Girls Gone Wild: Female Authorship in Augustan Rome

Date
2020
Authors
Sloan, Bailey
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Worldwide access
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Abstract

It is no surprise that, based on the records that we have today, the literary field of Ancient Rome consisted almost solely of men. However, one female author survives, hidden within the Tibullan corpus. In six short elegies, Sulpicia presents herself in the roles of both the author and the authored, the lover and the beloved. The voices of female authors also appear within the Ovidian corpus, this time authored by Ovid himself in the letters of mythical and historical heroines to their absent lovers in his Heroides. These women struggle with the limitations of separation from their male counterparts in various ways, using writing both to show their weakness and grief, and to gain some freedom to speak their mind, all the while being authored by a man. In this thesis, I will analyze the poetry of Sulpicia and three of the letters of Ovid’s heroines, those of Penelope, Hero, and Sappho, to show the complicated relationship between the female voice and authorship. I will show that authorship confuses the female identity, obscuring it with the masculine qualities inherent in elegy, while still providing a platform for the feminine voice that might not have otherwise been heard.

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Keywords
Women., Authorship., Elegy., Latin Poetry., Rome., Ovid., Sulpicia., Female Voice.
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