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This page is about a Roman author whose cognomen was Avienus. For the Roman gens, see Aviena (gens).

Avienus was a Latin writer of the 4th century. His full name Postumius Rufius Festus (qui et) Avienius is mentioned on an inscription from Bulla Regia, but "Avienus" has become the usual form of reference.

He was a native of Volsinii in Etruria, a highly educated pagan from the distinguished family of the Rufii Festi. He was twice appointed consul (if an inscription published by the 17th-century antiquaries Jacob Spon and Raffaello Fabretti really refers to him).

Famously asked what he did in the country, in a poem (erroneously attributed to him) he answered Prandeo, poto, cano, ludo, lavo, caeno, quiesco ("I dine, drink, sing, play, bathe, sup, rest" in Richard Lovelace's translation).

He made somewhat inexact translations into Latin of Aratus' didactic poem Phaenomena.

Avienus also took a popular Greek poem in hexameters, Periegesis, briefly delimiting the habitable world from the perspective of Alexandria, written by Dionysius Periegetes in a terse and elegant style that was easy to memorize for Roman students, and translated it into an archaising Latin, as descriptio orbis terrae . Only Book I survives, with an unsteady grasp of actual geography and some far-fetched etymologies: see Ophiussa.

Contents

Ora maritima

Avienus wrote Ora Maritima ("sea coasts"), a poem containing borrowings from the early 6thC Massiliote Periplus.[1] [2] This resulted in a confused amateur's account of the coastal regions of the Mediterranean. His editor A. Berthelot demonstrated that Avienus' land-measurements were derived from Roman itineraries but inverted some sequences. Berthelot remarked of some names on the Hispanic coast "The omission of Emporium, contrasting strangely with the names of Tarragon and Barcelona, may characterize the method of Avienus, who searches archaic documents and mingles his searches of them with his impressions as an official of the fourth century A.D." (Barthelmy, Introduction). Ora maritima was a work for the reader rather than the traveller, where the fourth century present intrudes largely in the mention of cities now abandoned[3] (see Oestriminis).

The Ora Maritima includes reference to the islands of Ierne and Albion, Ireland and Britain, whose inhabitants reputedly traded with the Oestrymnides of Brittany.[2]

Rufius Festus

This Avienus is surely not identical with the Rufus (?) Festus who wrote, ca. 369, an epitome of Roman history in the genre called breviarium:
The scholar Theodore Mommsen identified that author with Rufius Festus, proconsul of Achaea in 366, and both with Rufus Festus Avienus. Others take him to be Festus of Tridentum, magister memoriae (secretary) to Valens and notoriously severe proconsul of the province of Asia, where he was sent to punish those implicated in the conspiracy of Theodorus. The work itself (Breviarium rerum gestarum populi Romani) is divided into two parts, one geographical, the other historical.
For further information see Alan Cameron, "Macrobius, Avienus, and Avianus" The Classical QuarterlyNew Series, 17.2 (November 1967), pp 385-399.

Notes

  1. ^ Donnchadh Ó Corráin Chapter 1 Prehistoric and Early Christian Ireland; The Oxford Illustrated History of Ireland Oxford University Press, 2000 (Editor Foster RL); ISBN 0192893238
  2. ^ a b "Avienus, Rufus Festus" The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Archaeology. Timothy Darvill. Oxford University Press, 2002
  3. ^ F.J. Gonzalez Ponce, Avieno y el Periplo (Ejica 1995) compares Avienus' literary archaising to Claudian, whose enumeration of German tribes loyal to Stilicho included many purely literary references of tribes that had long ceased to exist.

Editions

  • A. Berthelot: Ora maritima. Paris 1934. (text of reference)
  • J. P. Murphy: Ora maritima or Description of the seacoast. (Chicago) 1977.
  • J. Soubiran: Aviénus: Les Phénomènes d'Aratos. CUF, Paris 1981. (text of reference)
  • D. Stichtenoth: Ora maritima, lateinisch und deutsch. Darmstadt 1968. (the Latin text is that of the editio princeps of 1488 and is better not cited)
  • P. van de Woestijne: Descriptio orbis terrae. Brugge 1961. (text of reference)
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Commentaries, monographs and articles

  • F. Bellandi, E. Berti und M. Ciappi: "Iustissima Virgo": Il mito della Vergine in Germanico e in Avieno (saggio di commento a Germanico Arati Phaen. 96 - 139 e Avieno Arati Phaen. 273 - 352), Pisa 2001
  • A. Cameron (1995). "Avienus or Avienius?" (PDF). Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 108: 252–262. http://www.uni-koeln.de/phil-fak/ifa/zpe/downloads/1995/108pdf/108252.pdf. Retrieved 2006-12-13.  
  • Concordantia in Rufium Festum Avienum. Curavit Manfred WACHT. G. Olms Verlag 1995
  • M. Fiedler: Kommentar zu V. 367-746 von Aviens Neugestaltung der Phainomena Arats. Stuttgart Saur 2004
  • C. Ihlemann: De Avieni in vertendis Arateis arte et ratione. Diss. Göttingen 1909
  • H. Kühne: De arte grammatica Rufi Festi Avieni. Essen 1905
  • K. Smolak: Postumius Rufius Festus Avienus. In: Handbuch der lateinischen Literatur der Antike, hrsg. von R. Herzog und P. L. Schmidt, Fünfter Band. Restauration und Erneuerung. Die lateinische Literatur von 284 bis 374 n. Chr., München 1989, S. 320-327
  • D. Weber: Aviens Phaenomena, eine Arat-Bearbeitung aus der lateinischen Spätanike. Untersuchungen zu ausgewählten Partien. Dissertationen der Universität Wien 173, Wien 1986
  • P. van de Woestijne: De vroegste uitgaven van Avienus' Descriptio orbis terrae (1488-1515). 1959
  • H. Zehnacker: D'Aratos à Aviénus: Astronomie et idéologie. ICS 44 (1989), S. 317-329

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