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Sulpicia was a poet who lived during the reign of Augustus.


Sulpicia lived in the reign of Augustus, and was the daughter of Servius Sulpicius Rufus; her uncle and guardian was Messalla Corvinus, an important patron of literature.[1]


Her verses were preserved with those of Tibullus in the third book of elegies, the Appendix tibulliana,[2] and were for a long time attributed to him. They consist of six elegiac poems (3.13-18) addressed to a lover called Cerinthus. Cerinthus was most likely a pseudonym, in the style of the day (e. g. Catullus' Lesbia, Ovid's Corinna). Cerinthus has sometimes been thought to refer to the Cornutus addressed by Tibullus in two of his Elegies, probably an aristocratic Caecilius Cornutus. Recent criticism has tended away from attempting to identify Cerinthus with an historical figure in favour of noting the literary implications of the pseudonym.[3]

For a long time many academics regarded Sulpicia as an amateur author, notable for nothing but her gender. This view was challenged by Santirocco in an article published in 1979,[4] and subsequently the literary merit of this collection of poems has been more fully explored.[5]

Some critics[6][7] have challenged the view that the poems attributed to Sulpicia were authored by a woman; Hubbard suggests the content of the poems is too risqué to have been penned by an aristocratic woman in Rome, while Habinek and Holzberg both suggest that the poems are too sophisticated to have been written by a woman.[8] In an overview of Sulpician criticism, Alison Keith described the logic of Hubbard's article as "tortuous" and also highlights problems in Holzberg and Habinek's attempts to efface female authorship.[9] In contrast, Hallett argues for increasing the numbers of poems attributed to Sulpicia to include poems 8-12 from the Corpus Tibullianum, which had previously been attributed to the amicus Sulpiciae (friend of Sulpicia).[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Mahoney, Anne. "Sulpicia, Carmina Omnia". Tufts Perseus. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ Pearcy, L.T., “Erasing Cerinthus: Sulpicia and her audience”, The Classical World, v.100, n.1 (Fall 2006) 31-36.
  4. ^ Santirocco, M. S. 1979. "Sulpicia Reconsidered." CJ 74.3: 229-39.
  5. ^ An overview of Sulpician criticism until 2006 can be found in Keith, Alison - "Critical trends in Interpreting Sulpicia", The Classical World, Vol. 100, No. 1 (Fall, 2006), pp. 3-10
  6. ^ Thomas K. Hubbard (2004). "The Invention of Sulpicia". The Classical Journal. 100 (2): 177–194. JSTOR 4132992. 
  7. ^ Niklas Holzberg (1998). "Four Poets and a Poetess or a Portrait of the Poet as a Young Man? Thoughts on Book 3 of the Corpus Tibullanium". The Classical Journal. 94 (2): 169–191. JSTOR 3298209. 
  8. ^ T. Habinek, The Politics of Latin Literature (Princeton 1998); N. Holzberg, "Four Poets and a Poetess or A Portrait of the Poet as a Young Man? Thoughts on Book 3 of the Corpus TibullianumT CJ 94 (1999).
  9. ^ Keith, Alison - "Critical trends in Interpreting Sulpicia", The Classical World, Vol. 100, No. 1 (Fall, 2006), pp. 3-10
  10. ^ Hallett, J., “The eleven elegies of the Augustan Poet Sulpicia”, Churchill, L.J., and Brown, P.R., Women writing Latin: From Roman Antiquity to Early Modern Europe, vol. 1 (New York, 2002) 45-65.


  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Sulpicia". Encyclopædia Britannica. 26 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 69. 
  • Stevenson, Jane: Women Latin Poets. Language, Gender, and Authority, from Antiquity to the Eighteenth Century (Oxford, 2005), especially ch. 1: "Classical Latin Women Poets" (31-48)

External links[edit]

Poems of Sulpicia: