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Still Waters Run Deep: A New Study of the Professores of Bordeaux

  • R. P. H. Green (a1)

Perhaps the most remarkable feature of the works in which Ausonius of Bordeaux and Libanius of Antioch, writing within a few years of each other, recall their long and varied careers is that there is so little resemblance between them; the impressions given by these experienced and successful teachers could hardly be more disparate. The reader of Ausonius finds in his Protrepticus (Ep. 22 Peiper) a familiar enough picture of the terrors of the schoolroom; his Professores offer at first sight a series of bland commemorations apparently deficient in the interesting information which might be expected from such an archive. Libanius' many volumes, on the other hand, compared where appropriate with the Vitae Sophistarum of Eunapius, present a situation which is well summarised by the following sentences from Walden's work The Universities of Ancient Greece (still valuable seventy-five years after its publication): ‘There was, among the sophists of the fourth century…little, if any, of that spirit of brotherhood… that usually exists in a community of scholars at the present day. Instead there were jealousy, spite and often unrelenting hatred’. This striking divergence between Ausonius and his Eastern counterparts is unlikely to reflect a basic difference between East and West, or between Latin- and Greek-speaking milieux; the complaints of Augustine about his problems in Africa and Rome warn against such a simple answer. When one adds the evidence provided seven centuries later by the Frenchman Peter Abelard, whose plaintive Historia Calamitatum — an account of the disasters he suffered, not those which he caused — is remarkably similar to the prickly self-justification of Libanius in its account of bitter scheming and almost military manoeuvres in the educational world, one is forced to consider whether the evidence of Ausonius is not a serious anomaly, and to seek an explanation.

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1 Although the edition of Schenkl C. (MGH Auctores Antiquissimi 5.2 [Berlin, 1883]) is the most convenient of those available, references in this article will be made to the edition of R. Peiper (Leipzig, 1886), whose numeration, followed by White H. G. Evelyn, Ausonius (Loeb, 1967), Jasinski M. (Ausone. Oeuvres en vers et en prose [Paris, 1934]) and, for the elegies, Prete S., Ausonius. Opuscula (Leipzig, 1978), will be more generally familiar. Schenkl includes the verse preface to the Professores in his numeration, the others do not.

2 Walden J. W. H., The Universities of Ancient Greece (London, 1912), 152.

3 Augustine, Conf. 5.8.14, 5.12.22.

4 Edited by Monfrin J. in Abelard, Historia Calamitatum (Paris, 1967) and by Muckle J. T., ‘Abelard's Letter of Consolation to a Friend (Historia Calamitatum)’, Mediaeval Studies 12 (1950), 163213.

5 See Libanius' Autobiography (Oration 1), ed. Norman A. F. (Oxford, 1965), xiv ff.

6 Prof. 16.3/4; Prof. Pref. 2/3.

7 Prof. 26.1; Prof. Pref. 6.

8 Prof. 5.35–8; see Chadwick H., Priscillian of Avila (Oxford, 1976), 132ff.

9 Prof. 17; see Booth A. D., ‘The Academic Career of Ausonius’, Phoenix 36 (1982), 331/2.

10 Jerome , Chron. sub annis 336, 353, 355; Sidonius , Ep. 5.10.3, 8.11.2.

11 Jullian C., Histoire de la Gaule (Paris, 19091926), 8.260 and, in general, Étienne R., Bordeaux Antique (Bordeaux, 1962); works of scholarship and pietas.

12 Lib. Or. 1.16, 1.62, 1.72.

13 Prosper, Chron. s.a. 385

14 Aus. Par. 15.5–8.

15 See p. 502.

16 Above, n. 9. Henceforth referred to as ‘Booth (1982)’; ‘Booth (1978)’ will indicate his previous article Notes on Ausonius' Professores’ in Phoenix 32 (1978), 235–49.

17 Haarhoff T. J., Schools of Gaul (Oxford, 1920), 115.

18 Bolgar R. R., The Classical Heritage and its Beneficiaries (Cambridge, 1973), 33.

19 Étienne (above, n. 11), 240, where Numerius is of course not a rhetor, but the governor; the semi-colon and the following comma should not have changed places. There is an awkwardness of expression also, in that ‘lui-même’ is one of Ausonius' five contemporaries.

20 Digest 27.1.6.

21 Cod. Theod. 14.9.3.

22 See Booth (1982), 334.

23 Pan. Lat. 9.17.4 Mynors (5 Galletier); discussed by Booth (1982), 334.

24 Cod. Theod. 13.3.11, with Bonner S. F., ‘The Edict of Gratian on the Remuneration of Teachers’, AJP 86 (1965), 113–37.

25 At about the same time Ausonius, writing as quaestor to Ursulus, a grammaticus of Trier, mentions one Harmonius, who evidently had some expertise in Greek (Ep. 13.26ff.).

26 Kaster R. A., ‘A Reconsideration of Gratian's School Law’, Hermes 112 (1984), 100–14. This appeared when my article was virtually complete.

27 Booth ([1978], 241 n. 20) believes that he taught not at Bordeaux but at Saintes, because of Ep. 10.1–4; but Ausonius may there be thinking of his own convenience (cf. Ep. 6.17ff.), not his friend's.

28 One of Ausonius' letters to Paulus was written c. 390 (see Ep. 5.40), and the whole series may date from this later period of his life.

