By Hagith Sivan

Within the burgeoning box of past due classical antiquity the authors of past due Roman Gaul have served as a mine of data in regards to the historic, cultural, political, social and non secular advancements of the western empire, and of Gaul specifically. Ausonius is exceptional between those authors for the intense variety of fabric which his writings light up. His relatives exemplifies the increase of provincial upper-classes in Aquitania via expertise, ambition and opportunism. Fusing historic strategy with archaeological, inventive and literary facts, Hagith Sivan translates the political message of Ausonius' paintings and conveys the fabric truth of his way of life.

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Extra resources for Ausonius of Bordeaux: Genesis of a Gallic Aristocracy

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97 Also near Bordeaux was the estate of Ausonius’ fatherin-law, a distinguished member of the local municipal aristocracy. 98 He is just one example of the rapidity with 24 A LATE ROMAN GALLIC ARI STOCRACY which members of a new aristocracy could adopt and adapt to traditional aristocratic pursuits. Another Aquitanian, a fellow teacher of Ausonius in Bordeaux, has been associated with one of the largest villae so far excavated in the south-west. 99 The identification is based on the similarity between his name and that of the region.

81 The fact that Hilary had been an advocate and had held secular office before his election as bishop of his native city suggests that he belonged at least to a municipal aristocratic rank. Another Aquitanian, this time a migrating saint called Paulinus, became bishop of Trier in the middle of the fourth century. 83 Both vitae are very late (tenth century) but the connection between Aquitania and Trier seems authentic. 84 Victor, a civis of Marseille and a martyr under Maximianus, is another saintly hero of aristocratic background who lived in the early years of the fourth century ,85 He is called vir clarus, possibly a mistaken abbreviation for vir clarissimus, and his trial was referred directly to the Augustus.

Nymphius may have been a provincial patron or sacerdos provinciae, an office often associated with wealth and local standing; no other office is attested for him. Allowing for the impressionistic and fragile nature of documentary, hagiographical and archaeological evidence for prosopographical purposes, these isolated pieces of evidence point to the re-emergence of an aristocracy in Gaul in a period when the imperial court did not supply the means to acquire wealth and social rank. The roots of this nascent aristocracy may partially be found in the economic recovery experienced by regions like Narbonensis and Aquitania after the Gallic empire.

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