Decimus Magnus Ausonius (4th century AD): Burdigala – from Ordo Urbium Nobilium

Translated by Timothy Adès

From: Top Cities Parade – by Ausonius

(Lastly) no.20: Bordeaux

Impia iamdudum condemno silentia, quod te,
o patria, insignem Baccho fluviisque virisque,
moribus ingeniisque hominum procerumque senatu,
non inter primas memorem, quasi conscius urbis
exiguae inmeritas dubitem contingere laudes.
non pudor hinc nobis; nec enim mihi barbara Rheni
ora nec arctoo domus est glacialis in Haemo:
BURDIGALA est natale solum; dementia caeli
mitis ubi et riguae larga indulgentia terrae,
ver longum brumaeque novo cum sole tepentes
aestifluique amnes, quorum iuga vitea subter
fervent aequoreos imitata fluenta meatus, …

You, my homeland, left till last?
That unseemliness is past!
Souls, wines, rivers, famous all,
Wit and wisdom, City Hall…
Well aware that you are small,
Did I fear to overpraise?
Being small is no disgrace!
Not the cold barbarian Rhine,
Not the arctic peaks of Thrace,
No such glacial home is mine:
Bordeaux is my native place.
Temperate the skies and mild,
Fertile lands that early smiled,
Winters warmed in newborn sun,
Springs full-blown, where rivers run
Like the seas with foaming tides,
Vineyards clinging to their sides…

The 4th century Latin poet Ausonius, born at Bordeaux (Burdigala), began as a teacher of rhetoric. He taught the future Emperor Gratian and rose to be a praetor in Gaul, a commander in Germany and a consul in Rome. He retired to a country estate near his native city. A vineyard nearby is called Château Ausone and another, La Gaffelière, has a Roman mosaic floor.

Translation: Copyright © Timothy Adès

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