This poem was written by Sulpicia, a Roman aristocrat living during the rule of Augustus Caesar. She was daughter of Servius Sulpicius Rufus and a niece of Messalla Corvinus. Therefor this is not written by the Sulpicia who lived during the reign of Domitian. There is a lot of debate surrounding Sulpicia. Some argue she is an amateur poet of no real talent, while others regard her more highly. Some argue she didn’t even write the poems at all holding the poems are too risqué to be written by a female aristocrat and too sophisticated to be written by a female. Some argue against this stating they only feel this was to efface female authorship.

Drat my hateful birthday
to be spent in the boring old country.
It’s going to be a day of mourning
without Cerinthus to hug.
Oh the joys of city life!
Is a musty old country house
Any fit place for a girl?
And that freezing river Arezzo!
Please, sweet Messalla relax,
too anxious, as ever, for my comfort!
Banish this grim expedition
totally out of your mind.
If I’m to be snatched away
I’ll leave heart and soul behind here,
Since I’m not to be granted
licence to run my life.

I’m grateful very grateful
for the favour you’ve just done me.
You’ve saved me from being a fool,
and rushing into your arms.
Go chasing whores as you will
seducing maids from their sewing,
So much better prospects, I’m sure,
then the daughter of Servius Sulpicius!
The main thing prompting
the kind friend who told on you
Was the pain of seeing me lost out
to a love-couch of no standing.

Let your longing for me, my love,
lose the heat of a few days ago
If I have ever before committed
in the whole of my youthful life
As stupid a mistake as this
or one I’ve regretted more.
I left you yesterday night,
ran off and left you alone –
Honestly, love, it was only
that I didn’t dare show my passion.

 

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