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The sound-effects in this poem convey Sulpicia's mood. There are several elisions, more than in the rest of her poems put together, and she pointedly uses the sibilants in her name and her father's to hiss at Cerinthus.

gratum est: That is, “gratias ago”, or “mihi valde placet”: she's being sarcastic, of course.

securus: confident of her feelings for him.

[2] male inepta: “valde stulta, quam stultissima”.

[3] togae: That is, a woman wearing a toga, or the sort of woman who would. Proper “matronae” wore the “stola”; only a prostitute or a very low-class woman would wear a toga.

pressum quasillo scortum: a slave carrying a heavy basket of wool to be spun. This image contrasts with that of the toga-clad woman, since spinning and wool-work were traditional tasks for the virtuous Roman lady; see, for example, Lucretia in Livy 1.57ff.

[4] potiorquam: comparison

Servi filia Sulpicia: Sulpicia makes a point of her patrician status. This is the only pentameter in Sulpicia's poetry that does not end with a two-syllable word. The metrical oddity calls attention to the name. Note also the hissing alliteration.

[5] suntquibus: Although Sulpicia does not name her concerned friends, we can assume it was obvious to Cerinthus who she meant, probably Messalla.

illa: in apposition with “maxima causa” in the next line, not a reference to the woman who has caught Cerinthus's eye.

quibus, dolori: Double dative. The couplet might be paraphrased “Sunt qui timent ne cedam...”.

[6] ignototoro: It's not clear whose bed is in question here. Sulpicia may be saying "they don't want me falling for the sort of obscure young man who has liaisons with slaves," or she may mean "they don't want to see me come in second to a girl who has not had my advantages." Either way, she is threatening Cerinthus. Is she bluffing, or does Messalla know and approve of the relationship with Cerinthus?

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  • Commentary references from this page (1):
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 1, 57
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