Ausonius, Decimus Magnus

, an eminent poet of the fourth century, was the son of a physician, and born at Itourdeaux. Great care was taken of his eJucation, the whole family interesting themselves in it, either because his genius was very promising, or that the scheme of his nativity, which had been cast by his grandfather on the mother’s side, led them to imagine that he would rise to great honour. Whatever their motive, it is allowed that he made an uncommon progress in classical learning, and at the age of thirty was chosen to teach grammar at Bourdeaux, He was promoted some time after to be professor of rhetoric, in which office he acquired so great a reputation, that he ivas sent for to court to be preceptor to Gratian the emperor Valentinian’s son. The rewards and honours conferred on him for the faithful discharge of his office remind us of Juvenal’s maxim, that when fortune pleases she can liaise a man from a rhetorician to a consul. He was actually appointed consul by the emperor Gratian, in the year 379, after having filled other considerable posts; for, besides the dignity of questor, to which he had been nominated by Valentinian, he was made prefect of the pnetorium in Italy and Gaul after that prince’s death. His speech returning thanks to Gratian on his promotion to the consulship is highly commended. The time of his death is uncertain he was living in 392, and lived to a great age. He hud several children by his wife, who died young. The emperor Thcodosius had a great esteem for Ausonius, and pressed him to publish his poems. There is a great inequality in his productions; and in his style there is a harshness, which was perhaps rather the defect of the times | Le lived in, than of his genius. Had he lived in Augustus’s reign, his verses, according to good judges, would have equalled the most finished of that age. He is generally supposed to have been a Christian some ingenious authors indeed have thought otherwise, and the indecency of many of his poems make us not very anxious to claim him. The editio princeps of his works was published at Venice, 1472, fol. of which there are four copies in this country, in the libraries of his majesty, the museum, earl Spencer, and Mr. Wodhull. De Bure was not able to find one in France. The two best editions, the first yery uncommon, are those of Amsterdam, 1671, 8yo, and Bipont, 1785, 8vo. 1

1 Gen. Dict. —Moreri. Cave, vol. Jr —Saxii Onomasticon. Dibdin’s Clasics,