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Daughter of Servius Sulpicius Rufus, niece and ward of Valerius Messalla Corvinus. Her six short elegies in the Tibullan collection are the only extant poems by a woman in the Classical era. They record her love affair with a young man of her own class whom she calls, in accordance with the elegiac tradition, by the Greek pseudonym Cerinthus. Whether or not the affair was a prelude to marriage, the public display of sexual independence on the part of an unmarried female aristocrat runs counter to conventional morality. Syntactical idiosyncrasies have caused the poems to be branded as amateurish, but behind the apparent spontaneity and sincerity lies a self‐conscious artistry and originality of thought and expression.

Subjects: History — Classical Studies.

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