Classical Quarterly 38 (01):193- (1988)

In the six remarkable elegidia transmitted in the Tibullan corpus as 3.13–18 we appear to possess the writings of an educated Roman woman of aristocratic family and high literary connections: a woman, moreover, who participates as an equal in one of the most distinguished artistic salons of the age, and composes poetry in an obstinately male genre on the subject of her own erotic experience, displaying a candour and the exercise of a sexual independence startingly at odds with the ideology of her class. Such a figure is either, depending on one's viewpoint, too good to be true or too embarrassing to be tolerated. The case could easily be put that Sulpicia, more perhaps even than Sappho, has found her poems condemned by accident of gender to a century and a half of condescension, disregard, and wilful misconstruction to accommodate the inelastic sexual politics of elderly male philologists. Certainly even the most sympathetic of recent comment is prone to lapse into a form of critical language outlawed in Catullan scholarship thirty years ago. Yet feminist critics have been strangely cautious in their response. A scholar who rose swiftly to the defence of Erinna when that elusive poet's identity was impugned has notoriously written of Sulpicia: ‘She was not a brilliant artist: her poems are of interest only because the author is female.’ Five years late, Sulpicia has found a place in the major sourcebook on ancient women, but with the cycle of poems violently reordered after the judgment of a nineteenth-century critic, anxious to restore his poetess's chastity against the disconcerting frankness of the texts
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DOI 10.1017/S0009838800031402
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Cerinthus' Pia Cura.J. C. Yardley - 1990 - Classical Quarterly 40 (2):568-570.

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