The earlier lived in the reign of Augustus, and was a niece of Messalla, the patron of literature. Her verses, which were preserved with those of Tibullus and were for long attributed to him, are elegiac poems addressed to a lover called Cerinthus, possibly the Cornutus addressed by Tibullus in two of his Elegies (bk. ii., 2 and 3; see Schanz, Gesch. d. röm. Litt. § 284; F Plessis, La Poésie latine, pp. 376-377 and references there given).
The younger Sulpicia lived during the reign of Domitian. She is praised by Martial (x. 35, 38), who compares her to Sappho, as a model of wifely devotion, and wrote a volume of poems, describing with considerable freedom of language the methods adopted to retain her husband Calenus's affection. An extant poem (70 hexameters) also bears her name. It is in the form of a dialogue between Sulpicia and the muse Calliope, and is chiefly a protest against the banishment of the philosophers by the edict of Domitian (AD 94), as likely to throw Rome back into a state of barbarism.
At the same time Sulpicia expresses the hope that no harm will befall Calenus. The muse reassures her, and prophesies the downfall of the tyrant. It is now generally agreed that the poem (the manuscript of which was discovered in the monastery of Bobbio in 1493, but has long been lost) is not by Sulpicia, but is of much later date, probably the 5th century; according to some it is a 15th century production, and not identical with the Bobbio poem.
Editions by O Jahn (with Juvenal and Persius, revised by Franz Bücheler , 1893) and in E Bahrens, De Sulpiciae quae vocatur satira (1873); see also monograph by JC Boot (1868); R Ellis in Academy, (Dec. ii, 1869) and Journal of Philology (1874), vol. v.; O Ribbeck, Geschichte der romischen Dichtung (1892), vol. Hi.; HE Butler, Post-Augustan Poetry (1909), pp. 174-176; M Schanz, Geschichte del romischen Litteratur (1900), iii. 2; Teuffel, Hist. of Roman Literature (Eng. trans., 1900), p. 233, 6. There are English translations by L Evans in Bonn's Classical Library (prose, with Juvenal and Persius) and by J Grainger (verse, 1759).