Ausonius of Bordeaux, poet, politician and connoisseur, enjoyed a long and remarkable career. After thirty years as an academic in Bordeaux, he moved to the imperial capital of Trier to serve as tutor to Gratian, heir to the throne of the Western Roman Empire. When his pupil became emperor unexpectedly, Ausonius, his family and friends made full use of the opportunities which the moment presented.
In "Ausonius of Bordeaux," Ausonius' life and work are contextualized in terms of his local and family background in fourth-century Gaul. His biography and literary output also serve as the point of departure for an overall inquiry into the formation of late Roman Gallic aristocracy.
At its start, the book examines social mobility in late Roman Gaul--of which Ausonius serves as an outstanding example. Evidence for Gallic wealth, social rank and office-holdings shows how crucial Ausonius' role was in the genesis of a Gallic aristocracy.
Talent, ambition and opportunism carried Ausonius' family from rags to riches. When Ausonius reached the imperial court in the late 360s, he was ready to reap the fruits of three generations of provincial ascent. Between 375 and 380, the Western Roman Empire became Ausonius' domain. A legislator, chief administrator and consul, his star waned when the imperial court moved to Italy. When his imperial patron was assassinated, Ausonius retired in peace to Bordeaux. He died there, well over eighty, living in the lap of luxury.