Appendix I : The Ordo generis Cassiodororum

THE text here presented was discovered by Alfred Holder in the course of a study of Reichenau manuscripts. He turned it over to Hermann Usener, who published it in pamphlet form with a commentary in 1877.[[1]] It has been reprinted frequently since, with each editor lending his hand to the task of emending the crucial passages.[[2]] In the intervening century, other copies of the fragment have come to light, all apparently derived from the first copy discovered; but there is one possibly improved reading in one of the other manuscripts. The original discovery was made in Karlsruhe Augiensis 106, dating from the tenth century, containing a good copy of one of the interpolated versions of the second book of the In- stitutiones. Mynors quoted Bischoff to the effect that the script is typical of northern France. The other principal copy is Reims 975, another tenth-century copy of the same interpolated version of the second book of the Institutiones, where, however, only the last paragraph of the Ordo generis, pertaining to Cassiodorus himself, has been preserved; it has not been formally collated with the other copy, but Cappuyns reported one variant reading of significance that it contains.[[3]] Finally, it has been reported that certain later manuscripts with connections to Reichenau transmit the paragraph dealing with Symmachus; one manuscript even conflates the Ordo generis paragraph with a narrative of the martyrdom of Boethius and Symmachus.[[4]]

Because any substantive emendations involve decisions about the dating of the text and the chronology of Cassiodorus' career, I will give the text of the fragment following the manuscript as closely as possible, giving in my text only the unanimously accepted corrections (with readings of Aug. 106 in the apparatus). A commentary on the various difficulties follows. Text

          Excerpta ex libello Cassiodori Senatoris
     monachi servi dei ex patricio, ex consule
     ordinario quaestore et magistro officiorum
     quem scripsit ad Rufium Petronium Nicomachum
5    ex consule ordinario patricium et magistrum
     officiorum.  ordo generis Cassiodororum: qui
     scriptores extiterint ex eorum progenie vel 
     +ex quibus eruditis+
         Symmachus patricius et consul ordinarius,
10   vir philosophus, qui antiqui Catonis fuit
     novellus imitator, sed virtutes veterum
     sanctissima religione transcendit.
     dixit sententiam pro allecticiis in senatu, parentesque
     suos imitatus historiam quoque Romanam septem
15   libris edidit.
         Boethius dignitatibus summis excelluit.
     utraque lingua peritissimus orator fuit. qui
     regem Theodorichum in senatu pro consulatu
     filiorum luculenta oratione laudavit. scripsit 
20   librum de sancta trinitate et capita quaedam
     dogmatica et librum contra Nestorium. condidit 
     et carmen bucolicum. sed in opere artis logicae 
     id est dialecticae transferendo ac mathematicis 
     disciplinis talis fuit ut antiquos auctores aut 
25   aequiperaret aut vinceret. 
         Cassiodorus Senator vir eruditissimus et multis 
     dignitatibus pollens. iuvenis adeo, dum patris 
     Cassiodori patricii et praefecti praetorii 
     consiliarius fieret et laudes Theodorichi regis 
30   Gothorum facundissime recitasset, ab eo quaestor 
     est factus, patricius et consul ordinarius, 
     postmodum dehinc magister officiorum; et 
     +praefuisset+ formulas dictionum, quas in duodecim 
     libris ordinavit et Variarum titulum superposuit. 
35   scripsit praecipiente Theodoricho rege historiam 
     Gothicam, originem eorum et 1oca mores XII 
     libris annuntians. 

1   Excepta (et Mommsen);  casiodori    2  & cons
5     & cons ordinarium     6    officioru; casiodoruq
13     proalecticiis     16     Botius     20     cap
22     bocholicum; loicae     24     fuit (bis scriptum, 
priore 1oco erasum)     25     eq. perar&
28     praecorii (apud Usener), praecarii (apud Fridh)
29     consilianus fier& laudes     32     offociorum (corr.
a manu prima)     36     & 1oca mores in libris (et Mommsen)


2-3. monachi servi... officiorum. The original text of the work from which this is excerpted dates, at the latest, from the years at Constantinople. It is therefore to be assumed that the first sentence is the work of a later copyist, identifying what he is about to excerpt. Mommsen deleted these two lines, as though the rest of the sentence could be Cassiodorus' own words.

