Lesbos Remains Lesbos

The transliteration of the name of the Greek island Lesbos (Λέσβος) in the northeastern Aegean is Lesvos. The classic Greek letter [β -beta] is pronounced [v-vita] in modern Greek. The inhabitants of Lesvos are Lesvians and it is not really accurate to refer to them as Lesbians because of a Beta/Vita confusion. To get around this some islanders call the island Mytilini, the name of the capital city, and are sensitive about being associated with Lesbians who are gay women. In fact Dimitris Lambrou, the Greek editor of the right wing journal Davlos brought the issue to court in Athens to forbid the use of the name Lesbian by gay women claiming that Lesvians have the exclusive right to it. The Athens court ruled against the measure on July 18th and fined Lambrou $366 dollars, a token sum considering the ridulous fuss. For it is not only the use of the word lesbian that Lambrou wants to limit to the residents of Lesbos but even who is or isn't a lesbian - such as the poet Sappho who was born on the island.

The island of Lesbos was named in antiquity after the Thessalian hero Lesbos, husband of Methymne, daughter of Makar. The name Lesbos is thought to come from the poet Sappho who was born on the island in 7 BC and who wrote romantic poetry to women. Some islanders strongly disagree that she was a lesbian and there are rumors that lesbians who visit the island to honor Sappho scare away tourists. But it seems to be the consensus of most islanders that tourism is on the increase because of international lesbians.

Don't these people have something better to do with their time? Whether Sappho was a Lesbian or just a Lesvian? Whether its Lesbos or Lesvos ? For example helping the wildlife (Lesbian spelled with a B) - or birdwatching on Lesvos spelled with a V when the birds first land after winter migration.

Note: I have regularly visited Lesb/vos for the past 12 years and have made films on the island which have been shown in Sweden, Greece and France.


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