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The Letters of Cassiodorus Being A Condensed Translation Of The Variae Epistolae Of Magnus Aurelius Cassiodorus Senator   By: (487?-585?)

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First Page:

THE LETTERS OF CASSIODORUS

HODGKIN

Oxford

PRINTED BY HORACE HART, PRINTER TO THE UNIVERSITY

THE

LETTERS OF CASSIODORUS

BEING

A CONDENSED TRANSLATION OF THE VARIAE EPISTOLAE OF MAGNUS AURELIUS CASSIODORUS SENATOR

With an Introduction

BY

THOMAS HODGKIN

FELLOW OF UNIVERSITY COLLEGE, LONDON; HON. D.C.L. OF DURHAM UNIVERSITY AUTHOR OF 'ITALY AND HER INVADERS'

LONDON: HENRY FROWDE AMEN CORNER, PATERNOSTER ROW, E.C.

1886.

[ All rights reserved ]

PREFACE.

The abstract of the 'Variae' of Cassiodorus which I now offer to the notice of historical students, belongs to that class of work which Professor Max Müller happily characterised when he entitled two of his volumes 'Chips from a German Workshop.' In the course of my preparatory reading, before beginning the composition of the third and fourth volumes of my book on 'Italy and Her Invaders,' I found it necessary to study very attentively the 'Various Letters' of Cassiodorus, our best and often our only source of information, for the character and the policy of the great Theodoric. The notes which in this process were accumulated upon my hands might, I hoped, be woven into one long chapter on the Ostrogothic government of Italy. When the materials were collected, however, they were so manifold, so perplexing, so full of curious and unexpected detail, that I quite despaired of ever succeeding in the attempt to group them into one harmonious and artistic picture. Frankly, therefore, renouncing a task which is beyond my powers, I offer my notes for the perusal of the few readers who may care to study the mutual reactions of the Roman and the Teutonic mind upon one another in the Sixth Century, and I ask these to accept the artist's assurance, 'The curtain is the picture.'

It will be seen that I only profess to give an abstract, not a full translation of the letters. There is so much repetition and such a lavish expenditure of words in the writings of Cassiodorus, that they lend themselves very readily to the work of the abbreviator. Of course the longer letters generally admit of greater relative reduction in quantity than the shorter ones, but I think it may be said that on an average the letters have lost at least half their bulk in my hands. On any important point the real student will of course refuse to accept my condensed rendering, and will go straight to the fountain head. I hope, however, that even students may occasionally derive the same kind of assistance from my labours which an astronomer derives from the humble instrument called the 'finder' in a great observatory.

A few important letters have been translated, to the best of my ability, verbatim. In the not infrequent instances where I have been unable to extract any intelligible meaning, on grammatical principles, from the words of my author, I have put in the text the nearest approximation that I could discover to his meaning, and placed the unintelligible words in a note, hoping that my readers may be more fortunate in their interpretation than I have been.

With the usual ill fortune of authors, just as my last sheet was passing through the press I received from Italy a number of the 'Atti e Memorie della R. Deputazione di Storia Patria per le Provincie di Romagna' (to which I am a subscriber), containing an elaborate and scholarlike article by S. Augusto Gaudenzi, entitled 'L'Opera di Cassiodorio a Ravenna.' It is a satisfaction to me to see that in several instances S. Gaudenzi and I have reached practically the same conclusions; but I cannot but regret that his paper reached me too late to prevent my benefiting from it more fully. A few of the more important points in which I think S. Gaudenzi throws useful light on our common subject are noticed in the 'Additions and Corrections,' to which I beg to draw my readers' attention.

I may perhaps be allowed to add that the Index, the preparation of which has cost me no small amount of labour, ought (if I have not altogether failed in my endeavour) to be of considerable assistance to the historical enquirer... Continue reading book >>




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