2. ex patricio. This is not formally correct; the patriciate was an honorary title held for life.

4-5. Ruffium Petronium Nicomachum ex consule. Usener stigmatized this phrase for omitting the usual late Roman designator of rank (in this case, V.I. for Vir Illustris); but it is significant that such designators are omitted for all the figures of this fragment. A monastic copyist (implied by the mention of monasticity in line 2) might easily omit them.

8. +ex quibus eruditis+. Usener replaced quibus with civibus; Mommsen began (in the preface to his edition of Jordanes) with vel qui eruditi; in his edition of the Variae he allowed the manuscript reading to stand, voicing a suspicion that some verb like profecerint had dropped out after eruditis. Mynors, quoted by Momigliano, PBA, 41(1955), 231, offered claruerit after eruditis, with an understood subject like genus or progenies. Finally, Cappuyns, in his discussion of the Ordo generis cited above, offered the simplest emendation: eruditi sunt (but he probably should have said sint). The point at issue is a vital one, unfortunately, for a clear reading of the text would make it clear just what relationship Cassiodorus was claiming existed between himself and the two figures described. On balance, the most obvious readings of the text seem to downgrade the probability of strict blood or marriage relationship between Cassiodorus and the others; but the whole gist of the document as preserved seems to be to list individuals who are related to the Cassiodori. Since, further, the fragment preserved is only an excerpt from some presumably longer work, the difficulties presented are insoluble; we can only balance probabilities and possibilities. (And recall that the title, Ordo generis Cassiodororum, does not go back demonstrably further than the excerptor, who may have misunderstood the purport of the work himself.)

11. imitator. Note that the same idea is repeated fifteen words later, 14 imitatus.

13-14. parentesque suos imitatus. An allusion to the Annales of Virius Nicomachus Flavianus (A.D. c. 334-394), recorded in CIL 6.1783 (cf. J. Matthews, Western Aristocracies and Imperial Court, A.D. 364-425 [1975], 231).

16-25. This is, of course, the text that radically increased the difficulty of arguing that Boethius the Christian was not the same individual as Boethius the philosopher (cf. especially V. Schurr, Die Trinitätslehre des Boethius im Lichte der "skythischen Kontroversen" [1935]). But note that no mention of the Consolario philosophiae is made. (The carmen bucolicum probably refers to the earlier literary activity mentioned in the first lines of the Consolatio. )

28. Notice that the usual formula praefectus praetorio is here altered by the substitution of the genitive praetorii (restored by Usener). Again a monastic scribe unaccustomed to the terminology of chanceries is indicated.

29. The et is another of Usener's restorations, and a likely one. Note here and in line 26 the superlatives applied to Cassiodorus in this paragraph; the description of the putative author of the fragment is every bit as impersonal and eulogistic as those of the other two subjects.

31. patricius. If we knew when Cassiodorus received this title, whether early in life like Boethius or late like his own father, it would help to date the Ordo generis.

33. +et praefuisset+. Usener was happy to delete everything from et (end of line 32) through superposuit (line 34). Mommsen emended praefuisset to run "praefectus praetorio. suggessit formulas .... "B. Hasenstab, Studien zur Variensammlung des Cassiodorus Senator (1883), 3, suggested "praefectus praetorio fuit et formulas dictionum in duodecim libris ...." Fridh gives "praefectus praetorio. composuit et formulas ...."He does not seem to know, however, the suggestion made by Cappuyns, who apparently found in Reims 975 the single word praefectus already in the text for praefuisset; but Cappuyns' report of the reading (DHGE, 11[1949], 1368) is clumsily presented in such a way as to make only further hash of an already jumbled sentence.

The only unavoidable problem with the text is the at least unclassical use of praefuisset, which (1) does not ordinarily take the accusative direct object, and (2) is in the subjunctive in an apparently independent clause where we would expect the in- dicative.

