Traditional Roman elegists, such as Propertius, typically used a male speaker that was a slave to love, passive and powerless at the hands of an indifferent lover. Sulpicia’s strong and assertive elegiac style stands out next to these impotent and passive male fellow elegists, which gave her a distinctly feminist voice in Augustan Rome. This presentation will examine Sulpicia’s feminist voice in comparison to Propertius’s traditional passive elegiac voice by comparing Sulpicia 5 and Propertius 1.15. Both of these poem’s speakers have taken ill and would like their lovers by their sides. However, in contrast to Propertius’s traditional elegy, Sulpicia’s speaker demands respect and expects her lover to be there for her. Ultimately, Sulpicia gave women a voice in elegy, thereby giving them a voice with elegy’s male aristocratic audience.
Elizabeth Jerkins, ’15
Iowa City, IA
Majors: Classical Studies, Psychology – Psychology Specialist Concentration
Sponsor: John Gruber-Miller