Ausonius of Bordeaux: Genesis of a Gallic Aristocracy

Ausonius of Bordeaux: Genesis of a Gallic Aristocracy

Ausonius of Bordeaux: Genesis of a Gallic Aristocracy

Ausonius of Bordeaux: Genesis of a Gallic Aristocracy


In the burgeoning field of late classical antiquity the authors of late Roman Gaul have served as a mine of information regarding the historical, cultural, political, social and religious developments of the western empire, and of Gaul in particular. Ausonius is outstanding among these authors for the extraordinary range of material which his writings illuminate. His family exemplifies the rise of provincial upper-classes in Aquitania through talent, ambition and opportunism.Fusing historical method with archaeological, artistic and literary evidence, Hagith Sivan interprets the political message of Ausonius' work and conveys the material reality of his lifestyle.


This book marks the end of a four-year-long relationship with a remarkable man. In hindsight, our time spent together has been enjoyable despite some tedious moments. One great advantage was our shared appreciation of the French landscape and its wine. I am indebted not only to Ausonius for leading me to Bordeaux, but also to my hosts at the Maison des Pays Ibériques on the campus of the university of Bordeaux III.

In pursuing Ausonius I have had some memorable adventures. One occurred at Eastertime in 1987 after descending into the wellconcealed crypt of St Paul's church at Narbonne in the congenial company of Yves Solier, the municipal archaeologist. On our emerging, covered with the dust of centuries, an innocent believer at the church was so startled that she imagined herself to be a modernday witness to the resurrection.

That same Easter I was offered the kind hospitality of the monastic community at Lagrasse near Narbonne. I attended their all-night Byzantine-style services on Holy Saturday and nodded off while holding a candle, thus burning my trousers.

As a student, I was privileged to study in Aix-en-Provence where the late Paul-Albert Février revealed to me the world of late Roman urbanism. In Marseille, Daniel Bardy and the Centre de Vie et d'Arts have always proved kind and entertaining hosts; in Montpellier, Mlle Demougeot allowed me to 'talk Ausonius' over an excellent meal.

At Bordeaux, Jean-Pierre Bost bore all my questions with unending patience. He also introduced me to much new archaeological material. Our journey to Plassac, a site of a late Roman villa which he has been excavating, showed me that archaeological forays, at least in France, can be great fun. I came back not only with a better

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