A hitherto unnoticed solution runs this way: In the first lines of the Ordo generis, Cassiodorus' cursus is only carried as far as his tenure as magister officiorum. In the last paragraph the only justification for seeing an allusion to the period of his prefecture lies in the relative clause beginning "quas in duodecim libris" (referring to the Variae and thus to the end of the prefecture) and in the appearance on the same part of the page of the letters praef- in praefuisset. If we assume, however, that the simplest reading of the evidence is the correct one, namely that the text before us dates in its original form to some time towards the end of Cassiodorus' term as magister officiorum (or at least to before his appointment as prefect), then the words put in Athalaric's mouth in Var. 9.25.7-8 take on considerable significance: "Erat solus ad universa sufficiens: ipsum dictatio pubfica, ipsum consilia nostra poscebant, et labore huius actum est, ne laboraret imperium. Repperimus eum quidem magistrum, sed implevit nobis quaestoris officium ...." This is documentary evidence for the view, canvassed at length and generally approved in Chapter 1 above, that the documents in Var. 5-10 from after Cassiodorus' formal term as quaestor were things written above and beyond the call of duty, that Cassiodorus' proficiency as a ghostwriter was so remarkable that he was called upon to perform what were technically quaestorial functions long after he had risen higher in the ranks. In that regard his superintendence of the preparation of the formulae dictionum might well be a matter of remark and a sign of the regard in which he was held by his superiors.

In that light, praefuisset is not so bad a reading after all. The first difficulty mentioned above can be overcome by concluding either that the Latinity of the author or scribe of our text had weakened to the point of accepting an accusative direct object after forms of praesum (on analogy from praeficio?) or that some other verb is intended for this site (and that would be related to the mistaken subjunctive) or that, indeed, formulas has assimilated the -as ending from quas after having originally been in fact formulis. The second difficulty, the subjunctive, is easier to resolve. In the first place, it seems to echo the earlier subjunctives in the paragraph, especially recitasset three lines earlier; and second, if the text originally contained a verb from a different root that the scribe was mistakenly attempting to correct, the incorrect form given here could echo as well the shape of the original word. What such another verb might be, I am not sure, but I note that it could as easily have begun with pro- as with prae-. (But might not the simplest emendation of all, to prafuit formulis, yet be the best?)

With all this out of the way, Cappuyns' new reading of praefectus for praefuisset merits treatment along with the relative clause beginning quas in duodecim libris. If we assume an initial date for this work of c. 527-533, it is clear that the actual excerpt represented here comes from a later period, probably (as other indications have shown) from some time in Cassiodorus' monastic career. Thus the clause describing the Variae would be the interpolation, obviously suggested by the pre- existing mention of the formulae dictionum. As for the altered praefectus, perhaps the scribe of Reims 975 was simply quicker (by a millennium or so) to emend than Hasenstab, Mommsen, or Fridh.

A final note on the date of the making of the excerpt: as indicated in Chapter 6 above, following A. van de Vyver, Rev. Ben., 53(1941), 59-88, the interpolated versions of the second book of the Institutiones with which this fragment survives derive from the earliest edition of the complete Institutiones prepared in 562. Apparently a copy of at least the second book had left the Vivarium before Cassiodorus could make his own later revisions on it, thus probably in Cassiodorus' own lifetime; if that assumption is true, then the Ordo generis may well have been placed on the manuscript which left the Vivarium to identify the author of the Institutiones. But we cannot be certain that this did not take place until after Cassiodorus' death.

36. loca mores XII libris. Usener's restoration of this passage ("1oca moresque XII libris") was dropped by Mommsen but partly accepted by Fridh (who drops the -que but retains the XII). I accept Fridh's reading; I am as sensitive as Usener to the greater elegance and correctness added by the enclitic -que but find no reason to depart from the manuscript. The XII seems to me an important correction for two reasons. First, Cassiodorus' passion for writing works in twelve books, chapters, etc., seems to me so strong that he would mention it here as well, especially if the reference just before to the Variae is by Cassiodorus himself. Even if that passage is an interpolation, however, the form of that interpolation may well have been further conditioned by the surrounding text, including this precise point. Second, the paragraph on Symmachus makes it very clear, at just this parallel point in the last line, that his Roman history contained seven books; the formality of the whole piece and the impersonality of the descriptions indicates to me that the parallelism would be carried out, even by an interpolating excerptor.