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 AD. According to an inscription from Bulla Regia, his full name was Postumius Rufius Festus (qui et) 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.[1]

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 descriptio orbis terrae . Only Book I survives, with an unsteady grasp of actual geography and some far-fetched etymologies: see Ophiussa.


Ora maritima

Avienus wrote Ora Maritima ("Sea coasts"), a poem containing borrowings from the early 6th century BC Massiliote Periplus.[2][3] 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[4] (see Oestriminis). More recent scholars have emended the too credulous reliance on Avienus' accuracy of his editor, the historian-archaeologist Adolf Schulten.[5] 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 circummnavigation of Africa by Hanno (c. 500 BC).[6]

Ora Maritima includes reference to the islands of Ierne and Albion, Ireland and Britain, whose inhabitants reputedly traded with the Oestrymnides of Brittany.[3] 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.[7]

Ruf[i]us 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.

See also

Further reading

  • Alan Cameron, "Macrobius, Avienus, and Avianus" The Classical Quarterly New Series, 17.2 (November 1967), pp 385–399.


Commentaries, monographs and articles


  1. ^ As recorded in a poem once erroneously attributed to him; English translation by Richard Lovelace.
  2. ^ Donnchadh Ó Corráin Chapter 1 "Prehistoric and Early Christian Ireland", in The Oxford Illustrated History of Ireland, R.L. Foster, ed. (Oxford University Press) 2000 ISBN 0192893238
  3. ^ a b "Avienus, Rufus Festus" The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Archaeology, Timothy Darvil, ed.. (Oxford University Press) 2002
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ Schulten, Avienus, (Barcelona/Berlin) 1922.
  6. ^ ...sicut ad extera Europae noscenda missus eodem tempore Himilco. Toer, H. F. (2008). A History of Ancient Geography. Read Books, p. 109. ISBN 1443724920
  7. ^ Avienus, Rufius Festus and Murphy, J. P. (1977) Ora maritima: or, description of the seacoast from Brittany round to Massilia. Ares Publishers, p. 100. ISBN 0890051755

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Aviēnus — Aviēnus, Festus Rufus, römischer Dichter im 4. Jahrh. n.Chr., Proconsul in Griechenland. Er schr.: Metaphrasis Arati, Metaphrasis periegeseos Dionysii, in Hexametern, u. ein Fragment der Ora maritima (eine Beschreibung der Seeküste von Cadix bis… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Aviēnus — Aviēnus, Rufius Festus, röm. Dichter aus der zweiten Hälfte des 4. Jahrh. n. Chr., aus Volsinii (Bolsena), ein gelehrter und hochgestellter Mann, zweimal Prokonsul. Wir besitzen von ihm freie Bearbeitungen der »Phaenomena« des Aratos (hrsg. von… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Avienus — Avienus,   Ruf(i)us Festus, lateinischer Dichter des späten 4. Jahrhunderts n. Chr. Von ihm sind freie poetische Bearbeitungen verschiedener griechischen Lehrgedichte erhalten, so ein astronomisches nach Arat und zwei geographische: eine… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • AVIENUS — Consul, tempore Valentiniani Imperatoris …   Hofmann J. Lexicon universale

  • Avienus — Postumius Rufius Festus Avienus war ein lateinischer Dichter der 2.Hälfte des 4. Jahrhunderts n. Chr aus Volsinii (heute Bolsena). Inhaltsverzeichnis 1 Leben 2 Werke 3 Literatur 3.1 Texte un …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Aviénus — Rufus Festus Avienus Rufus Festus Avienus est un haut fonctionnaire et poète latin de la fin du IVe siècle, né à Volsinii (Bolsène) en Étrurie, sous Théodose Ier. En favorisant la conservation et la diffusion des textes et traditions… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Avienus —  Ne doit pas être confondu avec Avianus. Avienus ou Aviénus (Rufus Festus Avienus de son nom complet) est un haut fonctionnaire et poète latin de la fin du IVe siècle, né à Volsinii (Bolsène) en Étrurie, sous Théodose Ier. Il favorise… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Avienus, Festus Rufus — Avienus, Festus Rufus, röm. Geograph im 4. Jahrh. n. Chr.; von ihm besitzen wir eine in Versen abgefaßte »Beschreibung des Erdkreises« und ein Bruchstück der Beschreibung der Ost u. Südküste Spaniens …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon

  • AVIENUS Festus — Poeta, tempore Gratiani, ac Theodosii vixit, qui Aratum, et Dionysii περιήγηςιν carmine Latinô transtulit, ut et Livium. Servius in l. 10. Aen. Item Carmen Iambicum de Oris maritimis scripsit, ad Probum Consularem. Nec alium puto Avienum, quem… …   Hofmann J. Lexicon universale

  • AVIENUS Junior — Consul, Probicollega …   Hofmann J. Lexicon universale

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