[[1.]] Properly, Ordo generis Cassiodororum. I give a text with notes in Appendix 1.
[[2.]] For the evidence on Cethegus, see J. Sundwall, Abhandlungen zur Geschichte des ausgehenden R”mertums (1919), 107-109.
[[3.]] Cf. Appendix 1.
[[4.]] Var. 1.3, 1.4, 3.28, 9.24, 9.25. The letters in Cassiodorus' own name announcing his appointment as praetorian prefect to various dignitaries (Var. I 1.1-3) are also helpful.
[[5.]] Sundwall, Abhandlungen, 84-177, covers the whole Ostrogothic period and its leading lights.
[[6.]] The other two published works of the public career, the Chronica and the Getica, furnish scanty but still indispensable data.
[[7.]] Var. 1.4.9. The same passage includes a characterization of the family that includes the only physical description of them: "Antiqua proles, laudata prosapies, cum togatis clari, inter viros fortes eximii, quando et valetudine membrorum et corporis proceritate floruerunt."
[[8.]] See Appendix 2, below, on the origins and history of the name Cassiodorus.
[[9.]] E.g., Mansi, 8.228; Cassiodorus allows himself a very mild pun on the name in Var. 11.1.1.
[[10.]] It has been suggested that the family, probably in the person of our subject's great-grandfather, came west with Placidia and Valentinian III in 423; this is only speculation (J. J. van den Besselaar, Cassiodorus Senator, Leven en Weerken , 32).
[[11.]] The actual level of Greek proficiency possessed by the provincials of this area is a riddle with no solution; I summarize the issues in Chapter 6, below.
[[12.]] Aeneid, 3.551-553:
hinc sinus Herculei (si vera est fama) Tarenti
cernitur, attollit se diva Lacinia contra,
Caulonisque arces et navifragum Scylaceum.
[[13.]] Cf. T. Hodgkin, The Letters of Cassiodorus (1886), 503-505.
[[14.]] As new men, the Cassiodori may have been conscious that theirs was not the best address for a villa in Italy, and some of this chamber-of-commerce puffery may exaggerate. Perhaps this bustling metropolis, whose absence of walls added a rustic flavor, was in truth only a farming town with delusions of grandeur; similarly the descriptions of the lush surroundings may have been inflated for the benefit of the local real-estate industry. The present state of that countryside is not known to me, though the strikingly comprehensive collection of photographs published in the volume Basilicata-- Calabria published by the Touring Club Italiano (1968) shows a country grown nearly barren, yet still visually striking.
[[15.]] Anon. Vales. 68 reports the retirement of Liberius from the prefecture in 500 on the occasion of Theoderic's visit to Rome and gives his successor as Flavius Theodorus. Son of the consul of 480, this Theodorus himself took the consulship in 505, giving a terminus ante quem for his putting off the prefecture. See the Ordo generis, lines 27-31, for the rise of the fourth Cassiodorus during his father's prefecture. 507 is the accepted date for both the father's retirement and the son's appointment as quaestor, and it is convenient to assume that there was no significant gap between the two events, especially since the son was already in office to draft the letters granting the father the patriciate.
[[16.]] This cause was suggested by Hodgkin, The Letters of Cassiodorus (1886), 25.
[[17.]] On Liberius' son Venantius in 507, Var.. 2.15.1; for lnportunus in 509, Var. 3.5.6: for Boethius, Consolatio philosophiae, 2, prosa 3. By Var. 1.10 and 1.45 Boethius seems to have been patricius before he was thirty. Inportunus was elevated to the patriciate upon leaving the consulship while still not yet maturus: Var. 3.5).
