Guide Ausonius of Bordeaux: Genesis of a Gallic Aristocracy

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Ausonius of Bordeaux

Piety and pilgrimage in the age of Gratian Sivan, Hagith S. Palestine in late antiquity Sivan, Hagith S. Jewish childhood in the Roman Galilee: Sabbath in Tiberias c. Daughters as Disasters?

From Athanaric to Ataulf. Bordeaux Sivan, Hagith S. Forging a new identity: the kingdom of Toulouse and the frontiers of Visigothic Aquitania This assumption rests on a single line of a long Latin poem, the Parentalia, written by her nephew, Decimus Magnus Ausonius, the Gallo-Roman senator and tutor to the emperor Gratian: more virum medicis artibus experiens "You were skilled in the medical arts in the fashion of men".

There is ample evidence for midwives in the Roman Empire at this period, and medical writings were available to women, but, as noted by Gillian Clark, the phrase "according to the fashion of men" "may suggest a full-time commitment. Everything we know about Aemilia Hilaria and her family derives from the Parentalia. It appears that she was born in the small city of Aquae Tarbellicae modern Dax early in the 4th century, a time when the provinces in Gaul were recovering from barbarian invasions and local revolts against imperial authority.

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Her father's family, partly descended from the native Celtic Aeduan aristocracy, had emigrated there from central Gaul perhaps around Her mother came from the local municipal aristocracy, although Ausonius points out that they were poor. Aemilia had one brother, Aemilius Magnus Arborius, who became a tutor to an unnamed son of the emperor Constantius, and two sisters: Aemilia Dryadia, who died in infancy, and Aemilia Aeonia , the mother of Ausonius.

Hagith Sivan in her Ausonius of Bordeaux: Genesis of a Gallic Aristocracy points out that Aemilia Hilaria and her siblings all took the nomen, or family name, of their mother, contrary to the usual practice of the times.

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According to Parentalia 5, Aemilia Hilaria was given the male nickname Hilarus while she was still an infant because she was "affable like a boy" comis pueri ad effigiem. 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. In pursuing Ausonius I have had some memorable adventures.

One occurred at Eastertime in 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.

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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.

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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.