[[1.]] In Books I-X, there are 346 letters, 45 proclamations, 3 edicts, and 8 legal formulae (in Books VI-VII, 62 form-letters, 2 proclamations, and all 8 legal formulae); in Books XI-XII (in Cassiodorus' own name), 52 letters, 11 proclamations, and 5 edicts.
[[2.]] Augustine's friend Alypius was an incorruptible consiliarius for a comes largitionum Italicianarum at a very early stage in his legal career: Aug., Conf. 6.10.16.
[[3.]] Notitia Dignitatum, Occ. 10.3-5 (ed. Seeck, p. 147).
[[4.]] Knowledge of law as a requirement is specified in Var. 6.5.4; for other characteristics of the quaestorship, see Var. 1.12.2 (it is a "dignitas litterarum"), 1.13.2 (the man must be a iuridicus), 5.4.1-2 (his qualities at some length), 8. 14.4 (his function as a publicist--cf.œ the allusion to his status as ghostwriter in 6.5.2, where he is said to make a "gloriosa falsitas"). The ideal quaestor has a degree of moral independence, however, which Cassiodorus shores up with traditional authority at Var. 8.13.5: "Renovamus certe dictum illud celeberrimurn Traiani: sume dictationem, si bonus fuero, pro re publica et me, si malus, pro re publica in me." But note that this version does not repeat earlier versions surviving from antiquity (Pliny, Paneg. 67.8; Victor, Caes. 13.9) ad verbum, nor do any of those versions refer specifically to the quaestor.
[[5.]] As we saw in Chapter I, at this time actual membership in the senate was almost exclusively conferred by appointment to a post of the rank of illustris. But see Var. 6.11 for an apparent method for conferring the rank-- and actual membership in the senate?--without any accompanying duties.
[[6.]] Amalasuintha did not marry Theodahad, as some assume, but only associated him to her throne; the phrases she uses include "producere ad sceptra/regnum," and "consors regni" for Theodahad himself; see Var. 10.3.2 and 10.4.1 for the latter phrase, which does not imply marriage in Latin. Theodahad was probably already married to Gudeliva, who appears officially as his queen after Amalasuintha's death.
[[7.]] Cassiodorus once calls the post of magister officiorum "quoddam sacerdotium" (Var. 1.12.4).
[[8.]] Abuse of the cursus is deprecated in Var. 4.47 and 5.5. By the sixth century the cursus clabularis (ox-drawn wagons for heavy hauling) seems to have been abandoned, leaving only the cursus velox (horses and light carts); Jones, LRE, 830-834. The Ostrogoths may have maintained arsenals at some of the following sites mentioned in the Notitia Dignitatum: Concordia, Verona, Mantua, Cremona, Ticinum, and Lucca.
[[9.]] For the formulae may in part preserve traditional material about the offices and in part tend to exaggerate the glory of the office for the benefit of the individual to whom the letter is addressed.
[]. The famine in the last four letters of Book XII, once thought the result of the Gothic war, is now known to have been meteorological in origin: L. Ruggini, Economia e società nell' "Italia Annonaria" (1961), 321- 341.
[[11.]] T. Hodgkin, The Letters of Cassiodorus (1886), 93-114, describes the officium of the prefect at length, appending a useful table comparing the pictures given by the Notitia, Cassiodorus, and John Lydus. Jones, LRE, 586-592, summarizes the material more lucidly; his information on the other details of the prefect's tasks is better than Hodgkin's.
[[12.]] Var. 1.26.2 shows one generation of bureaucrats referring to their predecessors' files.
[[13.]] The great difficulty that Cassiodorus would have faced in finding a way to record all the events of the period 519~551 without offending any of his potential audience is, to me, another strong argument against Momigliano's claim that he kept the Gothic History up to date until 551.
[[14.]] Procopius, De bello gothico 1.3.2, also knows of Theodahad's avaricious ways.
[[15.]] Var. 4.39. 1-2: "... avaritiam siquidem radicem esse omnium malorum .... Hamali sanguinis virum non decect vulgare desiderium, quia genus suum conspicit esse purpuratum." Var. 5.12.l: "Si iustitiam colere universos et amare praecipimus, quanto magis eos qui nostra proximitate gloriatur, quos omnia decor sub laude gerere, ut regiae possint fulgorem consanguinitatis ostendere. haec est enim indubitata nobilitas, quae moribus probatur ornata: quia pulchrum est commodum famae foeda neglexisse lucra pecuniae." Note the isolation of fama as a commendable target for acquisitiveness, where money is not.
[[16.]] De bello gothico 2.6.14-22.
[[17.]] Before even the preface, one scrap of text may be authentic and tantalizing without telling us much. In a single MS of the twelfth century there is transmitted the following elegiac couplet before the preface: "Iure Senator amans offert haec dona magistro/cui plus eloquio nulla metalla placent." (Fridh prints this on his reconstructed title page as we would a book's dedication.) The use of the single name Senator has the ring of authenticity; that the line is transmitted only in one copy may prove only that it was transcribed (even at considerable remove) from a single original exemplar, a presentation copy for a revered teacher.
