The Christening of Philology in the Late Roman West
The present volume describes the rich and complex world in which Ausonius (c. 310–395) lived and worked, from his humble beginnings as a schoolteacher in Bordeaux, to the heights of his influence as quaestor to the Emperor Gratian, at a time of unsettling social and religious change. As a teacher and poet Ausonius adhered to the traditions of classical paideia, standing in contrast to the Fathers of the Church, e.g., Jerome, Augustine, and Paulinus of Nola, who were emboldened by the legalization, then the imposition, of Christianity in the course of the fourth century. For this position he was labeled by the 20th-century scholar Henri-Irénée Marrou a symbol of decadence. Guided by Marrou’s critical insights to both his own time and place and that of Ausonius, this book proposes a hermeneutic for reading Ausonius as both a fourth-century poet and a fascinating mirror for his 20th-century counterparts.