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Bill Thayer

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Cassius Dio: Roman History

[image ALT: A 2‑story brick building. It is the Curia, or Senate House, of ancient Rome.]
Rome: The Senate-House.

Dio will never let you forget he was a Roman senator!

Since, however, our author was not Italian, but Greek, I've greyed out the modern Monument to Victor Emmanuel in the far background; nor is there any evidence that he might have been Christian, so the church of SS. Luca and Martina in the closer background is also greyed out.

In fact, though, the building that remains — the Curia as we have it today — Cassius Dio never saw. The Curia Julia he knew burnt to the ground about fifty years after he died; it was replaced by the one you see. The details, and the original undoctored version of this photo, are in an article in Platner and Ashby's Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome.

The Author

For the little we know of Dio, filled out with a bit of reasonable conjecture, as well as a brief analysis and critique of the History and a somewhat longer account of the tangled manuscript situation, see Prof. Cary's Introduction.

The excerptors are less well represented online; except for Zonaras, on whom see this brief but careful article in the Catholic Encyclopedia.

The Text of Cassius Dio on LacusCurtius

The entire work is online and has been subjected to several preliminary proofreading passes; but the local link scheme, detailed proofreading, addition of links, commentary, illustrations, etc. are still in progress.

As almost always, I retyped the text rather than scanning it: not only to minimize errors prior to proofreading, but as an opportunity for me to become intimately familiar with the work, an exercise I heartily recommend. (Well-meaning attempts to get me to scan text, if success­ful, would merely turn me into some kind of machine: gambit declined.)

I ran a first proofreading pass immediately after entering each book, and later got sustained help from four other readers, so that the text of all the books is quite good already. I've now started final proofreading: in the table of contents below, books whose text I believe to be completely errorfree are shown on blue backgrounds.

Edition Used

Loeb Classical Library, 9 volumes, Greek texts and facing English translation: Harvard University Press, 1914 thru 1927. Translation by Earnest Cary.

Now in the public domain pursuant to the 1978 revision of the U. S. Copyright Code, since the copyright on the earlier volumes has lapsed and that on the later volumes was not renewed at the appropriate time, which would have been in various years thru 1955. (Details here on the copyright law involved.)

Section Numbering, Local Links

The Book, chapter, and section numbering is confusing. While it follows the standard system used in the Boissevain edition, Prof. Cary exercised a good deal of editorial judgment on the fragmentary texts of Dio and reassembled them in an order that suited him — leaving, however, the standard numbering in place to facilitate reference. As a result, to the casual reader it appears very disordered; for example, sections assigned by Boissevain to one Book often appear in a different Book of the Loeb edition — while keeping the original Book numbering. I in turn follow the Loeb edition, with a single exception of my own! in which I return a piece of text to its place in the Boissevain edition: I mark the spot.

For citation purposes, the Loeb edition pagination is indicated by local links in the sourcecode; except that only the principal text of Dio is so marked in the right margin. Because some pages of the printed edition contain only excerpts, e.g., by Xiphilinus or Zonaras or Tzetzes, some pages will appear even more disordered, seeming to have been skipped in this transcription: but they haven't, and the separate pagination will be found in the sourcecode.

The confusing mess that the Loeb editor superadded to an already complex text, and the technical difficulties involved in sorting it out, were in turn so depressing and took so much of my time (that seemed to me better devoted to more productive purposes) that parts of this transcription, while provided with their numbering, may not actually have local anchors installed and you therefore can't link directly to them. I suppose I'll get to them eventually; if you need some specific local link though, let me know which, and I'll slip it in.

Generally speaking, I will not field the all too many questions or comments I get on the numbering of sections or pages! unless it's clear that you've read all this.

Book Subject

The origins of Rome: Aeneas, Lavinium, and Alba Longa. Romulus founds Rome. Numa.

The reigns of Tullus Hostilius, Ancus Marcius, Tarquinius Priscus, Servius Tullius, and Tarquin the Proud. Brutus, the rape of Lucretia, and the expulsion of Tarquin.

Brutus, Valerius Publicola, and the beginnings of the Republic. (Very fragmentary)

Porsenna becomes Rome's enemy. Serious dissension between the patricians and the plebeians, mostly over debts, threatens Rome's survival. Establishment of the office of dictator. The Aventine secession of the plebs. The first tribunes of the plebs.

War with the Volsci. Treason of Coriolanus: Rome saved by his mother and his wife. Continuing political struggles between patricians and plebeians, with bouts of unity brought about by wars against the Etruscans, the Aequi, and the Sabines. The Laws of the Twelve Tables.

The establishment of the offices of consular tribune and of censor. Wars with the Etruscans, with Veii. The dictator Camillus celebrates a triumph. Description of a Roman triumph. War with the Faliscans.

