Corinna was a poet from Tanagra in Boeotia, in ancient Greece. Very little of her work has survived to the present, and even the century she lived in is disputed, but she is traditionally an elder contemporary of Pindar (c.520-c.440 BCE).

Several legends connect them: she instructed him in composition. She told him he didn't mention mythological figures enough in one poem, and in his next he overdid. Her reply, that one should sow by handfuls, not by the whole sack, became proverbial. She beat him in poetry competitions five times.

Corinna wrote lyric poetry in her native Boeotian dialect, and this presents the dating problem. Before 1906 only fragments of hers were known, quoted in much later writers to illustrate metrical points. But in that year a papyrus in Berlin was found to have large parts of two works by her. These manuscripts incorporated major changes in the Boeotian dialect known to have taken place since her traditional date: so either she was considerably later than thought, or her works had been rewritten in modernized spelling a couple of hundred years after her death.

That she was a woman contributed to her subsequent neglect. As with Sappho, ill-natured stories clung to her. One, which I can no longer find my source for so I'm going by memory, is that critics accused her of using her beauty to sway the judges when she beat Pindar.

Here is an example of her style. The translation is by L.R. Palmer.

tân de pé:do:n trîs men ekhi
Deus pateír, pánto:n basiléus,
trîs de pónto: gâme médo:n
Potidáo:n, tân de douîn
Phûbos léktra kratoúni,
tan d' ían Mé:as agathos
pês Hermâs. hoúto: gar Éro:s
ke: Koúpris pithétan, tio:s
en dómo:s bántas krouphádan
kó:ras enní' helésthe:.

Of the daughters Father Zeus, the King of all, has three
And three were wed by Poseidon, ruler of the sea,
Of two Phoebus has mastery of their bed,
One, Hermes, goodly son of Maia (possesses)
. For thus did Eros and the Cyprian persuade them,
Going secretly into your house, to take the nine girls.

Ovid used the name Corinna for the heroine of many of his love poems, the Amores. Herrick also used the name, in "Corinna's going a Maying".

In the French form Corinne it was used by Mme de Staël as the name of a novel in 1807, and its heroine, and has passed into general usage as a name from that.

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