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Permanent link (DOI): https://doi.org/10.7939/R3R20S35N

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Why is Sulpicia a Woman? Open Access

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Other title
Subject/Keyword
Roman elegy
Latin literature
Tibullus
Giovanni Pontano
gender
Sulpicia
Latin
manuscript studies
Sappho
M. Valerius Messalla Corvinus
Diotima
pseudepigrapha
Plato's Symposium
Corpus Tibullianum
reception studies
Latin love elegy
Neo-Latin
Greek elegy
Type of item
Thesis
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Kletke, Stefanie L
Supervisor and department
Stewart, Selina (Classics)
Examining committee member and department
Wiesenthal, Christine (English)
Sweeney, Dennis (History)
Nagel, Rebecca (Classics)
Department
Department of History and Classics
Specialization
Ancient Societies and Cultures
Date accepted
2014-06-05T14:33:21Z
Graduation date
2014-11
Degree
Master of Arts
Degree level
Master's
Abstract
Today it is relatively unquestioned that Sulpicia, the elegiac woman of [Tib.] 3.8-18, was a historical woman of the same name who lived and wrote Latin elegies in Augustan Rome, and that the poems attributed to her are autobiographical records of love, thereby making Sulpicia a Roman version of Sappho. However, if the extant evidence is given a closer look, a different picture emerges. Specifically, if one recognizes the generic conventions at play in the poems, there is no longer reason to date them to the Augustan period, nor to read the figure of Sulpicia as different than any other constructed elegiac woman, nor to read the poems as disconnected from the rest of the genre of Latin love elegy. Rather, the poems quite likely date to after the heyday of the genre, and thus they appear to be pseudepigrapha or chronological fakes, written to recall and respond to the work of the canonical elegists and the Greek roots of the genre. And, if this is their correct context, it follows that the figure of Sulpicia was specifically chosen by the unknown author to provide a particular interpretation and/or comment on the genre, not unlike the fictional figure of Diotima in Plato’s Symposium. The Sulpicia that then emerges is not a Roman Sappho in the sense that we would like her to be, but rather a purely literary figure such as she is portrayed in the first known post-classical construction of her by the humanist Giovanni Pontano. Though such a reading may result in the loss of what was previously thought to be the only extant work of a female Roman poet, this justifiably renewed line of research into male authorship for the poems brings with it much potential.
Language
English
DOI
doi:10.7939/R3R20S35N
Rights
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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