War with the Gauls. The Capitol besieged. Marcus Manlius Capitolinus attempts to take power: he is thwarted and killed. Camillus dictator for several terms. The story of the Lacus Curtius. War with the Latins. Harshness of Manlius Torquatus.

Wars with the Samnites and with Capua. The tribunes annul the debts of the people.

War with Tarentum and Pyrrhus, king of Epirus: in a first stage, they are success­ful.

Defeat of Tarentum and Pyrrhus. The Romans intervene in the internal struggles of the Volsinii, on the side of the nobility.

First Punic War, fought mostly in Sicily and the islands. Duilius builds Rome's first navy. Rectitude and bravery of Regulus, hostage to the Carthaginians.

Rome is victorious in the First Punic War. Wars with the Gauls, the Faliscans, Liguria, Corsica, and Sardinia. Rome intervenes in Greek affairs.

Beginning of the Second Punic War: the Saguntines in Spain; the Gauls ally themselves with the Carthaginians.

Second Punic War: reverses. Fabius Maximus, elected dictator, opts for a passive policy in order to wear out the enemy; from which he acquires the name of The Delayer (Cunctator).

Second Punic War: the disaster at Cannae. The Romans success­fully besiege Syracuse. Death of Archimedes. Rome captures Capua: a turning-point.

Second Punic War: Scipio's success­ful campaigns in Spain.

Second Punic War: Scipio gains an ally in Masinissa, a North African, and together they bring the war to Africa. The Carthaginians defeated.

After the Punic war: war with Philip of Macedonia. The Carthaginians stir up the Gauls on Rome's other flank. Battle of Cynoscephalae. Philip defeated. Cato: his stance on the sumptuary laws, his dealings with Spain.

Rome becomes further embroiled in Greece. War with Antiochus. Death of Hannibal, an exile in Bithynia.

War against Perseus. Dealings with Rhodes, Cappadocia, Egypt. Campaign against Dalmatia.

Third Punic War. War against Corinth. Both end in total victory for the Romans. Carthage and Corinth destroyed.

(Very fragmentary) The Bacchanalian scandal. Wars in Spain: the rebellion of Viriathus. The demagoguery of Tiberius Gracchus. Wars against the Cimbri and the Marsians.

(Very fragmentary) Mithridatic Wars. Civil war: Marius and Cinna and the proscriptions.

Mithridatic War and Armenian campaigns. Pompey against the pirates.

The career of Pompey the Great and Mithridatic War, continued: war against the Asiatic Iberians, annexation of Syria and Phoenicia. The First Triumvirate (Crassus, Caesar, and Pompey).

Julius Caesar's first consulate. Exile of Cicero. Caesar against the Helvetii.

Gallic War, continued. Caesar crosses into Britain. Ptolemy expelled from Egypt and restored.

Gallic War, continued. Caesar crosses into Britain a second time. Crassus goes to war against the Parthians, is defeated and killed. Clodius and Milo. Beginning of the rift between Caesar and Pompey.

Caesar crosses the Rubicon: civil war. Caesar's war in Spain. Caesar and Pompey in Epirus and Illyria: battle of Dyrrhachium; battle of Pharsalus, in which Pompey is defeated.

Pompey flees to Egypt and dies there. Caesar in Egypt. Honors voted to Caesar in Rome. Caesar and Cleopatra.

Caesar defeats Scipio and conquers Numidia. Suicide of Cato of Utica. Caesar's triumphs celebrated in Rome. Ground broken for the Forum of Caesar. The Julian calendar reform. Caesar defeats the younger Gnaeus Pompey in Spain.

Caesar: personality cult leads to his murder. His funeral.

Character of Julius Caesar's nephew and heir Octavian. The Second Triumvirate (Octavian, Antony, Lepidus). Rift between Octavian and Antony. Cicero against Antony.

Octavian defeats Antony at Mutina. The Third Triumvirate (Octavian, Antony, Lepidus again).

Proscriptions under the Third Triumvirate. Battle of Philippi: Brutus and Cassius defeated.

More tangled relation­ships under the Third Triumvirate. Octavian and Antony make agreements with Sextus Pompey then turn on him and defeat him.

Octavian defeats Sextus Pompey and deprives Lepidus of his army and powers. Wars against the Parthians, in which Antony is defeated. Octavian conquers Pannonia. Rome acquires Mauretania.

With only two men left in the triumvirate, Octavian and Antony turn on each other: the latter is decisively defeated in the battle of Actium.

Antony and Cleopatra. Suicide of Antony. Octavian conquers Egypt. Octavian celebrates triumphs in Rome. Marcus Crassus conquers Moesia.

Octavian prepares to become the sole ruler of Rome.

