. In this particular point, we can see the effect of her living in Ancient Greece where feminine beauty has become the subject of popular adoration and hymning. Probably, the author’s experience on the Isle of Lesbos has added its specific characteristics to her literary creation. As a result, it has found its reflection in her proclamation of women in all their aspects.

In fact, there is one evident reason for fruits to be used for representing of maidens. It lies in paralleling between fruit ripening and the process of development of the female body. Really, both processes take some time, during which a girl becomes a maiden just the same as a fruit passes through several stages from being small and green to becoming mature, beautiful and aromatic. Moreover, there is one more aspect of such a comparison implying something pleasant to taste and smell. In this respect odor of a young woman’s skin as well as tactile contact with it gives men a special feeling of touching with so-called ripe fruit, which, however, is not available for tasting by everyone, as the choicest fruits are at hard-to-reach spots, where they are well seen but at the same time only the most skilled harvesters may get them. Sappho underlines the meaning of saving of maidens’ chastity for the stage of their sexual maturity. That’s exactly why some young women just as sweet fruits are not picked up – “Ungathered (till now)” (Sappho) – not because of being unnoticed but because of their unavailability for the access of everyone wishing to taste their rich flavor.

 

References
Sappho. Like the Sweet Apple.