Appendix 4: Momigliano's Hypothesis

IN an attractive article that has received wide attention, Arnaldo Momigliano has argued that Cassiodorus himself must have been involved in revising the Gothic History down to the marriage of Germanus and Mathesuentha in 550, else there would not be any emphasis on the connections of Germanus with the Anicii.[[1]] This is a seductive argument, but one for which there is in the end just too little support. First, we do not even know for sure whether Cassiodorus was claiming in the Ordo generis actual kinship with Boethius and Symmachus; second, we do not know that he thought of that relationship as going through the gens Anicia;[[2]] third, there is no other evidence for Cassiodorus' involvement in Gothic politics after his retirement from the praetorian prefecture over a decade before the putative date of a Cassiodorian final revision of the Gothic History; and finally, it has been shown that there is more than adequate room on the imperial family tree of Constantinople for an Anician parent for Germanus himself.[[3]] Cassiodorus' love of literary formalities should also be recalled, as one symptom of which the Gothic History is only one of many Cassiodorian works composed in twelve units; it is not likely that Cassiodorus would have broken up that formal pattern with additions and deletions after the fact, for his literary fastidiousness and vanity were simply too great.[[4]] Finally, it must be recalled that the purpose of the Gothic History was not that of a modern historical narrative, to record events fully, fairly, and accurately, it was merely another species of panegyric, an attempt to provide a legitimate, honorable history of flattering antiquity for newcomers on the Roman scene. If Cassiodorus is to be imagined as adding to the original work as time went on, we must also assume that he gave up the original purpose of the work entirely for a newer motive that is nowhere acknowledged. Furthermore, the quality of the information recorded after Theoderic's death in the abridgement is simply so sketchy (as opposed to the usual ancient practice of becoming more prolix as the author approached his own times) that it is far likelier that the last two chapters are a hasty addition, not an abridgment of a fuller chronicle.