In his note to this line, Ricks explains that Tennyson did not introduce the word "Ausonian" until 1850 (earlier editions read "Tuscan"), and he quotes Tennyson's explanation that the nymph Egeria "gave the laws to Numa Pompilia," a legend told in Rollin's Ancient History. This section of the poem, which began with two Christian scenes — the Madonna and child and St. Cecilia — and then moved to Islam and the British myth of King Arthur, here introduces Roman history, specifically the mythological origin of Roman law. In the next stanza he moves to Hindu mythology.
[Back to the passage in "The Palace of Art"]
Tennyson, Alfred. The Poems. Ed. Christopher Ricks. (Longmans Annotated Poets Series) London: Longmans, 1969.
Last modified 11 October 2005