Dio Cassius
Lucius Cassius Dio Cocceianus , known in English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 as Cassius Dio, Dio Cassius, or Dio (Dione. lib) was a Roman consul
Roman consul
A consul served in the highest elected political office of the Roman Republic.Each year, two consuls were elected together, to serve for a one-year term. Each consul was given veto power over his colleague and the officials would alternate each month...

 and a noted historian
A historian is a person who studies and writes about the past and is regarded as an authority on it. Historians are concerned with the continuous, methodical narrative and research of past events as relating to the human race; as well as the study of all history in time. If the individual is...

 writing in Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

. Dio published a history of Rome
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

 in 80 volumes, beginning with the legendary arrival of Aeneas
Aeneas , in Greco-Roman mythology, was a Trojan hero, the son of the prince Anchises and the goddess Aphrodite. His father was the second cousin of King Priam of Troy, making Aeneas Priam's second cousin, once removed. The journey of Aeneas from Troy , which led to the founding a hamlet south of...

 in Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 through the subsequent founding of Rome
Founding of Rome
The founding of Rome is reported by many legends, which in recent times are beginning to be supplemented by scientific reconstructions.- Development of the city :...

 (753 BC), the formation of the Republic
Roman Republic
The Roman Republic was the period of the ancient Roman civilization where the government operated as a republic. It began with the overthrow of the Roman monarchy, traditionally dated around 508 BC, and its replacement by a government headed by two consuls, elected annually by the citizens and...

 (509 BC), and the creation of the Empire
History of the Roman Empire
The broader history of the Roman Empire extends through 16 centuries and includes several stages in the evolution of the Roman state. It encompasses the period of the ancient Roman Empire, the period in which it was divided into western and eastern halves, and the history of the Eastern Roman or...

 (31 BC), up to 229 AD; 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
Cassius Apronianus
Cassius Apronianus or Apronianus was a Roman who lived in the 2nd century. He was a member of Cassius , one of the oldest families in Ancient Rome....

, a Roman senator. He was born and raised at Nicaea in Bithynia
Bithynia was an ancient region, kingdom and Roman province in the northwest of Asia Minor, adjoining the Propontis, the Thracian Bosporus and the Euxine .-Description:...

. Byzantine
Byzantine Greeks
Byzantine Greeks or Byzantines is a conventional term used by modern historians to refer to the medieval Greek or Hellenised citizens of the Byzantine Empire, centered mainly in Constantinople, the southern Balkans, the Greek islands, Asia Minor , Cyprus and the large urban centres of the Near East...

 tradition holds that Dio’s mother was the daughter or sister of the Greek
The Greeks, also known as the Hellenes , are a nation and ethnic group native to Greece, Cyprus and neighboring regions. They also form a significant diaspora, with Greek communities established around the world....

 orator and philosopher Dio Chrysostom
Dio Chrysostom
Dio Chrysostom , Dion of Prusa or Dio Cocceianus was a Greek orator, writer, philosopher and historian of the Roman Empire in the 1st century. Eighty of his Discourses are extant, as well as a few Letters and a funny mock essay In Praise of Hair, as well as a few other fragments...

; this relationship has been disputed. His praenomen
The praenomen was a personal name chosen by the parents of a Roman child. It was first bestowed on the dies lustricus , the eighth day after the birth of a girl, or the ninth day after the birth of a boy...

is usually held to have been Lucius, but a Macedonian
Macedonia (Roman province)
The Roman province of Macedonia was officially established in 146 BC, after the Roman general Quintus Caecilius Metellus defeated Andriscus of Macedon, the last Ancient King of Macedon in 148 BC, and after the four client republics established by Rome in the region were dissolved...

 inscription published in 1970 shows it as Cl., presumably Claudius. Although a Roman citizen, he wrote in Greek. Dio always maintained a love for his 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
Commodus , was Roman Emperor from 180 to 192. He also ruled as co-emperor with his father Marcus Aurelius from 177 until his father's death in 180. His name changed throughout his reign; see changes of name for earlier and later forms. His accession as emperor was the first time a son had succeeded...

 and governor of Smyrna
Izmir is a large metropolis in the western extremity of Anatolia. The metropolitan area in the entire Izmir Province had a population of 3.35 million as of 2010, making the city third most populous in Turkey...

 after the death of Septimius Severus
Septimius Severus
Septimius Severus , also known as Severus, was Roman Emperor from 193 to 211. Severus was born in Leptis Magna in the province of Africa. As a young man he advanced through the customary succession of offices under the reigns of Marcus Aurelius and Commodus. Severus seized power after the death of...

, and afterwards suffect consul around 205. He was also Proconsul
A proconsul was a governor of a province in the Roman Republic appointed for one year by the senate. In modern usage, the title has been used for a person from one country ruling another country or bluntly interfering in another country's internal affairs.-Ancient Rome:In the Roman Republic, a...

 in Africa and Pannonia
Pannonia was an ancient province of the Roman Empire bounded north and east by the Danube, coterminous westward with Noricum and upper Italy, and southward with Dalmatia and upper Moesia....

. Severus Alexander held him in the highest esteem and made him his consul again, even though his caustic nature irritated the Praetorian Guard
Praetorian Guard
The Praetorian Guard was a force of bodyguards used by Roman Emperors. The title was already used during the Roman Republic for the guards of Roman generals, at least since the rise to prominence of the Scipio family around 275 BC...

s, 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.

Roman History

Dio published a Roman History (Historia Romana), 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
Boudica , also known as Boadicea and known in Welsh as "Buddug" was queen of the British Iceni tribe who led an uprising against the occupying forces of the Roman Empire....

