Cassius Dio or Dio Cassius[note 2] (/ˈkæʃəs ˈdiːoʊ/;
c. 155–235)[note 3] was a Roman statesman and historian of Greek
origin. He published 80 volumes of history on Ancient Rome, beginning
with the arrival of
Aeneas in Italy. The volumes documented the
subsequent founding of Rome (753 BC), the formation of the Republic
(509 BC), and the creation of the Empire (31 BC), up until 229 AD.
Written in Ancient Greek over 22 years, Dio's work covers
approximately 1,000 years of history. Many of his 80 books have
survived intact, or as fragments, providing modern scholars with a
detailed perspective on Roman history.
2 Roman History
3 Literary style
4 See also
7 Further reading
8 External links
Cassius Dio was the son of Cassius Apronianus, a Roman senator,
who was born and raised at
Nicaea in Bithynia. Byzantine tradition
maintains that Dio's mother was the daughter or sister of the Greek
orator and philosopher, Dio Chrysostom; however, this relationship has
been disputed. Lucius is often identified as Dio's praenomen, but a
Macedonian inscription, published in 1970, reveals the abbreviation,
"Cl.", presumably Claudius.[note 4] Although Dio was 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").
For the greater part of his life, Dio was a member of the public
service. He was a senator under
Commodus and governor of Smyrna
following the death of Septimius Severus; he became a suffect consul
in approximately the year 205. Dio was also
Proconsul in Africa and
Severus Alexander held Dio in the highest esteem and
reappointed him to the position of consul, even though his caustic
nature irritated the Praetorian Guards, who demanded his life.
Following his second consulship, while in his later years, Dio
returned to his native country, where he eventually died.
Dio was either the grandfather or great-grandfather of Cassius Dio,
Roman consul in 291.
Dio published a Roman
History (Ῥωμαϊκὴ Ἱστορία,
Historia Romana), in 80 books, after twenty-two years of research and
labour. The books cover a period of approximately 1,400 years,
beginning with the tales from
Roman mythology of the arrival of the
Aeneas in Italy (c. 1200 BC) and the founding of Rome by his
descendant Romulus (753 BC); as well as the historic events of the
republican and imperial eras through 229 AD. The work is one of only
three written Roman sources that document the British revolt of AD
60–61 led by Boudica. Until the first century BC, Dio provides only
a summary of events; after that period, his accounts become more
detailed. From the time of
Commodus (ruled AD 180–192), Dio is very
circumspect in his conveyance of the events that he witnessed.
In the 21st century, fragments remain of the first 36 books, including
considerable portions of both Book 35 (on the war of
Mithridates VI of Pontus) and 36 (on the war with the pirates and the
Pompey against the king of Pontus). The books that
follow, Books 37 through 54, are nearly all complete; they cover the
period from 65 BC to 12 BC, or from the eastern campaign of
the death of Mithridates to the death of Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa.
Book 55 contains a considerable gap, while Books 56 through 60 (which
cover the period from AD 9 through 54) are complete and contain events
from the defeat of Varus in Germany to the death of Claudius. Of the
20 subsequent books in the series, there remain only fragments and the
meager abridgement of John Xiphilinus, a monk from the 11th century.
The abridgment of Xiphilinus, as now extant, commences with Book 35
and continues to the end of Book 80: it is a very indifferent
performance and was made by order of the emperor
Michael VII Doukas. The last book covers the period from 222 to 229
(the first half of the reign of Alexander Severus).
The fragments of the first 36 books, as they have been collected,
consist of four kinds:
Fragmenta Valesiana: fragments that were dispersed throughout various
writers, scholiasts, grammarians, and lexicographers, and were
collected by Henri Valois.
Fragmenta Peiresciana: large extracts, found in the section entitled,
"Of Virtues and Vices", contained in the collection, or portative
library, compiled by order of
Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus. The
manuscript of this belonged to Nicolas-Claude Fabri de Peiresc.
The fragments of the first 34 books, preserved in the second section
of the same work by Constantine, entitled “Of Embassies.” These
are known under the name of Fragmenta Ursiniana, as the manuscript in
which they are contained was found in
Sicily by Fulvio Orsini.
Excerpta Vaticana by Angelo Mai: Contains fragments of books 1 to 35
and 61 to 80. Additionally, fragments of an unknown continuator of Dio
(Anonymus post Dionem), generally identified with the 6th-century
historian, Peter the Patrician, are included; these date from the time
of Constantine. Other fragments from Dio that are primarily associated
with the first 34 books were found by Mai in two Vatican MSS.; these
contain a collection that was compiled by Maximus Planudes. The annals
Joannes Zonaras also contain numerous extracts from Dio.
