Thursday, January 26, 2017


Hans-Christian Günther, Sulpiciae Elegidia. Text, Übersetzung, Einleitung und Anmerkungen. Studia classica et mediaevalia, 13. Nordhausen: Verlag Traugott Bautz, 2016. Pp. 49. ISBN 9783959481533. €15.00.

Reviewed by Lee T. Pearcy, Bryn Mawr College (

Version at BMCR home site

This little book, as the first sentence of its foreword disarmingly announces, "serves no scholarly purpose"; it aims instead to bring Sulpicia and her work to the attention of a German-speaking public, even one without Latin. Barely fifty pages of large type with generous spacing contain, besides the foreword, an introduction; a text of Corpus Tibullianum 3.13–18 = 4.7–12, with the first poem (4.7) transposed to the final position; a brief, mostly descriptive commentary; and a Literaturverzeichnis of twelve items, seven of which are by Günther, who is also an editor of the series in which this volume appears. A review will have to be brief to avoid being nearly as long as the book under review.

The introduction (13–23) carries readers back to the biographical, aesthetic criticism of an earlier era. Sulpicia, like Arethusa in Propertius 4.3, "gives free rein to all her girlish desires and longings, disappointments and fears" (22); her poetry is compared to the music of a clavichord or a Chinese zither, or Brahms' late piano music. Biographical details may be inferred from the poetry: Cerinthus was of lower social status, and Sulpicia herself must be younger than twenty.

The text, which is accompanied by a rudimentary apparatus criticus, differs from Postgate's OCT in half-a-dozen places. Most are immaterial, but quoniam for quam vis at 4.8,8 and ne legat for me legat at 4.7,8 make Sulpicia into a poet less transgressive, and to my way of thinking less interesting, than the one in Postgate's text. The facing German translation elegantly preserves the metrical structure of the original.

Commentary and text draw heavily on Hermann Tränkle's 1990 edition of the Appendix Tibulliana. While the introduction attempted to create a biography of Sulpicia, the commentary does a decent job of placing her poems in their literary context.

Misprints are few. Susan Treggiari appears as "Treggiani" in the bibliography but correctly in note 7 on page 16, and in the epigraph from Gabriele D'Annunzio's Romanzi, "dolcezza" has become "dlocezza."

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