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The Roman reader would notice that these three words in the final couplet have exactly the same rhythm as the first three words, echoing their boldness, and also that this last couplet brings back the crucial word fama (reputation, fame) from the second line, to make an even stronger statement. The speaker will no longer compose a face for reputation, she will compose (componere) poems, nor does she care if she is the object of gossip. She is worthy of a worthy man (cum digno digna). But the confident clarity of the first three words is not the tenor of the whole poem.

Latin Lyric and Elegiac Poetry (New York and London, 1995), 84. ) In this final poem, Sulpicia echoes the opening poem of her book, for here too she rejects dissimulation, but this time not in the eyes of the world. If the first poem seems to bypass Cerinthus in favour of the readers to whom Sulpicia bares her thoughts, here we feel we have intruded on something that is not for our eyes or ears. Sulpicia addresses herself to Cerinthus, and her regret is as intimate as her defiance was public in the opening poem.

In one of her poems she identifies herself proudly as ‘Sulpicia, the daughter of Servius’; her father is probably Servius Sulpicius Rufus, who was married to Valeria, the sister of Messalla Corvinus, one of Augustus’ generals and the patron of the most distinguished literary salon at Rome. She is, then, a member of the aristocracy, and she speaks from a position that is socially more eminent than that of any of the contemporary male poets; what’s more, she is not afraid to pull rank, something the male elegists (or their personas) are never in a position to do.

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An introduction to the Irish language. by William Neilson


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