Dio attempted to emulate
Thucydides in his writing style. Dio's style,
where there appears to be no corruption of the text, is generally
clear though full of Latinisms. Dio's writing was underpinned by a set
of personal circumstances whereby he was able to observe significant
events of the Empire in the first person, or had direct contact with
the key figures who were involved.
Inaugural games of the Flavian Amphitheatre
^ Alain Gowing, who has edited Cassius Dio, argues that the evidence
for Cocceianus is insufficient, and the ascription is a Byzantine
confusion with Dio Chrysostom, whom Pliny shows to be named
Cocceianus; he provides the previously unattested praenomen of
^ Also known as Dion Kassios Kokkeianos (Ancient Greek: Δίων
Κάσσιος Κοκκηϊανός), Cassius Lucius Dio or Cassius
Claudius Dio; alleged to have the cognomen (nickname)
^ According to some scholars, such as Millar (Millar, F., A study of
Cassius Dio, Oxford 1966, p. 13), he was born later, in 163/164
^ Gowing, who adopts it; Claudius, however, is usually a nomen.
^ Prof. Cary's Introduction at LacusCurtius
^ Gowing, Alain (January 1990), "Dio's Name", Classical Philology, 85
^ Dio's name:
L'Année épigraphique 1971, 430 = Κλ΄ Κάσσιος
Δίων. Roman Military Diplomas, Roxan, 133 = L. Cassius Dio.
^ Millar, Fergus (1964). Study of Cassius Dio. Oxford University
Press. p. 250. ISBN 0-19-814336-2.
^ Carter, John (1987). The Reign of Augustus. London: Penguin Books.
p. 1. ISBN 9780140444483.
^ Martindale, J. R.; Jones, A. H. M, The Prosopography of the Later
Roman Empire, Vol. I AD 260-395, Cambridge University Press (1971),
Library resources about
Resources in your library
Resources in other libraries
By Cassius Dio
Resources in your library
Resources in other libraries
Aalders, G. J. D. 1986. "
Cassius Dio and the Greek World." Mnemosyne
Baltussen, Han. 2002. "Matricide Revisited: Dramatic and Rhetorical
Allusion in Tacitus, Suetonius and Cassius Dio." Antichthon 36: 30-40.
Eisman, M. M. 1977. "Dio and Josephus: Parallel Analyses." Latomus 36:
Gleason, Maud. 2011. "Identity Theft: Doubles and Masquerades in
Cassius Dio's Contemporary History." Classical Antiquity 30.1: 33-86.
Gowing, Alain M. 1990. "Dio’s Name." Classical Philology 85:
Kordos, Jozef. 2010. "Thucydidean Elements in Cassius Dio." Acta
Antiqua Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae 50.2-3:249-256.
Mallan, C. T. 2013. "
Cassius Dio on Julia Domna: A Study of the
Political and Ethical Functions of Biographical Representation in
Dio's Roman History." Mnemosyne 66.4-5: 734-760.
McDougall, Iain. 1991. "Dio and His Sources for Caesar’s Campaigns
in Gaul." Latomus 50:616–638.
Millar, F. G. B. 1964. A Study of Cassius Dio. Oxford: Oxford Univ.
Murison, C. L. 1999. Rebellion and Reconstruction: Galba to Domitian:
An Historical Commentary on Cassius Dio’s Roman History. Books
64–67 (A.D. 68–96). Atlanta: Scholars Press.
Media related to
Cassius Dio at Wikimedia Commons
Works written by or about
Cassius Dio at Wikisource
Cassius Dio at Project Gutenberg
Works by or about
Cassius Dio at Internet Archive
Cassius Dio, Roman
History (English translation on LacusCurtius)
Cassius Dio at Perseus Digital Library
Greek text and French Translation
Dio Cassius: the Manuscripts of "The Roman History"
Editio princeps: Dionis Romanarum historiarum libri XXIII, à XXXVI ad
LVIII vsque (The Roman History), Greek text edited by Robert Estienne,
Paris, 1548. Held by the Corning Museum of Glass.
Editio princeps of Xiphilinus's Epitome (Robert Estienne, Paris, 1551)
at Google Books
Consul suffectus of the Roman Empire
Quintus Aiacius Modestus Crescentianus,
Marcus Pomponius Maecius Probus
Consul of the Roman Empire
with Alexander Severus
Lucius Virius Agricola,
Sextus Catius Clementinus Priscillianus
ISNI: 0000 0001 2144 1495
BNF: cb122023034 (data)