Mythological References in Ausonius’ Epistolary


  • Chiara Di Serio


Ausonius’ letters constitute a specimen of the way he employs references to Greek mythology. The process by which Ausonius reworks mythological material fol- lows patterns that were already well established in the Latin literary tradition of re-working Greek sources. The recycling of such material is not only proof of his technical prowess, but also demonstrates his ability to perform precise thematic choices. Frequently, the use of mythology is part of the metaliterary and metapoetic discourses tackled by Ausonius while addressing his friends as recipients of letters. The analysis of individual letters reveals how the poet used mythological references for two main purposes. The first is to elevate the tone and content of the discourse, employing a series of artificial comparisons with mythical characters and events. Brief mythological references used to formulate playful numerical periphrases are also worth noting here. The second aim is encomiastic, namely the celebration of his friends, the recipients of his letters, who are transferred from everyday reality to the higher level of the mythical dimension and the superhuman sphere.