Ausonius III, The Danube Converses with the Emperors

“I, the Danube, ruler of the Illyrian waters, second only to you, Nile, raise my head up from my source. I bid good health to the Emperors – both father and son – whom I nourished among the weapon-toting Pannonians. Now I shall play the messenger, and run to the Euxine Sea, so that Valens – the dear favorite of the gods – may know that the Suevi have been laid low by flame, and the Rhine is no longer the border of the Gauls. And, if I could flow back like the sea, I would be able to bring the vanquished Goths back here.”


Illyricis regnator aquis, tibi, Nile, secundus

Danubius laetum profero fonte caput.

Salvere Augustos jubeo, natumque patremque

Armiferis alui quos ego Pannoniis.

Nuntius Euxino jam nunc volo currere ponto

Ut sciat hoc Superum cura secunda Valens,

Caede, fuga, flammis stratos periisse Suevos,

Nec Rhenum Gallis limitis esse loco.

Quod, si lege maris refluus mihi curreret amnis

Huc possem victos inde referre Gothos.


NOTE: The emperors, father and son, are Valentinian I and his son Gratian. Ausonius was employed by Valentinian I as the tutor to Gratian; Gibbon suggested that this betrayed Valentinian’s lack of interest in religious questions, since Ausonius was an avowed pagan at a time when Christianity had been firmly established as the official religion of the empire. Valens, to whom the news is to be brought, was Valentinian’s brother. Following his own accession to the throne, Valentinian gave the eastern half of the empire over to his brother Valens, who spent substantial portions of his reign engaged in military conflict with the Goths.

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