Eumenius (born c. 260 at the latest, more probably between 230 and 240), was one of the Roman panegyrists and author of a speech transmitted in the collection of the Panegyrici Latini (Pan. Lat. IX).
Eumenius was born in Gallia Lugdunensis at Augustodunum (Autun), the civitas capital of the Celtic Aedui. He was of Greek descent; his grandfather, who had migrated from Athens to Rome, finally settled at Autun as a teacher of rhetoric. Eumenius probably took his place, for it was from Autun that he went to be magister memoriae (private secretary) to Constantius Chlorus, whom he accompanied on several of his campaigns.
In 296 Chlorus determined to restore the famous schools (scholae Maenianae) of Autun. During the turmoil in 3rd century Gaul, instruction had ceased, maybe due to lack of funding or students, and the buildings had been greatly damaged during a siege of the city in 269. The emperor appointed Eumenius to the management of the schools, allowing him to keep the rank of a senior imperial officer and doubling his salary.
As might be expected from a third-century rhetor, Eumenius had not converted even nominally to Christianity, unlike Ausonius and other fourth and fifth-century writers from Gaul.
His speech, usually called Pro restaurandis (or instaurandis) scholis (For the restoration of the schools), was probably delivered in 297 or 298 in the forum at Autun or Lyon before the governor of the province. The purpose of the speech is to ask the governor if Eumenius may dedicate his salary (or a large part of it) to rebuild the schools at Autun. He praises the emperors (Constantius Chlorus and his colleagues of the tetrarchy) and sets forth the steps necessary to restore the schools to their former state of efficiency, stressing that he intends to assist the good work out of his own pocket. To this end, he cites the imperial letter of Constantius granting him his position and salary at length, and it is from the address of that letter that the name of the oration's author is preserved.
Formerly, other anonymous panegyrics of the Panegyrici Latini have been attributed to Eumenius, too. The most extreme position was that by Otto Seeck, who held that all of them were by Eumenius. This view has been largely abandoned today, and Eumenius is regarded as the author of only Pro instaurandis scholis.
- In manuscript order. In chronological order, his speech is counted as either 4 or 5.
- Greg Woolf, Becoming Roman: The Origins of Provincial Civilization in Gaul (Cambridge University Press, 1998, 2003), p. 1.
- Otto Seeck, Eumenius, RE 6.1 (1907).
- Nixon and Rodgers, pp. 8–10.
- C.E.V. Nixon / Barbara Rodgers: In Praise of Later Roman Emperors, Berkeley 1994.
- Édouard Galletier (ed.): Panégyriques latins, 3 vols., Paris 1949–55.
- Barbara Rodgers, Eumenius of Augustodunum, Ancient Society 20 (1989), pp. 249–262.