29 For a demonstration that Alethius Minervius is the son of Tiberius Victor Minervius, see Booth (1978), 240ff.

30 Walden (above n. 2), 274 n. 3.

31 Booth's argumentation ([1982], 329 n. 4) would commend a slightly later date than the usual 310.

32 Prof. 5.35–8, with Chadwick (above, n. 8), 132–8.

33 ‘Envoi’ is of course a poor translation of poeta, the heading given to the poem in the manuscript. Poeta may be the interpolation of a scribe unaware that Ausonius was ending the series with a typical polymetric flourish.

34 See Booth (1982), 343 n. 42. Étienne (above n. 11), 251 ascribes him to Saintes, because Ausonius' letter is written from Saintonge; but Ausonius expected visitors (such as Paulus) to come there from a long distance, and may be hoping that Tetradius will find travel from Bordeaux (or near by) more inviting than travel from Angoulême.

35 For a discussion of the identity of the usurper supported by Delphidius, see Booth (1978), 237ff., and Green R. P. H., ‘Prosopographical Notes on the Family and Friends of Ausonius’, Bull. Inst. Class. Studs. 25 (1978), 23, who both reach the same conclusion. For Patera's longevity see Booth (1978), 240 n. 18.

36 See Booth (1982), 337.

37 Aurelius Victor, Caes. 14.3, and various places in the Historia Augusta, which are discussed by Braunert H., ‘Das Athenaeum zu Rom bei den Scriptores Historiae Augustae’ in Historia Augusta Colloquium 1963 (Antiquitas 4 Reihe, Beiträge zur Historia-Augusta Forschung II [Bonn, 1964]), 941.

38 Sid. Ep. 4.8.5, 9.9.13. Juvenal had used Athens in a similar way (15.110).

39 Cf. Green R. P. H., ‘The Correspondence of Ausonius’, L'Antiquité Classiqué 49 (1980), 200.

40 As suggested by R. P. H. Green (above, n. 35), 21; cf. Booth (1978), 248, and (1982), 331.

41 Scaliger, followed by Booth ([1982], 338 n. 32), emended discipulus to discipulo, but the gradation implied by ‘my pal when I was a boy (puer) and then when I was a pupil’ is unnatural. The present argument, based on the supposition that Glabrio was grammaticus relatively early, is not affected by this dispute.

42 Booth (1978), 240 n. 19. But it is surely unwise to assume that all rhetors found their greatest maturity at the same age. (Cf. Lib. Or. 1.51.)

43 Analysed by Hopkins M. K., ‘Social Mobility in the Later Roman Empire. The Evidence of Ausonius’, CQ n.s. 11 (1961), 239–49.

44 The arrangement mentioned in HA Hadrian 16.11 — a trustworthy item (cf. Syme R., Emperors and Biography [Oxford, 1971], 115) — was probably an exception to the rule.

45 This passage has some bearing on the question of Dionisotti A. C., ‘From Ausonius' Schooldays?… ’, JRS 72 (1982), 83125.

46 The cognomen is given as Beatus in V, the only MS, but Lascivus was almost certainly part of the name (lines 5ff.). Corruption is usually assumed, but has not been explained. Is Beatus perhaps a scribal euphemism, or a genuine part of the name?

47 Martial 1.76.14, Juvenal 7.203. See Booth , EMC 20 (1976), 8.

48 These are treated by Favez C., ‘Une école gallo-romaine au IVe siècle’, Latomus 7 (1948), 223–33, and Hatinguais J., ‘Les Vertus universitaires selon Ausone’, REA 55 (1953), 379–87.

49 For speculation about Delphidius and Julian see Booth (1978), 238; and n. 35 above.

50 Cf. Booth (1978), 236 n. 8.

51 But not elsewhere: cf. Ep. 31.261ff. (Paulinus' complaint).

52 In the following clause daret of course refers to the past, like armaret and attolleres in Prof. 5.22 and 24.

53 Caputo G., ‘Flavius Nepotianus. Comes et Praeses Provinciae Tripolitanae’, REA 53 (1951), 234–47.

54 Nazarius may have been a Christian, according to Barnes T. D., Constantine and Eusebius (Cambridge, Mass., 1981), 73, who bases this suggestion on the Christian sentiments noted by Liebeschuetz J. H. W. G., Continuity and Change in Roman Religion (Oxford, 1979), 289f. Ausonius certainly was: see now on this unnecessarily controversial matter Castorina E., ‘Lo spirito del cristianesimo in Ausonio’, Siculorum Gymnasium 29 (1976), 8591.

55 Booth ([1982], 337 n. 26) cites Lib. Or. 1.37, 101f., Aug. Conf. 5.12f.

56 Walden (above n. 2), 182ff., 187f.

57 For another account, see Booth (1982), 342 (where Valentinus is inadvertently called Victorinus).

58 There is a chronological problem here which Booth's reconstruction, giving Ausonius a short spell in the chair of rhetoric, did not incur. As an alternative to the account offered in the text, it may be suggested that in the reaction against Julian the chair which the Emperor had favoured was occupied by the rival faction, in the person of Tiberius, until his death or perhaps until Patera pleaded with him to make way for Delphidius. (In the words donatus aerumnis patris [Prof. 5.32] one can almost imagine the elderly Patera reminding Tiberius of the anguish that both of them had suffered from wayward sons.)

59 Marrou, 397.

60 Étienne (above, n. 11), 240; Dill S., Roman Society in the Last Century of the Western Empire (London, 1899), 409.

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