Sulpicia (satirist)

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Sulpicia was an ancient Roman poet who was active during the reign of the emperor Domitian (r. AD 81–96). She is mostly known through two poems of Martial;[1] she is also mentioned by Ausonius, Sidonius Apollinaris, and Fulgentius.[2] A seventy-line hexameter poem and two lines of iambic trimeter attributed to Sulpicia survive; the hexameters are now generally thought to have been a fourth- or fifth-century imitation of Sulpicia.[3]

Life[edit]

Sulpicia was married to a man named Calenus, to whom Martial praises her faithfulness.[4] Martial's epigram 10.38 suggests that they were married for at least 15 years.[5] The poem seems to suggest that the marriage between Calenus and Sulpicia was over when it was written; Holt Parker argues that it was written as a poem of consolation after Sulpicia's death,[6] though Amy Richlin suggests that it might instead have been written about Sulpicia and Calenus having divorced instead.[5]

Poetry[edit]

Sulpicia seems to have written poetry that was erotic or satirical.[3] She is the only woman known from antiquity who was associated with a comic genre.[7] Judging by the surviving testimonia on Sulpicia, she openly discussed her sexual desire for her husband; this outspoken centring of female sexual desire is extremely unusual amongst ancient women poets.[8] By contrast with the male love poets of ancient Rome, however, Sulpicia portrays her desire only within the context of her marriage.[9]

Two lines of iambic trimeter attributed to Sulpicia are quoted by a scholiast on Juvenal.[10] The quotation mentions Calenus, identifying the Sulpicia named by the scholiast with the satirist.[11] These lines are generally accepted as the only surviving fragment of Sulpicia's poetry.[12]

A seventy-line hexameter poem on the expulsion from Rome of Greek philosophers by Domitian was for a long time attributed to Sulpicia.[1] The poem was preserved in an anthology from the early fifth century.[13] The only manuscript known to have survived antiquity, preserved at Bobbio in northern Italy, is now lost; the modern text of the poem derives from four copies of a transcript made of the manuscript in the late fifth century.[14] The poem, known as the Sulpiciae Conquestio (Sulpicia's Complaint) was first printed in 1498, and its authorship remained unquestioned until the second half of the 19th century.[15] In 1868, J.C.G. Boot argued that the poem was a 15th century composition; in 1873 Emil Baehrens was the first to suggest it was a work of late antiquity.[16] Modern scholars generally consider that the work was not by Sulpicia, and was composed in the fourth or fifth century AD.[1]

Martial compares Sulpicia's poetry, along with her conduct, favourably to Sappho.[4] Her poetry seems to have continued to be known and well thought of into the fifth century – she is mentioned alongside Plato, Cicero, Martial, and Juvenal by Ausonius and Sidonius Apollinaris.[17]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Merriam 1991, p. 303.
  2. ^ Parker 1992, p. 92.
  3. ^ a b Richlin 1992, p. 125.
  4. ^ a b Merriam 1991, p. 304.
  5. ^ a b Richlin 1992, p. 128.
  6. ^ Parker 1992, pp. 94–5.
  7. ^ Richlin 1992, p. 126.
  8. ^ Parker 1992, pp. 92–3.
  9. ^ Parker 1992, p. 94.
  10. ^ Parker 1992, p. 89.
  11. ^ Parker 1992, pp. 90–1.
  12. ^ Hallett 2013, p. 87.
  13. ^ Butrica 2006, p. 70.
  14. ^ Butrica 2000.
  15. ^ Butrica 2006, pp. 71–2.
  16. ^ Butrica 2006, p. 72.
  17. ^ Richlin 1992, p. 132.

Works cited[edit]

  • Butrica, J. L. (2000). "Sulpiciae Conquestio".
  • Butrica, J. L. (2006). "The Fabella of Sulpicia ("Epigrammata Bobiensia" 37)". Phoenix. 60 (1/2).
  • Hallett, Judith (2013). "The Fragment of Martial's Sulpicia". In Churchill, Laurie J.; Brown, Phyllis R.; Jeffrey, Jane E. Women Writing Latin From Roman Antiquity to Early Modern Europe. Volume 1: Women Writing Latin in Roman Antiquity, Late Antiquity, and the Early Christian Era. New York: Routledge.
  • Merriam, Carol U. (1991). "The Other Sulpicia". The Classical World. 84 (4).
  • Parker, Holt (1992). "Other Remarks on the Other Sulpicia". The Classical World. 86 (2).
  • Richlin, Amy (1992). "Sulpicia the Satirist". The Classical World. 86 (2).

External links[edit]