The Ancient Library

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On this page: Aurelius Marcus – Aurelius Victor – Auriga – Aurora – Aurum Coronarium – Ausonius – Auspicia


science of medicine, in the form of a cate­chism (Mediclnales ResponsiOnes). Of this considerable fragments remain,

Aurelius, Marcus. See antoninus.

Aurelius Victor (Sextus). A Roman his­torian, born in Africa. He was probably governor of Pannonia under Julian in 361 a.d., and in 389 prefect of Rome. There is a history of the Caesars from Julius to Con-stantine, written about 360 a.d., which bears his name. This appears, however, to be no more than an extract from a more compre­hensive work. The same is the case with an Epitome, continued down to the death of Theodosius. There is also a short but not altogether worthless book, entitled De Virls Illustrlbus Urbis Roma;, which is at­tributed to Aurelius Victor. It begins with the Alban king Procas, and conies down to Cleopatra. It is not by Aurelius Victor, nor again is a little book which has been attributed to him, called Orlgo Gentis Romanov. This is full of forged quotations, and belongs to a much later period.

Aureus. A Roman coin of the imperial period, originally weighing T'n of a Roman pound, and worth from the time of Julius Caesar to Nero, 25 denarii, or 100 sestertii; from 23 to 20 shillings. (See coinage.)

Auriga. See cikcensian games.

Aurora. See Eos.

Aurum Coronarium. See corona.

Ausonius (Declmus Magnus). The most remarkable Latin poet of the 4th century A.D. ; born about 310 at Burdlgala (Bor­deaux). He was son of the private phy­sician of Valentinian I, and afterwards pre­fect of Illyria. Educated thoroughly in grammar, rhetoric, and law, he practised as an advocate in his native city, where he afterwards became professor of grammar and rhetoric. He was then invited by Valentinian to undertake the education of his son Oratian, who, after he had ascended the throne, conferred upon him the consulship and other distinctions. After the assassination of Gratian he retired to his estate near Burdigala, where he con-tinned to reside, in full literary activity, till 390. He became a Christian, probably on accepting the office of tutor to the prince. Besides composing a turgid address of thanks to Gratian, delivered at Treves, Ausonius wrote a series of poems, including verses in memory of deceased relatives (Parentalia), verses commemorating his colleagues (Commemoratio Professorum Burdigalensium), EpitapMa, Eclogce, Epi-stidcK, Epigrammtita, and a number of mis-

j cellaneous pieces, one of which (Mosella) is the narrative of a tour from Bingen on the Rhine to Berncastel (Tabernce) on the Moselle and then up the Moselle past Neu-magen (Novwrnayum) to Treves. Its sub­ject has secured the poem some renown.

Ausouius is not a real poet; but he tries to make up for lack of genius by dexterity in metre and the manipulation of words, and by ornaments of learning and rhetoric. The consequence is, that his style is gener­ally neither simple nor natural.

Ausplcla (" observations of birds "). In its proper sense the word means the watching of signs given by birds. But it was also applied to other signs, the observa­tion of which was not intended to obtain answers about future events, but only to ascertain whether a particular proceeding was or was not acceptable to the deity concerned. It must be remembered that, according to Roman ideas. Jupiter gave men signs of his approval or disapproval in every undertaking; signs which qualified persons could read and understand. Any private individual was free to ask for, and to interpret, such signs for his own needs. But to ask for signs on behalf of the State was only allowed to the representatives of the community. The auspivia publlca p&puli Romdni, or system of public aus-picia, were under the superintendence of the college of augurs. (See augur.) This body alone possessed the traditional know­ledge of the ceremonial, and held the key to the correct interpretation of the signs. The signs from heaven might be asked for, or they might present themselves unasked. They fell into five classes: (1) Signs given by birds (signa ex avlbus). These, as the name auspicia shows, were originally the commonest sort, but had become obsolete as early as the 1st century b.c. (For the ceremonial connected with them, see augur.) (2) Signs in the sky (ex fcelo). The most important and decisive were thunder and lightning. Lightning was a favourable omen if it appeared to the left of the augur, and flashed to the right; unfavourable, if it flashed from right to left. (See augcr.) In certain cases, as, for example, that of the assembling of the comltia, a storm was taken as an absolute prohibition of the meeting. (3) Signs from the behaviour of

i chickens while eating It was a good omen if the chicken rushed eagerly out of its cage at its food and dropped a bit out of its beak; an unfavourable omen if it was unwilling,

I or refused altogether, to leave its cage, or

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All non-public domain material, including introductions, markup, and OCR © 2005 Tim Spalding.