Monumenta Germaniae Historica, auctorum antiquissimorum tomus XI, Chronicorum minorum saec. IV. V. VI. VII., vol. II, ed. Th. Mommsen, Berolini, 1894, 120- 161
– New edition: M. Klaassen, Cassiodorus’ Chronica, Text, Chronography and Sources, diss. University of Pennsilvania, Ann Arbor 2011 (http://www.scribd.com/doc/183929553/Cassiodorus-s-Chronica#scribd)
– English translation: B. Procee, 2014- http://www.roger-pearse.com/weblog/2014/12/29/cassiodorus-chronicle-now-online-in-english/
The appointment of Eutharic (Flavius Eutaricus Cillica Witheri filius) to the consulship of 519 was a moment of extraordinary importance for the entire political scene of what had been the old empire of Rome. At this moment, in 518, exactly twenty-five years had passed since another Goth had been named consul (Theoderic, no less, who was now king in Italy). Holding this post foretold an even greater political career for the Visigoth of Ostrogothic origins: Eutharic was a member of the royal line of the Amali, and he had now returned to the people of his ancestors and become son-in-law of the king after marrying his daughter Amalasuntha—in fact Theoderic’s only direct descendant. His colleague in the consulship was the Emperor of the East, Justin I (Flavius Iustinus Augustus), who had just become emperor in 518 at the age of nearly seventy. This colleague was illiterate—according to Procopius—and was known as a crude but clever soldier. Eutharic, then, being bound to the emperor by office and by his gentile name ‘Flavius,’ was effectively designated as the man who would succeed the sixty-four year old Theoderic at the head of the Gothic kingdom. Fate had other plans, however, and Eutharic died suddenly in 522.
Between 518 and 519, probably on the first of January, Cassiodorus recited one of his panegyrics in the Curia Libertatis. His choice of location was not coincidental, and in the speech he named Eutharic dedicatee of his Chronica, a work that ends with the consuls of 519. Yet in naming these two men he reversed their rank, violating standard procedure by identifying Eutharic before the Emperor. The work itself consists of a list of consuls from 509 BC to 519 AD, a Bruto et Tarquinio usque ad consulatum vestrum, sicut ex Tito Livio et Aufidio Basso et paschali clarorum virorum auctoritate firmato collegimus, preceded by a very brief description of the eras from the beginning of the world to the establishment of the Republic, encompassing a grand total of 5721 years: totus ordo saeculorum usque ad consulatum vestrum colligitur annis VDCCXXI.
Cassiodorus utilized a range of sources for his Chronica—chiefly Eusebius-Jerome, but also Livy, Aufidius Bassus, and other chronicles and lists of consuls. Careful revision minimized the errors present in his work, but he also abridged many of the notes recording significant events under the lemma of each year. He tends especially to omit religious or ecclesiastical events—a logical choice given the fraught relationships between Arians and Catholics and between West and East that could make such reports dangerous to the chronicler. He does, however, include a notable tribute to Ambrose. Reduction is less common in the relating of political affairs, and he even expands some notes with details concerning the city of Rome or the Goths; when doing this, he presents events—for the obvious reasons—in whatever form was most favorable to the Germans: in recounting the sack of Rome in 410 he emphasizes that the Visigoths conducted themselves respectably (Roma a Gothis Halarico duce capta est, ubi clementer usi victoria sunt); the Battle of Adrianople (378) is cast as a show of Gothic power and the inadequacy of Valens, who sought refuge in a house where he ended up being killed; the Battle of Pollentia (402) is a victory of the Visigoths over Stilico, rather than vice versa; and Aetius’s victory over the Huns at the Battle of the Catalaunian Plains (451) is attributed to the strength of the Visigothic troops of Theoderic I (he died in the battle), who were allied with the Romans. Special emphasis is given to the affairs of Theoderic and his Ostrogoths: we are told that in 489 felicissimus atque fortissimus dn. rex Theodericus intravit Italiam, and from this point read a list of victories and feasts that unite the entire population of Italy, especially Rome and Ravenna; added details are likewise given to 500, the year in which the king visited Rome.
The work is transmitted by two manuscripts, one from Paris (10th c.) and another from Monaco (11th c.). Affinities between them suggest that the codices share a common ancestor not much older than they are: Mommsen thought that they were both copied from a manuscript at Reichenau that is now lost to us, but that may have been the one on which Giovanni Cuspiniano (Spiesshaimer) based his De consulibus Romanorum Commentarij, ex optimis vetustissimisque authoribus collecti. … cum eiusdem Cuspiniani eruditissimis Scholijs. Magni Aurelii Cassiodori Senatoris Chronicon, sive de Consulibus Romanorum Libellus, passim Cuspiniani Commentarijs insertus (1553, Basel). [G. Polara; tr. C. L. Caterine].