“Cards Against Sappho”
The 2011 politically incorrect game Cards Against Humanity is an evergreen favorite. At Columbia, Cards Against Sappho would (hopefully) be as successful.
Sappho was a lyric poet of Ancient Greece, but her work has been lost with time. She survived in fragments of papyri and in citations within other works. Her poems are full of blanks — and this is the starting point of Cards Against Sappho.
In my game, the black cards are Sappho’s fragments, and the white cards are references to the Greek world surrounding her. Because the poetess writes about mundane things, love, and feelings, the cards closely resonate with the player. Moreover, Sappho’s poems have a strong musical rhythm, which leads to eloquent and expressive prompts. Sappho’s poems work as cards because they are understandable, relatable, and catchy.
In the context of her time, Sappho can be read as a cultural reviewer. She would write about the Iliad, myths, traditions — and put all of these together. As said in a fragment, she is a “mythweaver.” Sappho’s poems are not static, but part of a dialogue associated with pop culture during her time. In order to keep Sappho alive, we need to renew the subject and the form.
Sappho was an entertainer; Greeks would ask her to perform at their weddings. Entertainment has changed over the years, and maybe now a politically incorrect card game entertains us more than a marriage. The blanks offer us the best opportunity to revitalize the poetess’ persona by making it contemporary. This game translates Sappho’s lyrics to their 21st century form. It calls on the players to fill the blank spaces as they want and expands the conversation Sappho started. Cards Against Sappho is a free space of imaginal adventure — as Sappho’s work is.
About the Scholar: Gabriel Agostini
Gabriel Agostini is a freshman in SEAS majoring in Applied Math. He was born and raised in Porto Alegre, Brazil. Since he arrived at Columbia, Gabriel enjoys taking humanities classes while he tries to finish his calculus homework, memorizing the subway system, and bragging about having written his P3 on Taylor Swift.