The Info List - Avienus

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AVIENUS was a Latin writer of the 4th century AD. An inscription from Bulla Regia
Bulla Regia
I modern-day Tunisia reports his full name as "POSTUMIUS RUFIUS FESTUS who is also AVIENIUS". He was a native of Volsinii
in Etruria
, 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 this Avienus.

Famously asked what he did in the country, he answered _Prandeo, poto, cano, ludo, lavo, caeno, quiesco_:

“ I dine, drink, sing, play, bathe, sup, rest. ”

Avienus made somewhat inexact translations into Latin of Aratus ' didactic poem _Phaenomena_. He 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 students, and translated it into an archaising Latin as his _Descriptio orbis terrae_ ("Description of the World's Lands"). Only Book I survives, with an unsteady grasp of actual geography and some far-fetched etymologies: see Ophiussa .


* 1 _Ora maritima_ * 2 Rufus Festus * 3 See also * 4 Editions * 5 Notes * 6 Further reading * 7 External links


Avienus wrote _Ora Maritima_ ("Sea Coasts"), a poem claimed to contain borrowings from the 6th-century BC _ Massiliote Periplus _. This poeticised _periplus _ resulted in a confused amateur's account of the coastal regions of the known world. 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 at the time abandoned (see Oestriminis ). More recent scholars have emended the too credulous reliance on Avienus' accuracy of his editor, the historian-archaeologist Adolf Schulten . Another ancient chief text cited by Avienus is the _ Periplus of Himilco _, the description of a Punic
expedition through the coasts of western Europe which took place at the same time of the circumnavigation of Africa by Hanno (c. 500 BC).

_Ora Maritima_ includes reference to the islands of _Ierne_ and _ Albion
_, Ireland
and Britain , whose inhabitants reputedly traded with the Oestrymnides of Brittany
. The work was dedicated to Sextus Claudius Petronius Probus .

The whole text derives from a single manuscript source, used for the _editio princeps_ published at Venice
in 1488.


This Avienus may be identical with the Rufus Festus who wrote, _ca._ 369, an epitome of Roman history in the genre called _breviarium:_

The scholar Theodor Mommsen
Theodor 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.


* Ophiussa * Thule
* Pytheas
* Oestriminis * Ligures


* 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)

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. 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 * L. Willms _Übersetzung, philologischer Kommentar und vergleichende Interpretation des Tierkreises in Aviens Phaenomena (Verse 1014 – 1325)_ AKAN-Einzelschriften – Antike Naturwissenschaften und ihre Rezeption, vol. 8. Trier WVT 2014 * P. van de Woestijne: _De vroegste uitgaven van Avienus' Descriptio orbis terrae (1488-1515)_. 1959 * H. Zehnacker: _D'Aratos à Aviénus: Astronomie et idéologie_. Illinois Classical Studies 44 (1989), S. 317-329


* ^ As recorded in a poem once erroneou