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Ausonius, Decīmus

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), verses commemorating his colleagues (Commemoratio Professorum Burdigalensium), Epitaphia, Eclogae, Epistulae, Epigrammata, and a number of miscellaneous pieces, one of which (Mosella) 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 (Berlin, 1828); 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). The other poems may be found in the editions by Schenkl (Berlin, 1883) and Peiper (Leipzig, 1886).

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