Octavian, to be known henceforth as Augustus, officially becomes the sole ruler of Rome: the beginning of the imperial period. Organization of provincial administration. The rôle of Augustus's friend Agrippa. Major construction projects in Rome: dedication of the Temple of Apollo on the Palatine, the Saepta, the Pantheon, the Basilica of Neptune, the Baths of Agrippa. Wars in NW Spain and Arabia. Galatia falls to the Romans.

Augustus continues to consolidate his power. Roman rule extends to Rhaetia, Noricum, the Maritime Alps, and the Chersonesus.

Death of Drusus. Dedication of the Precinct of Livia, the Campus Agrippae, the Diribitorium, the Temple of Mars. Tiberius retires to Rhodes. Lucius and Gaius Caesar, the natural heirs of Augustus, both die young. Influence of Augustus's wife Livia. Institution of the corps of watchmen (vigiles).

Augustus encourages population growth by rewarding those who have more children, and penalizing those who have fewer and those who do not marry. Three legions lost in Germany: the Disaster of Varus. Dedication of the Temple of Concord and the Portico of Livia. Death of Augustus; his funeral.

Tiberius becomes emperor. His character. Cappadocia becomes Roman. Deaths of Drusus and Germanicus Caesar.

Rise and fall of Sejanus. Tiberius consolidates his hold on power despite revolts and scandals in his family.

Gaius Caesar becomes emperor; universally known as Caligula. His excesses.

Claudius becomes emperor and unexpectedly turns out to be a rather good ruler. Britain conquered.

Claudius' reign, continued. Claudius dies, poisoned by his wife Agrippina. Nero becomes emperor. Influence of the imperial freedmen.

Agrippina gets her comeuppance: Nero has his mother murdered. In Britain, the revolt of Boudicca (Buduica in the text). The Great Fire of Rome. Domitius Corbulo conquers Armenia. Nero's tutor Seneca plots to overthrow him, but the conspiracy is found out and Seneca is forced to commit suicide. Nero's excesses and artistic pretensions.

Nero's reign, continued: the rebellion of Vindex in Gaul, the revolt of the Jews put down by Vespasian. Nero overthrown and killed. The brief reigns of Galba and Otho.

The brief reign of Vitellius, consumed in civil war.

Vespasian becomes emperor. His son Titus captures Jerusalem and destroys the Temple. Vespasian subdues Egypt. Temple of Jupiter Capitoline rebuilt after its destruction by fire.

Upon the death of Vespasian, Titus becomes emperor for two years. The eruption of Vesuvius that buried Pompeii. A major fire in Rome. Titus's character.

The reign and character of Domitian, notoriously paranoid and cruel.

The brief reign of Nerva, then the longer reign of Trajan, who proves to be an excellent man (according to Dio and everyone else). The Dacian Wars end in the subjugation of Dacia. More moderately success­ful campaigns in Armenia and Parthia. A major earthquake in Antioch. The unsuccess­ful siege of Hatra. Trajan dies of uncertain causes.

Trajan's adoptive son Hadrian succeeds to the throne. His character and interests. Antinous. Final revolt of the Jews and destruction of Judaea. Hadrian's protracted last illness and death.

The reign of Antoninus Pius. (Very fragmentary)

Marcus Aurelius becomes emperor. The war against Vologaesus in Armenia. Roman bridge-building technique. (Very fragmentary)

Wars against the Marcomanni and the Iazyges. The revolt of Cassius in Syria ends in Cassius' death. Character of Marcus Aurelius.

The reign of Marcus Aurelius' son Commodus: his character and excesses. Here too the historians are unanimous: his cowardice, narcissism, lechery, cruelty. His gladiatorial pretensions. His assassination.

The brief reign of Pertinax, and his character. His assassination. The empire is auctioned off by the Praetorian guard to a very rich and foolish man: Didius Julianus his reign, even briefer, and his assassination.

Septimius Severus fights his way to the throne. His character. He puts down a rebellion by Pescennius Niger. Success­ful siege of Byzantium.

Severus defeats yet another pretender to the throne: Albinus. War in Caledonia, and second siege of Hatra in Mesopotamia: neither one particularly success­ful. Power of Plautianus, prefect of the city.

Eruption of Vesuvius. The downfall of Plautianus. The robber Bulla terrorizes central Italy. Severus campaigns personally in Caledonia, and dies at Eburacum in northern Britain.

The emperor Caracalla: his cruelty of character, his wars, his mass killings of Alexandrians.

Caracalla's Parthian campaign, during which Macrinus revolts, kills Caracalla, and seizes power. Macrinus' reign chiefly occupied with civil war. He is overthrown by a Syrian family that places one of its young members on the throne: Elagabalus.

Elagabalus (Heliogabalus): his character and excesses, mostly sexual. He is overthrown and killed, and the throne passes to Alexander Severus.

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Site updated: 14 May 22