[[18.]] "Dictio semper agrestis est, quae aut sensibus electis per moram non comitur aut verborum minime proprietatibus explicatur."
[[19.]] T. Hodgkin, The Letters of Cassiodorus (1886), 136, erred in his note by assuming that a negative has dropped out of this line; he misses the parallel and contrast between rudes on the one hand and those praeparatos to serve the republic. The text is: "deinde quod rudes viros et ad rem publicam conscia facundia praeparatos labor tuus sine aliqua offensione poterit edocere ..." (Var., Praef 8).
[[20.]] "Oratio dispar moribus vix potest inveniri." An aged commonplace; cf. Seneca, Ep. 114.1: "hoe quod audire vulgo soles, quod apud Graecos in proverbium cessit: talis hominibus fuit oratio qualis vita."
[[21.]] Cassiodorus is not likely to have used his terms loosely in bureaucratic connections; dictatum recalls precisely the function of the quaestor's office as quoted above ("leges dictandae," see note 3, above), thus canceling any impression this sentence might give that there was an essential connection between the offices held and the documents drafted in the king's name; as mentioned before, the contents of Books I through V and VIII through X are indistinguishable from one another in the sense that the same subjects are treated throughout irrespective of the offices Cassiodorus held at different times.
[[22.]] This line probably confirms that Cassiodorus was still on the job as prefect when compiling the Variae, and thus in touch with the royal archives (and secretarial assistance). But was he phasing out his activity and thus more at leisure than (as he reminds us throughout these prefaces) was his custom while serving as prefect?
[[23.]] "Librorum vero titulum... variarum nomine praenotavi;" cf.œ Ordo generis, line 14.
[[24.]] Cassiodorus is scrupulous about the inclusion in the Variae only of pieces he has himself written; it would have been easy to include some of Felix's work without admitting that someone else had written them.
[[25.]] The sequence of letters (Var. 3.20, in which Faustus is mentioned as prefect, and Var. 3.21, in which he is addressed only as "V.I."--which rank would remain if the office were removed) has inspired suspicion, which then fastens on the sudden appearance of the older Cassiodorus in Var. 3.28.
[[26.]] The case of Argolicus, urban prefect from 510, is only an apparent exception. Appointed in Var. 3. 11, recipient of five more letters in Books III and IV, he is rather sharply rebuked in 4.29 for a fairly ordinary-sounding bit of profiteering in office; he is seen again in 4.42 in unrelated business. Argolicus' reputation was clearly slight enough to be sacrificed to show 'Theoderic as a corruption-fighting king. By contrast, Var. 8.20, appointing Avienus praetorian prefect, cast aspersions on a nameless predecessor in that office (who almost surely must be Abundantius--cf 5.16, 9.4).
[[27.]] One suspects that many letters in Book V, however, may still date from the period 507-511; but this cannot be proven.
[[28.]] Note that 2.27 and 4.43, as well as 3.23 and 4.13, are pairs of letters that have gotten separated by inadvertence. Another slip of the compiler is the presence of both 1.39 and 4.6, which are verbally identical descriptions of two similar cases (Cassiodorus was using formulae of his own all along, no doubt).
[[29.]] Var. 9.1 is the only letter to a German king after Theoderic's death; Besselaar, Cassiodorus Senator en zijn Variae (1945), 124, points out how this fetter, full of threats and recriminations, exemplifies the decline of the policy that Theoderic had pursued towards his neighbors, which had led Cassiodorus, as abridged by Jordanes, to claim that, "nec fuit in parte occidua gens, quae Theoderico, dum adviveret, aut amicitia aut subiectione non deserviret" (Get. 58.303).
[[30.]] Besselaar, op. cit., 163, identifies the two positions of honor, but claims that elevation of style is more important than addressee. As I show, content takes precedence over style and is on a par with addressee in determining position.
[[31.]] The beginning and ending letters are tied together most closely in the first three books, where Books I and II end with letters to Gundobad and Clovis (probably written almost simultaneously) offering attractive bribes furnished by Boethius as bait to win favorable consideration of peace initiatives; Book III begins with the dossier of letters that followed these gifts by some time, in which the motives of diplomacy are more explicit and, as events proved, more hopeless, however noble.
[[32.]] These two letters may date to before and after the appearance at court and may be meant to show the workings of the king's justice in some detail. Our view is distorted because we can see only the indictment and/or the execution, never the legal process itself
[[33.]] Var. 1.35, the sucking-fish letter (discussed below) is a good example of the gentle chiding at which Theoderic excelled when Cassiodorus wrote the words.
