SULPICIA, POETESS IN ROME – The Roman amorous elegy with a woman’s voice

Beautiful, loose and passionate carms

In Latin literature, you find male authors. Still, cultured and refined women existed, but they have been ignore. Writing, as well as acting in the theater, was for men. She lived at the beginning of the imperial era of Rome, that is, at the dawn of the cultural explosion that will generate the best of Latin literature. Six love poems dedicated to her beloved Cerinto are what remains of her passion for poetry. Sulpicia was one of the few writers of antiquity whose work has come down to us. Six very delicate poetic stanzas are enough to introduce you to a woman who lived many past centuries.

WITHOUT CERINTHUS – The hateful birthday arrives that I will sadly have to spend in a boring countryside, and without Cerinthus. What is sweeter than the city? Alternatively, maybe that, for a girl, a country house and the cold river that flows in the countryside of Arezzo is suitable. Come on; do not worry Messalla, too solicitous towards me: travel is often not appropriate. Carried away, I leave my heart and my feelings here, even if you do not allow me to follow my will.

She was the daughter of an orator and the grandson of a lawyer. It is suggestive to know a love story in the light of verses where its consummation is report with terms that are not adequate to the modesty of a Roman woman. What you wrote has been preserv in a poetic collection by Tibulus. By reading Sulpicia, you will discover the contents of her short loving letters. One of her poems faithfully reflects the restrictions to which Rome subjected a young woman of her class: she proclaims there not only her love, but also the limitation of the sexual behavior of women of her time.

AT THE END LOVE CAME – At last love came. So great that it would be more shame to hide it than the fame of having revealed it. Defeated by the prayers of the Muses, Citerea brought it and placed it in my bosom. Venus kept her promises: and my joys. Let anyone who does not have their own tell her. I would not want to entrust something of my writings, and for someone to read them in front of my beloved. However, I love to have sinned; I am ashamed to assume a holy face for fear of fame. Let them say it: I am a dignified woman. I have been with a worthy man

Her little love songbook even contains a wave of jealousy, in which she reminds her lover whose daughter she is. For a long time Sulpicia was consider an amateur writer, however, for about half a century her work has achieved its own literary dignity. Inside another poem of hers, you will discover that she regrets leaving her lover to hide her passion.

HIDE MY ARDOR – May I never again be such a great passion for you, my life. How it was – I think – a few days ago, if in all my youth I did something stupid, which I confess I regret more than leaving you alone last night, eager to hide my ardor.

The first news about her existence is due to Carol Merriam, an American who published an article on the rediscovery of this Roman poet. In one of her poems, she presents her uncle as someone who decides how and where she should spend her time. Born between 40 and 30 BC, Sulpicia wrote at a very young age. Unfortunately, only forty lines have survived from the daughter of Servius Sulpicius Rufus and Valeria. Yet, they tell us so much about this woman that she were expose to other poets thanks to the acquaintances of her uncle Mesala.

AN IGNOBLE BED – I am glad that you allow yourself a lot about me now, without worrying that I may suddenly fall foolishly into ruin. Also, have at heart a toga and a prostitute burdened by the basket rather than Sulpicia daughter of Servius. There are some worried about me, for whom it would be an immense cause of pain if I succumbed to an ignoble bed.

In order to keep the memory of Sulpicia from your stay in Rome, you could buy a good book, “Passato Prossimo – Roman Women from Tacita to Sulpicia“, which speaks to you not only of years far from ours, but also of feelings that are completely identical to those of our days.

If you want to know writers, you can type, while for poets around the world The sole purpose of this site is to spread the knowledge of these artists and that other people enjoy their works. The property of the images that appear in this blog correspond to their authors.


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