. Until the 1st 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
Lucius Licinius Lucullus , was an optimate politician of the late Roman Republic, closely connected with Sulla Felix...

 against Mithridates VI of Pontus
Mithridates VI of Pontus
Mithridates VI or Mithradates VI Mithradates , from Old Persian Mithradatha, "gift of Mithra"; 134 BC – 63 BC, also known as Mithradates the Great and Eupator Dionysius, was king of Pontus and Armenia Minor in northern Anatolia from about 120 BC to 63 BC...

) and the 36th (on the war with the pirates and the expedition of Pompey
Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus, also known as Pompey or Pompey the Great , was a military and political leader of the late Roman Republic...

 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
Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa
Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa was a Roman statesman and general. He was a close friend, son-in-law, lieutenant and defense minister to Octavian, the future Emperor Caesar Augustus...

. 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
Publius Quinctilius Varus
Publius Quinctilius Varus was a Roman politician and general under Emperor Augustus, mainly remembered for having lost three Roman legions and his own life when attacked by Germanic leader Arminius in the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest.-Life:His paternal grandfather was senator Sextus Quinctilius...

 in Germany to the death of Claudius
Claudius , was Roman Emperor from 41 to 54. A member of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, he was the son of Drusus and Antonia Minor. He was born at Lugdunum in Gaul and was the first Roman Emperor to be born outside Italy...

. Of the next 20 books in the series, there remain only fragments and the meager abridgement of John Xiphilinus
John Xiphilinus
Joannes Xiphilinus , epitomator of Dio Cassius, lived at Constantinople during the latter half of the 11th century AD. He was a monk and the nephew of Patriarch John VIII of Constantinople, a well-known preacher ....

, 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
Michael VII
Michael VII Doukas or Ducas , nicknamed Parapinakēs , was Byzantine emperor from 1071 to 1078.- Life :...


The fragments of the first 36 books, as now collected, are of four kinds:
  1. Fragmenta Valesiana
    Fragmenta Valesiana
    Fragmenta Valesiana is a Roman text written by Cassius Dio, dispersed throughout various writers, scholastics, grammarians, lexicographers, etc., and collected by Henri de Valois....

    , such as were dispersed throughout various writers, scholiasts, grammarians, and lexicographers, and were collected by Henri Valois
    Henri Valois
    Henri Valois or in classical circles, Henricus Valesius, was a philologist and a student of classical and ecclesiastical historians...

  2. 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
    Constantine VII
    Constantine VII Porphyrogennetos or Porphyrogenitus, "the Purple-born" was the fourth Emperor of the Macedonian dynasty of the Byzantine Empire, reigning from 913 to 959...

     Porphyrogenitus. The manuscript of this belonged to Peiresc.
  3. 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.
  4. Excerpta Vaticana, by Angelo Mai
    Angelo Mai
    Angelo Mai was an Italian Cardinal and philologist. He won a European reputation for publishing for the first time a series of previously unknown ancient texts. These he was able to discover and publish, first while in charge of the Biblioteca Ambrosiana in Milan and then in the same role at the...

    , which contain fragments of books 1 to 35, and 61 to 80. To these are added the fragments of an unknown continuator
    A continuator, in literature, is a writer who creates a new work based on someone else's prior text, such as a novel or novel fragment. The new work may complete the older work , or may try to serve as a sequel or prequel to the older work A continuator, in literature, is a writer who creates a new...

     of Dio (Anonymus post Dionem), generally identified with the 6th-century historian Peter the Patrician
    Peter the Patrician
    Peter the Patrician was a senior East Roman or Byzantine official, diplomat and historian. A well-educated and successful lawyer, he was repeatedly sent as envoy to Ostrogothic Italy in the prelude to the Gothic War of 535–554. Despite his diplomatic skill, he was not able to avert war, and was...

    , which go down to the time of Constantine
    Constantine I
    Constantine the Great , also known as Constantine I or Saint Constantine, was Roman Emperor from 306 to 337. Well known for being the first Roman emperor to convert to Christianity, Constantine and co-Emperor Licinius issued the Edict of Milan in 313, which proclaimed religious tolerance of all...

    . 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
    Maximus Planudes
    Maximus Planudes, less often Maximos Planoudes , Byzantine grammarian and theologian, flourished during the reigns of Michael VIII Palaeologus and Andronicus II Palaeologus. He was born at Nicomedia in Bithynia, but the greater part of his life was spent in Constantinople, where as a monk he...

    . The annals of Joannes Zonaras
    Joannes Zonaras
    Ioannes Zonaras was a Byzantine chronicler and theologian, who lived at Constantinople.Under Emperor Alexios I Komnenos he held the offices of head justice and private secretary to the emperor, but after Alexios' death, he retired to the monastery of St Glykeria, where he spent the rest of his...

     also contain numerous extracts from Dio.

Literary style

Dio attempted to emulate Thucydides
Thucydides was a Greek historian and author from Alimos. His History of the Peloponnesian War recounts the 5th century BC war between Sparta and Athens to the year 411 BC...

 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
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

 during his own lifetime.


  • Alain Gowing, " Dio's Name". Classical Philology
    Classical philology
    Classical philology is the study of ancient Greek and classical Latin. Classical philology has been defined as "the careful study of the literary and philosophical texts of the ancient Greek and Roman worlds." Greek and Latin literature and civilization have traditionally been considered...

    ,Vol. 85, No. 1 (Jan., 1990), pp. 49–54. JSTOR
    JSTOR is an online system for archiving academic journals, founded in 1995. It provides its member institutions full-text searches of digitized back issues of several hundred well-known journals, dating back to 1665 in the case of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society...


External links

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