Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Sulpicia, a Roman poetess from the 1st century BCE, is only known by her name and a handful of poems included with Tibullus’.  I am including this one for two reasons: the mid-line sentence that starts “Let my joy...”. And the last sentence, which amuses because, thanks to the word chosen by the translator, it connects with a famous line from a Seinfeld episode, thus making a connection across two thousand years, where how “worthiness” in a lover is measured a certain way.  (It’s also interesting because sponges WERE used for contraception in the ancient world!)  The reader will have to know American TV from a certain period to get the reference.

                   transl. By Aliki and Willis Barnstone
At last love has come.  I would be more ashamed
  to hide it in cloth than leave it naked.
I prayed to the Muse and won.  Venus dropped him
  in my arms, doing for me what she
Had promised.  Let my joy be told, let those
  who have none tell it in a story.
Personally, I would never send off words
  in sealed tablets for none to read.
I delight in sinning and hate to compose a mask
  for gossip.  We met.  We are both worthy.

                                                                     Sulpicia - 1st. Cent. BCE

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