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A woman from Roman Egypt, holding a notebook and a pen

Not really Sulpicia: A woman from Roman Egypt, holding a notebook and a pen

Who was Sulpicia?

Sulpicia is one of very few Roman women whose poetry managed to last through the ages so we can read it. She lived in Rome in the time of the Roman emperor Augustus, around the same time as Ovid, maybe around 20 BC or so.

Who was Ovid?
Women in the Roman Empire
More Latin Literature
All our ancient Rome articles

What did she write about?

She wrote poetry addressed to a boyfriend, probably an imaginary boyfriend, just like Ovid wrote to an imaginary girlfriend about the same time. She doesn’t write the same poems a man would, because men’s poems about women look at women’s bodies from the outside. Sulpicia makes a point of her difference, showing the reader what it is like to live inside a woman’s body. Her poems themselves become metaphors for a woman’s body.

Did Sulpicia really write these poems?

A lot of scholars have tried to find ways to believe that men wrote these poems instead. There is no reason not to believe what the manuscripts tell us, though. And other scholars have shown that the poems’ style is very different from the way Roman men wrote.

More about Sulpicia from Women in Antiquity

More women poets:

And in India – Lalla Arifa
And in Japan
Or Phyllis Wheatley in America

Learn by doing: write a love poem of your own

Bibliography and further reading about Sulpicia:

Roman literature
Ancient Rome home