Quintus Aurelius Symmachus (340-c. 420) was born to an important senatorial family at Rome. After having conducted thorough studies in Gaul, he began a brilliant political carrier that carried him first to serve as corrector of Bruttium and Lucania in 364-5; later, from 369-70, he was part of the entourage of Valentinian I when he was engaged in defensive operations against the Alemanni at Augusta Treverorum. On this occasion he befriended Ausonius, who was at that time tutor of the young Gratian, before returning to Rome and marrying Rusticiana, by whom he had two children, a boy and a girl. He passed through the cursus honorum relatively quickly: in 373 he was proconsul in Africa, and in 384 - twenty years after his father, Lucius Aurelius Avianius - he was praefectus urbi. In this role he was involved in the politico-cultural affair that culminated in the drafting of the Relatio III, addressed to the emperor Valentinian II, in order to ask (most likely also under pressures from other factions of the more traditional senatorial aristocracy) for the Altar of Victory to be restored to the Senate House, which Gratian had ordered to be removed two years earlier. The unrelenting opposition of Ambrose, to whom Symmachus was linked (inter alia) by bonds of kinship, determined his defeat in the contest; subsequently, he sided against Theodosius and with the usurper Maximus. The defeat of the latter did not influence the fortunes of the senator, who even was appointed consul in 391. After timid support for an attempt at pagan restoration by another usurper, Eugenius, he dedicated the last years of his life to tending to family affairs and deepening his philological and literary interests. He died in the year 402, perhaps on a return trip to Rome after a stay at Milan at the court of Honorius. [V. del Core; tr. C. L. Caterine].