previous next


whose works are included in the collection which commonly bears the title " Duodecim Panegyrici Veteres" [DREPANIUS], was a native of Autun, but a Greek by extraction; for his grandfather was an Athenian, who acquired celebrity at Rome as a teacher of rhetoric, and having subsequently removed to Gaul, practised his profession until past the age of eighty, in the city where his grandson, pupil, and successor, was born. Eumenius flourished towards the close of the third and at the beginning of the fourth centuries, and attained to such high reputation that he was appointed to the office of magister sacrae memoriae, a sort of private secretary, in the court of Constantius Chlorus, by whom he was warmly esteemed and loaded with favours. The precise period of his death, as of his birth, is unknown, but we gather from his writings that he had, at all events, passed the prime of life. The city of Cleves at one period claimed him as their townsman, and set up an ancient statue, which they declared to be his effigy.


The pieces generally ascribed to this author are the following.


Gaul had suffered fearfully from the oppression of its rulers, from civil discord, and from the incursions of barbarian foes, for half a century before the accession of Diocletian. During the reign of the second Claudius, Autun in particular, after sustaining a siege of seven months, was compelled to surrender to the half-savage Bagaydae, by whom it was almost reduced to ruins. Constantius Chlorus having resolved to restore not only the buildings of the city, but also to revive its famous school of rhetoric, called upon Eumenius, who, it would seem, had by this time retired from public life and was enjoying his dignities, to undertake the superintendance of the new seminary, allowing him, however, to retain his post at court, and at the same time doubling his salary, which thus amounted to the large sum of 600,000 sesterces, or about 5000l. per annum. The principal, before entering on his duties, delivered (A. D. 296 or 297) the oration now before us, in the presenee of the praeses of Gallia Lugdunensis, in order that he might publicly acknowledge the liberality of the prince, might explain his own views as to the manner in which the objects in view could best be accomplished, and might declare his intention of carrying these plans into effect without any tax upon the public, by devoting one-half of his allowance to the support of the establishment. We find included (100.14) an interesting letter addressed by Constantius to Eumenius.


A congratulatory address upon the recovery of Britain, delivered towards the close of A. D. 296, or the beginning of 297. [ALLECTUS; CARAUSIUS.]


This was pronounced at Treves, A. D. 310, on the birth-day of the city, in the presence of Constantine, containing an outline of the career of the emperor, in which all his deeds are magniied in most outrageous hyperboles. Heyne is unwilling to believe that Eumenius is the author of this declamation, which he considers altogether out of character with the moderation and good taste displayed in his other compositions. The chief evidence consists in certain expressions contained in chapters 22 and 23, where the speaker represents himself as a native of Autun, and, in the language of a man advanced in years, recommends to the patronage of the sovereign his five sons, one of whom is spoken of as discharging the duties of an office in the treasury.


The city of Autun having experienced the liberality of Constantine, who in consideration of their recent misfortunes had relieved the inhabitants from a heavy load of taxation, assumed in honour of its patron the appellation of Flavia, and deputed Eumenius to convey to the prince expressions of gratitude. This address was spoken at Treves in the year A. D. 311.


For information with regard to the general merits and the editions of Eumenius and the other panegyrists, see DREPANIUS.


hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
296 AD (2)
311 AD (1)
310 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: