Monday, January 17, 2005

Ausonius Revisited

i was looking through michael von albrecht's survey of the history of roman literature this evening and found some very unflattering things he had to say about our grammarian friend ausonius, such as:

'Book 16' is the Griphus ternarii numeri, and 'book 17' the Cento nuptialis, an unholy montage out of shredded sentences of the chaste Virgil...(vol.2, 1322).


Just as Lucilius had once done, Ausonius mixed Latin and Greek elements to produce a hybrid poetry. This practice, an affront to both languages, seems to be typical of semiliterate epochs. Particularly striking is the slipshod prosody in many Greek words; he is not especially competent in this language. Even in Latin he shortens the a in contra (vol.2, 1324).

on the other hand, von albrecht also points out that his epigrams 'do betray considerable linguistic awareness' (1324).
finally, the following passage on ausonius' outlook perhaps causes one to think of pliny the younger:

The most important witness to Ausonius' view of his task as an author is the all-embracing character of his collection of poems. To this poet everything seems worth immortalizing: his family, the professors at Bordeaux, and much more. As in the case of Luciliusone is tempted to say that the old gentleman's life lies before us as on a votive tablet. Like some early Latin authors do, Ausonius leaves us with the impression that the personality of the author is more significant than his modest and often incidental verse....In the jumble of seemingly unimportant matters, the reader is conscious of an individual attempting to become a mirror of the world (1325-26).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Even in Latin he shortens the a in contra...

In early Latin (cf. Plautus) contra is found with a short 'a'