Ausonius

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Decimius Magnus Ausonius (ca. 310–395) was a Latin poet and rhetorician, born at Burdigala (Bordeaux).

Contents

Biography

Decimius Magnus Ausonius was born in Bordeaux in ca. 310. His father was a noted physician of Greek ancestry [1][2] and his mother was descended on both sides from long-established aristocratic Gallo-Roman families of southwestern Gaul [2]. Ausonius was given a strict upbringing by his aunt and grandmother, both named Aemilia. He received an excellent education, especially in grammar and rhetoric, but professed that his progress in Greek was unsatisfactory. Having completed his studies, he trained for some time as an advocate, but he preferred teaching. In 334, he established a school of rhetoric in Bordeaux, which was very popular. His most famous pupil was St. Paulinus of Nola, who later became Bishop of Nola.

After thirty years of this work, he was summoned by Valentinian to the imperial court to teach Gratian, the heir-apparent. The prince greatly respected his tutor, and after his accession bestowed on him the highest titles and honours that any Roman (besides from the royal family) could attain, culminating in the consulate in 379. Ausonius also took part in a military campaign against the Alamanni, in 375, and then later he received the Suebian slave girl Bissula as his part of the booty; he later addressed a poem to her.

After the murder of Gratian in 383, Ausonius retired to his estates near Burdigala (now Bordeaux) in Gaul. These supposedly included the land now owned by Château Ausone, which takes its name from him. He appears to have been a late and perhaps not very enthusiastic convert to Christianity. He died about 395.

Works

  • Epigramata de diversis rebus. About 120 epigrams on various topics.
  • Ephemeris. A description of the occupations of the day from morning till evening, in various meters, composed before 367. Only the beginning and end are preserved.
  • Parentalia. 30 poems of various lengths, mostly in elegiac meter, on deceased relations, composed after his consulate, when he had already been a widower for 36 years.
  • Commemoratio professorum Burdigalensium or Professores. A continuation of the Parentalia, dealing with the famous teachers of his native Bourdeaux whom he had known.
  • Epitaphia. 26 epitaphs of heroes from the Trojan war, translated from Greek
  • Caesares. On the 12 emperors described by Suetonius.
  • Ordo urbium nobilium. 14 pieces, dealing with 17 towns (Rome to Burdigala), in hexameters, and composed after the downfall of Maximus in 388.
  • Ludus VII Sapientium.[3] A kind of puppet play in which the seven wise men appear successively and have their say.
  • The so-called Idyllia. 20 pieces are grouped under this arbitrary title, the most famous of which is the
    • Mosella.[4] It also includes
    • Griphus ternarii numeri
    • De aetatibus Hesiodon
    • Monosticha de aerumnis Herculis
    • De ambiguitate eligendae vitae
    • De viro bono
    • EST et NON
    • De rosis nascentibus (dubious)
    • Versus paschales
    • Epicedion in patrem
    • Technopaegnion
    • Cento nuptialis, composed of lines and half-lines of Vergil.
    • Bissula
    • Protrepticus
    • Genethliacon
  • Eglogarum liber. A collection of all kinds of astronomical and astrological versifications in epic and elegiac meter.
  • Epistolarum liber. 25 verse letters in various meters.
  • Ad Gratianum gratiarum actio pro consulatu. Speech of thanks to the emperor Gratian on the occasion of attaining the consulship, delivered at Treves in 379.
  • Periochae Homeri Iliadis et Odyssiae. A prose summary of Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, attributed to but probably not written by Ausonius.
  • Praefatiunculae. Prefaces by the poet to various collections of his poems, including a response to the emperor Theodosius I's request for his poems.

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