son of the poet Ausonius by his wife Attusia Lucana Sabina. We have no data for fixing the year of his birth.
He lost his mother while he was young; but his education was carefully superintended by his father, who wrote "Fasti," for the use of his son, and inscribed to him his metrical catalogue of the Caesars. Hesperius received, probably from the emperor Gratian, who was his father's pupil, the proconsulship of Africa, which he held A. D. 376, and perhaps later.
He was one of the persons appointed to inquire into the malpractices of Count Romanus and his accomplices, and executed the task with equity, in conjunction with Flavianus, vicarius of the province. [FLAVIANUS, No. 5.] He afterwards held the praetorian praefecture in conjunction (as we judge from some expressions of Ausonius) with his father. Valesius thinks they were joint praefecti praetorio Galliarum; Gothofred, that they were joint P. P. of the whole western empire (comprehending the praefectures of Gaul, Italy, and Illyrium), but that Ausonius usually resided in Gaul, and Hesperius in Italy.
There are extant several letters of Symmachus addressed to Hesperius; and from one of these (lib. i. ep. 80) he appears to have been at Mediolanum (Milan), the usual seat of the P. P. of Italy, but it is not clear that the letter was addressed to him while he was praefect. Tillemont, who discusses the question in a careful, but unsatisfactory note, thinks that Ausonius first held the praefecture of Italy alone, and afterwards that of Gaul, in conjunction with Hesperius. In A. D. 384, a Count Hesperius (apparently the son of Ausonius), was sent by the emperor Valentinian H. on a mission to Rome, which he was enabled to see, and bear witness to the innocence of his friend Symmachus, who, through some unjust accusations, had incurred discredit at court. Nothing is known of him after this.
Hesperius had at least three sons. One of them, Paulinus, distinguished as "the Penitent," author of a poem called Eucharisticon
or Carmen Eucharisticum de Vita sua
(sometimes ascribed, but incorrectly, to the better known Paulinus of Nola), was born in Macedonia about A. D. 375 or 376, before his father's proconsulship of Africa, which renders it not unlikely that Hesperius then held some office under the Eastern emperor Valens. Another son, Pastor, died young, and is commemorated in the Parentalia
of Ausonius. (Amm. Marc. 28.6
; Symmach. Epist.
1.69-82, ed. Paris, 1604; Auson. Epigram.
p. 79, ed. Vineti, Caesares Duodecim, Eidyll.
xi., Gratiar. Actio pro Cons.
p. 377,378, ed. Vineti; Cod. Theod. 6. tit. 30.4; 7. tit. 18.2; 8 tit. 5.34; tit. 18.6; 10. tit. 20.10; 13. tit. 1.11; tit. 5.15; 15. tit. 7.3; 16. tit. 5.4, 5; Gothofred, Prosop. Cod. Theodos. ;
Tillemont, Hist. des Emp.