Maturam frugem flore manente ferens: Ausonius’ praise of old age


Abstract

Decimus Ausonius Magnus (ca 310-394) was a rhetorician, a teacher, a tutor of young Gratian and a highly-ranked, influential official, as well as one of the most famous poets of the late Roman Empire. In his poems, he frequently described the small world he belonged to, the daily routine of his own, of his relatives, professional colleagues and friends. As the poet reached his old age, he made it a subject of his poetry. Ausonius considers old age to be a blessing, a time which permits a wise, generous person to gather fruit of his good deeds and fulfilled duties, to watch children and grandchildren grow and achieve successes, to share one’s wisdom with younger persons. Ausonius shows his grandfather and his grand­mother, his aunts, but first of all his father, Ausonius senior, as the examples of happy old persons, loving and loved, respected and needed by the people who surrounded them. He notices that old persons can be joyful, healthy and beautiful. Writing about old age, he mentions illness only once, while expressing his joy of having recovered and being able to send greetings to the grandson who celebrates his birthday. In spite of his age, Ausonius still loves his wife Sabina, who died many years before, the same way as he loved her when he was a young husband. He is deeply attached to Bissula, the charming German girl cap­tured and given to him by the Emperor Valentinian I probably circa 368. Besides, he really enjoys spending time with his friends and with the Muses. In his epigrams, most of which don’t have personal, but rather literary character, the poet translates, quotes, paraphrases and imitates Greek and Latin epigrams which deal with the theme of old age. Although in Ausonius’ poems exists an obvious resemblance to their models, he grants himself much freedom in his remouldings. Not only he alters circumstantial details, expands or abbrevi­ates the original, bur also uses them as mere starting points of his reflexion. It becomes more important for him to ponder over quickly passing youth or over a lover’s feelings towards a woman who rejected him when she was young, but whom he still admires, than to play a literary game. Ausonius never parodies nor even portrays women trying to attire men in their old age, even though he may mock old men pretending to look younger than they are. Neither he complains about pains and sorrows of old age. In all that, he remains a true Roman and a true gentleman.


Keywords

Ausonius; old age

Albrecht M. von, A History of Roman literature from Livius Andronicus to Boethius, Leiden 1997
André J., Lexique des termes de botanique en latin, Paris 1956
Cytowska M. – Szelest H., Historia literatury łacińskiej. Okres cesarstwa, Warszawa 1992
Decimus Magnus Ausonius, Parentalia. Introduzione, testo, traduzione e commento a cura di M. Lolli, Bruxelles 1997
Duval P.M., Życie codzienne w Galii w okresie pokoju rzymskiego (I-III w. n. e.), tłum. E. Bąkowska, Warszawa 1967
Ennius apud Ciceronem, Cato Maior de senectute
Gasparova M., Aвcoний, Cтиxoтвopeния, Mocквa 1993
Green R.P.H., Commentary, w: The works of Ausonius, Oxford 1991
Juvenalis, Epigrammata
Kay N.M., Introduction, w: Ausonius, Epigrams, London 2001
Komornicka A.M., Echa staroattyckiej komedii w epigramatach satyrycznych „Antologii Palatyńskiej”, w: Epigram grecki i łaciński w kul¬turze Europy, red. K. Bartol – J. Danielewicz, Poznań 1997
Krynicka T., Auzoniuszowe „Parentalia”: charakter i kompozycja zbiorku, VoxP 28 (2008) t. 52/1, 549-561
Krynicka T., Sylwetki kobiet w zbiorku „Parentalia” Decymusa Magnusa Auzoniusza, RH 58 (2010/2011) z. 3
Krynicka T., Świat roślin w XVII księdze „Etymologii” Izydora z Sewilli, Lublin 2007
Lattimore R., Themes in Greek and Latin Epigraphs, Urbana 1962
Mynors R., Virgil, Oxford 1994
Opere di Decimo Magno Ausonio, a cura di A. Pastorino, Torino 1971
Otto A., Die Sprichwörtlichen Redensarten der Römer, Hildesheim 1965
Ovidius, Ars amatoria
Pastorino A., Nota biografica, w: Opere di Decimo Magno Ausonio, a cura di A. Pastorino, Torino 1971
Paulinus, Epistula
Plezia M., Słownik łacińsko-polski, I, Warszawa 1998
Podbielkowski Z., Słownik roślin użytkowych, Warszawa 1985
Praefatio III, id est Epistula Theodosi Augusti, w: Ausonius, Opuscula, ed. S. Prete, Lipsiae 1978
Prudencjusz, Wieńce męczeńskie (Peristephanon). Przedsłowie, Epilog, tłum. M. Brożek, wstęp i oprac. M. Starowieyski, Kraków 2006
Shackleton Bailey D.R., Ausoniana, „American Journal of Philology” 97 (1976) 248-261
Skwara E., Terencjusz, Za karę, w: Terencjusz, Komedie, t. 1, Warszawa 2005
Syme R., Ammianus and the Historia Augusta, Oxford 1968
Symmachus, Epistula
Szelest H., Marcjalis i jego twórczość, Wrocław 1963
Wolski J., Historia powszechna, t. 1: Starożytność, Warszawa 1996

Published : 2011-12-15


Krynicka, T. (2011). Maturam frugem flore manente ferens: Ausonius’ praise of old age. Vox Patrum, 56, 169-183. https://doi.org/10.31743/vp.4214

Tatiana Krynicka 
Uniwersytet Gdański  Poland




Most read articles by the same author(s)

1 2 > >>