Magnus . The most remarkable Latin poet of the fourth century a.d.; born about 310 at Burdigala (Bordeaux). He was son of the private physician of
Valentinian I. and afterwards prefect of Illyria. Educated thoroughly in grammar, rhetoric,
and law, he practised as an advocate in his native city, where he afterwards became professor
of grammar and rhetoric. He was then invited by Valentinian to undertake the education of his
son Gratian, who, after he had ascended the throne, conferred upon him the consulship and
other distinctions. After the assassination of Gratian he retired to his estate near
Burdigala, where he continued to reside, in full literary activity, till 390. He became a
Christian, probably on accepting the office of tutor to the prince. Besides composing a
turgid address of thanks to Gratian, delivered at Trèves, Ausonius wrote a series
of poems, including verses in memory of deceased relatives (Parentalia
commemorating his colleagues (Commemoratio Professorum Burdigalensium), Epitaphia,
Eclogae, Epistulae, Epigrammata
, and a number of miscellaneous pieces, one of which
) is the narrative of a tour from Bingen on the Rhine to Berncastel
(Tabernae) on the Moselle, and then up the Moselle past Neumagen (Noviomagum) to
Trèves. Its subject has secured the poem some renown.
Ausonius is not a real poet, but he tries to make up for lack of genius by dexterity in
metre, by the manipulation of words, and by ornaments of learning and rhetoric. The
consequence is that his style is generally neither simple nor natural.
The editio princeps
of Ausonius was published in Venice (1472 foll.).
There are separate editions of the Mosella
by Böcking, with notes
; a variorum (Bonn, 1842)
, this with a German
translation; and by Schenkl (Berlin, 1883)
. There is an English translation by C.
T. Brooks, in Waring's Bride of the Rhine (Boston, 1878)
other poems may be found in the editions by Schenkl (Berlin, 1883)