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date: 06 December 2022



  • J. H. D. Scourfield


Avianus or Avienus (the MSS give both forms), Roman fabulist (fl. c. 400 ce). He dedicated his 42 fables in elegiacs to one Theodosius, who is commonly held to be *Macrobius (Macrobius Ambrosius Theodosius); it is possible (though not more) that he is the Avienus who appears in the latter's Saturnalia (who is certainly not the geographical writer *Avienus). His chief source is the Greek fabulist *Babrius, though whether he used Babrius direct or via the Latin prose paraphrase of the 3rd-cent. rhetorician *Iulius Titianus or some other intermediary is debated. He made little use of *Phaedrus (4). As a poet Avianus leaves much to be desired. He is imprecise in expression, and lacks the dramatic instinct of the good story-teller. His language and syntax display features characteristic of late antique Latin, which sit uncomfortably with the many echoes of Virgil, themselves often inappropriately deployed. The metre is broadly Ovidian (see ovid), though there are examples of non-classical prosody.


  • Latin Literature

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