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date: 04 December 2022

Avienus, Postumus Rufius Festuslocked

Avienus, Postumus Rufius Festuslocked

  • J. H. D. Scourfield


Avienus or Avienius (the correct form is disputed), Postumius Rufius Festus, Latin poet (fl. mid-4th cent. ce). A member of a senatorial family from Volsinii in Etruria, and himself proconsul of Africa and Achaia, Avienus wrote three *didactic poems which survive in whole or part: (1) Descriptio orbis terrae, an adaptation in hexameters of the Greek geographical poem of *Dionysius (9) ‘Periegetes’, with omissions, additions, and amplifications, and describing noteworthy things in physical and political geography while reproducing much ancient ignorance which learned contemporaries could have corrected; (2) Ora maritima, a description in iambics of the Atlantic, Mediterranean, and Black Sea coasts, written after the Descriptio, to which it refers. The surviving part deals mainly with the coast between Marseilles (Massilia) and Cadiz (Gades); though poorly organized, this preserves important early material for our knowledge of ancient geography and seafaring, perhaps collected in a Greek text which was Avienus' immediate source; (3) *Arateaphaenomena, sometimes divided into Phaenomena and Prognostica, an astronomical poem in hexameters based on the Greek original of Aratus (1), on which Avienus expands.


  • Latin Literature

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