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Sulpicia-Verses From A Roman Poetess

Profile portrait of a young woman from Italy, Campania, Pompeii, painting on plaster, 55-79 A.D. Naples, Museo Archeologico Nazionale.


Today’s sharing from the Blue House of HYGEIA are the poems from Roman Poetess, SULPICIA, as they were preserved within the ‘Miscellanea’ of Tibullus’ poems during the ages under the title: ‘Sulpicia’s Verses’. Here in a modern translation by Antony. S. Kline. For more information about Sulpicia and the context of her poetry, please read our previous post: ‘Irene Vallejo-Echoes of Feminine Voices In Ancient Rome.’


I-Love Proclaimed

Love has come at last, such love that to hide it in shame

would be worse than being spoken of for showing it.

Won over by my Muse, Venus of Cythera,

brought him, and placed him here in my arms.

Venus fulfils what she promised: let my joy be told,

spoken by him who has no joy of his own.

I wouldn’t want to order any of my letters sealed

so that none can read them before my lover does.

I delight in my sin: I loathe composing my looks

for public opinion: let them declare worth meets worth.

Original Latin

Tandem uenit amor, qualem texisse pudori
quam nudasse alicui sit mihi fama magis.
Exorata meis illum Cytherea Camenis
attulit in nostrum deposuitque sinum.
5Exsoluit promissa Venus: mea gaudia narret,
dicetur si quis non habuisse sua.
Non ego signatis quicquam mandare tabellis,
ne legat id nemo quam meus ante, uelim,
sed peccasse iuuat, uultus componere famae
10taedet: cum digno digna fuisse ferar.


II-The Hateful Journey

My hateful birthday’s here, to be spent in sadness,

in the wretched country, and without Cerinthus.

What’s sweeter than the city? Is a villa fit for a girl

or the chilly river that runs through Arretium’s fields?

Peace now, Messalla, from over-zealous care of me:

journeys, dear relative, aren’t always welcome.

Snatched away, I leave my mind and feelings here,

she whom coercion won’t allow to make her own decisions.

Original Latin

nuisus natalis adest, qui rure molesto
et sine Cerintho tristis agendus erit.
Dulcius urbe quid est? An uilla sit apta puellae
atque Arretino frigidus amnis agro?
5Iam, nimium Messalla mei studiose, quiescas;
non tempestiuae saepe, propinque, uiae.
Hic animum sensusque meos abducta relinquo
arbitrio, quamuis non sinis esse, meo.


III-The Journey Abandoned

Did you know the threat of that wretched journey’s

been lifted from your girl’s spirits? Now I can be in Rome

for my birthday. Let’s all celebrate this birthday

that comes to you, now, by unexpected chance.

Original Latin

Scis iter ex animo sublatum triste puellae?
Natali Romae iam licet esse tuo.
Omnibus ille dies nobis natalis agatur,
qui nec opinanti nunc tibi forte uenit.


IV-Her Reproach

Be grateful I’d not suddenly fall into evil foolishness,

now you allow yourself free reign, and are careless of me.

Any toga, any whore loaded down by a basket of wool

is dearer to you than Sulpicia, Servius’s daughter.

But they’re anxious for me, those for whom the greatest

reason for grief is lest I give myself to an unworthy bed.

Original Latin

Gratum est, securus multum quod iam tibi de me
permittis, subito ne male inepta cadam.
Sit tibi cura togae potior pressumque quasillo
scortum quam Serui filia Sulpicia:
5solliciti sunt pro nobis, quibus illa dolori est
ne cedam ignoto maxima causa toro.


V-In Sickness

Have you any kind thought for your girl, Cerinthus,

now that fever wastes my weary body?

Ah, otherwise I would not want to conquer

sad illness, if I thought you did not wish it too.

And what use is it to me to conquer illness, if you

can endure my trouble with indifferent heart?

Original Latin

Estne tibi, Cerinthe, tuae pia cura puellae,
quod mea nunc uexat corpora fessa calor?
A ego non aliter tristes euincere morbos
optarim, quam te si quoque uelle putem.
5At mihi quid prosit morbos euincere, si tu
nostra potes lento pectore ferre mala?


VI-Her Apology

Let me not be such a feverish passion to you, my love,

as I seem to have been a few days ago,

if I’ve done anything in my foolish youth

which I’ve owned to regretting more

than leaving you, alone, last night

wishing to hide the desire inside me.

Original Latin

Ne tibi sim, mea lux, aeque iam feruida cura
ac uideor paucos ante fuisse dies,
si quicquam tota commisi stulta iuuenta
cuius me fatear paenituisse magis,
5hesterna quam te solum quod nocte reliqui,
ardorem cupiens dissimulare meum.


About Sulpicia:🌿Latin original here: 🌿More A.S. Kline translations here:🌿And here:
Sulpicia-Verses From A Roman Poetess

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