Female Characters in the Collection Parentalia by Decimus Magnus Ausonius

Tatiana Krynicka


Parentalia is a collection by Ausonius made of 30 works dedicated to 33 of his deceased relations. 15 out of 33 were Gallo-Roman women, living somewhere between the mid-3rd and the late 4th century. In a way similar to other Antique authors of mourning laments and elegies, the poet praises the admirable conduct, modesty, commitment to duties, loyalty and readiness for conciliation with their spouses as well as their care for children and grandchildren. What Ausonius values most in these women is their ability to find the middle ground for joyfulness and solemnity, kind-heartedness with dignity, or – in general – the ability to find the golden means of human disposition. He also speaks with respect and appreciation about those women who willingly  stayed in virginity until death. He utters his warm and subtle words about those who died young. However, the most emotional poem in the collection is dedicated to his young deceased wife Sabina. The poems are individual portraits of mothers, wives, virgins – both elderly ladies and maidens who passed away young. Of all the women he speaks with nothing but immeasurable respect.


Ausonius; Parentalia; Gallo-Romans; elegiac poetry; female; virginity; family

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Roczniki Humanistyczne · ISSN 0035-7707 | eISSN 2544-5200 | DOI: 10.18290/rh

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