[[34.]] The over-sensitive distinction between Brief and Epistel, which Besselaar, Cassiodorus Senator en zijn Variae (1945), 127, applies to Cassiodorus (stemming from theories of A. Deissmann), has been confuted by A.J. Fridh, Terminologie et formules dans les "Variae" (1956), 3-4.
[[35.]] Letters that pause to praise Cassiodorus' home province (Lucania et Bruttii) include 3.8, 8.31-33, 9.3-4, 11.39.3 (the first "for example" that comes to his mind), 12.5, and 12.12-15; this probably shows a combination of native bias and a half-random search of the files. See also 2.29-30, clearly pulled from the "Milan" file together, though otherwise unrelated.
[[36.]] H.F.A. Nickstadt, De digressionibus quibus in Variis usus est Cassiodorus (1921) on the digressions; see also A.J. Fridh, Terminologie et formules dans les "Variae" (1956), 18-19.
[[37.]] Var. 5.2.15 cites Tacitus' Germania on the origins of amber.
[[38.]] Ambrose, Hexameron, 5.10.31: Nickstadt, op. cit., 22-23, showed the connection to Ambrose and listed parallel passages.
[[39.]] see Vergil slightly misquoted from memory in Var. 5.21.3 and 5.42.11, for example.
[[40.]] Besselaar, Cassiodorus Senator en zijn Variae (1945), 145-147, identified forty-three uses of etymology (not all noted in Traube's index to Mommsen's edition).
[[41.]] On the preamble to the typical letter, see my remarks above and A.J. Fridh, Terminologie et formules dans les "Variae" (1956), 30-59.
[[42.]] Var. 11.1, in which Cassiodorus announced his own appointment as prefect to the senate.
[[43.]] For this practice in the strictly personal letter-writing of late antiquity, see J.F. Matthews, "The Letters of Symmachus," in J.W. Binns, ed., Latin Literature of the Fourth Century (1974), 48-99, esp. 63-81. He shows how our valuation of trivia and substance is exactly the reverse of the late antique taste; we think the elegant letters preserved intentionally are trivial, hankering after concrete information that the disdainful ancients consigned to their attached memos.
[[44.]] On the language of the Variae, see A.J. Fridh, Terminologie et formules dans les "Variae" (1956); also his Études critiques et syntaxiques sur les Variae de Cassiodore (1950), and his Contributions à la critique et à l'interprétation des Variae de Cassiodore (1968), all prolegomena to his Corpus Christianorum edition (1973). There are several dissertations from the Catholic University of America on Cassiodorus; for the Variae, see B.H. Skahill, The Syntax of the Variae of Cassiodorus (1934); M.J. Suelzer, The Clausulae in Cassiodorus (1944, but based on Garet's 1679 text, so compare H. Hagendahl, La prose metrique d'Arnobe , 79-83, 257-260); and (best of all) O.J. Zimmermann, The Late Latin Vocabulary of the Variae of Cassiodorus (1944).
[[45.]] See O.J. Zimmermann, op. cit., for the material in this paragraph. He points out that there was very little afterlife in Latin prose for most of the apparent neologisms in Cassiodorus (only 16 of 129 were ever used again by other authors).
[[46.]] Skahill, op. cit., can be squeezed to produce this paragraph.
[[47.]] A.J. Fridh, Études critiques et syntaxiques ... (1950), 82.
[[48.]] R. MacMullen, Traditio, 18(1962), 364-378. See Besselaar, Cassiodorus Senator en zijn Variae (1945), 179, for a table of the frequency of formal verbs, contributing an air of authority and an appropriate number of syllables for a clausula, but little more, in the Variae and the Institutiones.
[[49.]] E.R. Curtius, European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages (1953), 273-301, for the mannerist theory of late antique and early medieval Latin.
[[50.]] "Gothorum laus est civilitas custodita."
[[51.]] By thirty-four times to thirty-one.
[[52.]] With its derivatives, praesumptio appears about 125 times in the Variae.
[[53.]] See incivilitas equated with praesumptio, Var. 7.39.2.
[[54.]] This is explicitly the case at Var. 7.9.3, often implicitly elsewhere.
[[55.]] One other term appears as a feeble prod to motivate good behavior: fama (cf. note 15, above). A desire for fama will preserve one from too much desire for lucre (Var. 1.4.8), for it benefits a patrician to seek that "quod et famam vestram possit augere" (Var. 2.11.3). This idea is never elevated to the rank of slogan, but it seems to contain a shrewder insight than many other trite expressions of the work. In approving a love of fama, however, Cassiodorus was closer to classical antiquity than to the church fathers. Augustine, De civ. Dei 5.12-15, was even shrewder than Cassiodorus in observing the way a love of glory replaced (sublimated?) lesser cupidities in the Roman scheme of values.
[[56.]] From 535/536; this was probably placed at the end of Theodahad's documents for the reasons enunciated above for placing similar letters at the ends of whole books.