Martha Marchina

Early Modern Era



Martha Marchina stands out as a working-class female Latinist. Her father, a soap-boiler by trade, had hopes of a better life for his sons through education. Martha learned her first Latin by helping her brothers with their schoolwork, and soon she was being taught formally as well, thanks to the support of the headmaster, Ludovico Santolino, and later her patron, Cardinal Spada. Looking at the larger scale, Martha was living in Rome during the Catholic Counter-Reformation (1545-1648). This deeply religious context is clearly seen within her poems, many of which honor saints. Her poems are rich and complex, but some are also very accessible for beginning learners of Latin because they are epigrams in the “versus rapportati” style, which are structured around word forms rather than meter.

Jane Stevenson, Women Latin Poets: Language, Gender, & Authority from Antiquity to the Eighteenth Century (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), 309-312.

Lesson Plan



Laura Petersen

Project Nota

Project Nota is a group dedicated to drawing attention to the Latin letters and works of famous women by focusing on the digitization of texts, translating these texts into English, Spanish, and French, and increasing their overall accessibility. Among us we have over 150 years of Latin experience including many years of teaching experience, seven advanced degrees, many publications in academic journals, and multiple positions in professional organizations.

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