Cassius Dio in Roman Biography
Di'on Cas'sl-us (kash'e-us) or Dio Cassius, or, more
fully, Cas'sius Di'on Cocceia'nus, (kok-se-ya'nus,) an
eminent historian, born at Nicasa, in Bithynia, about 155
A.D., was the son of a Roman senator, and descended by
his mother from Dion Chrysostom. He lived in Rome,
was a senator in the reign of Commodus, and governor
of Smyrna and Pergamos under Macrimts. By the favour
of Alexander Seve'rus, he was elected consul with that
emperor in 229 a.d. He wrote in Greek several works,
the principal of which is his "
History of Rome" (" 'Pu,
/uuk)/ 'Icropia") from the arrival of /Eneas in Italy to the
year 229 A.D., in eighty books, of which the first thirty-
are lost except fragments, and the last twenty exist only
in the abridgment of Xiphilinus. As a historian he is
esteemed for elegance of style, accuracy in dates, and
diligence in search of the truth, for which his official
position afforded him facilities. His work is a rich
collection of documents on the later years of the republic
and the first ages of the empire. His knowledge
of Roman institutions was more exact and extensive
than that of previous historians.
See Fabricius, "Bibliotheca Graca;" Reimarus,
" De Vita el
Scriptis Cassii Dionis," 1752; Schlosser, "Dissertation on
Cassius," prefixed to Lorknz's German version of Dion, 1826;
buhr, "Lectures on Roman History."
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Cassius Dio in Wikipedia
Lucius Cassius Dio Cocceianus (Greek: Δίων ὁ Κάσσιος, c. AD 155 or 163/164 to after 229), known in English as Cassius Dio, Dio
Cassius, or Dio (Dione. lib) was a Roman consul and a noted historian writing in Greek. Dio published a history of Rome in 80 volumes,
beginning with the legendary arrival of Aeneas in Italy through the subsequent founding of Rome and then to 229; a period of about 1,400
years. Of the 80 books, written over 22 years, many survive into the modern age intact or as fragments, providing modern scholars with a
detailed perspective on Roman history.
Cassius Dio was the son of Cassius Apronianus, a Roman senator. He was born and raised at Nicaea in Bithynia. Byzantine tradition holds
that Dio’s mother was the daughter or sister of the Greek orator and philosopher Dio Chrysostom; this relationship has been disputed. His
praenomen is usually held to have been Lucius, but a Macedonian inscription published in 1970 shows it as Cl., presumably Claudius.
Although a Roman citizen, he was Greek by descent, and wrote in Greek. Dio always maintained a love for his Greek hometown of Nicaea,
calling it 'his home', as opposed to his description of his villa in Italy ('my residence in Italy').
Dio passed the greater part of his life in public service. He was a senator under Commodus and governor of Smyrna after the death of
Septimius Severus, and afterwards suffect consul around 205. He was also Proconsul in Africa and Pannonia. Severus Alexander held him in
the highest esteem and made him his consul again, even though his caustic nature irritated the Praetorian Guards, who demanded his life.
Following his second consulship, being advanced in years, he returned to his native country, where he died.
He was the father of Cassius Dio, Consul in 291.
Dio published a Roman History, in 80 books, after 22 years of research and labour. It covers Roman history for a period of about 1,400
years, beginning with the arrival of the legendary Aeneas in Italy (c. 1200 BC), through the subsequent mythistoric founding of Rome (753
BC), then it covers historical events up to AD 229. The work is one of only three written Roman sources that document the Celtic revolt of
60 - 61 AD in Britain, led by Boudica. Until the first century BC, Dio gives only a summary of events; after that period, his accounts
become more detailed; and from the time of Commodus, he is very circumspect in relating what passed under his own eyes.
Today, fragments remain of the first 36 books, including considerable portions of both the 35th book (on the war of Lucullus against
Mithridates VI of Pontus) and the 36th (on the war with the pirates and the expedition of Pompey against the king of Pontus). The books
that follow, to the 54th inclusive, are nearly all complete: they cover the period from 65 BC to 12 BC, or from the eastern campaign of
Pompey and the death of Mithridates to the death of Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa. The 55th book has a considerable gap in it. The 56th to the
60th, inclusive, which cover the period from 9 to 54, are complete, and contain the events from the defeat of Varus in Germany to the
death of Claudius. Of the next 20 books in the series, there remains only fragments and the meager abridgement of John Xiphilinus, a monk
of the 11th century. The 80th or last book covers the period from 222 to 229 (the reign of Alexander Severus). The abridgment of
Xiphilinus, as now extant, commences with the 35th book and continues to the end of the 80th book. It is a very indifferent performance,
and was made by order of the emperor Michael VII Parapinaces.
The fragments of the first 36 books, as now collected, are of four kinds:
Fragmenta Valesiana, such as were dispersed throughout various writers, scholiasts, grammarians, and lexicographers, and were collected by
Fragmenta Peiresciana, comprising large extracts, found in the section entitled "Of Virtues and Vices", in the great collection or
portative library compiled by order of Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus. The manuscript of this belonged to Peiresc.
The fragments of the first 34 books, preserved in the second section of the same work of Constantine's, entitled "Of Embassies." These are
known under the name of Fragmenta Ursiniana, because the manuscript containing them was found in Sicily by Fulvio Orsini.
Excerpta Vaticana, by Angelo Mai, which contain fragments of books 1 to 35, and 61 to 80. To these are added the fragments of an unknown
continuator of Dio (Anonymus post Dionem), generally identified with the 6th-century historian Peter the Patrician, which go down to the
time of Constantine. Other fragments from Dio belonging chiefly to the first 34 books were found by Mai in two Vatican MSS., which contain
a collection made by Maximus Planudes. The annals of Joannes Zonaras also contain numerous extracts from Dio.
Dio attempted to emulate Thucydides in his writing style, but came up short both in arrangement and the presentation of the materials and
in the soundness of his viewpoint and accuracy of his reasoning. His style is generally clear, where there appears to be no corruption of
the text, although his writing is full of Latinisms. His diligence is unquestionable, and due to his personal circumstances he had the
opportunity to either be a first-person observer of or have direct contact with the key figures involved in many of the significant events
of the Empire during his own lifetime.