[[18.]] Perhaps significant of an upper range for the term, note that the apostate Julian is said (by a man who saw him within a few months of the event) to have been primaevus upon his elevation to the rank of Caesar at age twenty-three, A.D. 355): Ammianus 15.8.12, 16.1.5. That Inportunus was called primaevus at the time of his consulship in 509 (Var. 3.5.6) is no help, since we have no other dates for fixing his age; his father, Caecina Decius Maximus Basilius the younger, had been consul in 481), twenty-nine years before his son. Senarius was appointed comes privatarum in 509 while still primaevus (Var. 4.4.5: "... primaevis introeuntibus..."); his talents seem to bc considerable, and several more letters are addressed to him. Other primaevi appointed to high office include a quaestor in 527/528 (Var. 8.18.2) and an urban prefect c. 527 (Var. 9.7.4-5); see also Rutilius Namatianus, De reditu suo, 1.172, who says of a friend that "primaevus meruit principis ore 1oqui." --For Athalaric, see Var. 10.3.1.
[[19.]] Getica 59; Procopius, De bello gothico 1.2. He is already described as adulescens in 526 (Var. 8.1.3, 8.2.2), while only eight to ten years old.
[[20. ]]It must be admitted that every year taken off Cassiodorus' age at this crucial point is another year added to his career in later life, giving more latitude for dating later activities. It is thus difficult to avoid overemphasizing the youth and precocity of Cassiodorus the quaestor; at best the numbers are educated guesses.
[[21.]] Mommsen argued the dates in the preface to his edition of the Variae (MGH.AA.XII) and printed them at the head of each letter; his conclusions have been followed in Fridh's edition. Some well-advised minor modifications appear in L. Ruggini, Economia e società… nell' "Italia Annonaria" (1961), 554-557.
[[22.]] We know from the preface to the De orthographia that Cassiodorus lived into his ninety-third year (i.e., to at least age 92) and we may keep in mind a probable date of death no earlier than 576 and perhaps several years into the 580's; see further Chapter 7, below.
[[23.]] "Fuit enim nostris temporibus et Dionisius monachus, Scytha natione sed moribus omnino Romanus."
[[24.]] This suggestion was made by J. Chapman, Saint Benedict and the Sixth Century (1929), 37, based on the ambiguous phrase (Inst. 1.23.2), "qui mecum dialecticam legit."
[[25.]] The following passage from Var. 11.39.5 was long thought to indicate that Cassiodorus held the governorship of his home province at some time during the gaps in his public career: "Nam licet et alias provincias studuerim reficere, nihil tamen in illis actum est quod voluerim vindicare. Senserunt me iudicem suum et quibus privatus ab avis atavisque profui, vivacius nisus sum in meis fascibus adiuvare, ut me agnoscerent retinere affectum patriae, quos in meis provectibus sentiebam propensa exultatione gaudere." Besselaar, Cassiodorus Senator en zijn Variae (1945), 24, was the first to point out that this passage implies no such thing.
[[26.]] Jones, LRE, 557-559.
[[27.]] Var. 9.25.8; see also Var., Praef. 7, where Cassiodorus' friends are made to say, obviously referring to the term as prefect, "Addimus etiam, quod frequenter quaesturae vicibus ingravato otii tempus adimit crebra cogitatio, et velut mediocribus fascibus insudanti illa tibi de aliis honoribus principes videntur imponere, quae proprii iudices nequeunt explicare."
[[28.]] He appears in passing as a juror in a case of two senators (with the august names Basilius and Praetextatus) charged with practicing magici artes (Var. 4.22.3); the defendant was found guilty and burned at the stake (Gregory the Great, Dialogi 1.4). Cf. C.H. Coster, The Iudicium Quinquevirale (1935), esp. 37-39; with amendments in his Late Roman Studies (1968), 22-45.
[[29.]]The omission of any mention of their deaths was decisive in leading Hermann Usener to date the Ordo generis to 522, after Boethius' appointment as magister officiorum but before his death. It is also notable that the other victim of the intrigue that defeated Boethius, Albinus, also has two letters in Books I and IV addressed to him (Var. 1.20, 4.30), in one case appointing him to the supervision of one of the circus factions in Rome, and in the other directing him to undertake a rebuilding project.
[[30.]] Var. 12.16 (before I September 537) and 12.22-24 (537/538, probably early winter at latest, since the harvest of 537 seems under discussion).