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Ca'ssius Parmensis

so called, it would appear, from Parma, his birth-place, is in most works upon Roman literature styled C. Cassius Severus Parmensis, but erroneously, since there is no authority whatsoever for assigning the praenomen of Caius or the cognomen of Severus to this writer.


Works

Horace Serm. 1.10. 61), when censuring careless and rapid compositions, illustrates his observations, by referring to a Cassius Etruscus, whom he compares to a river in flood rolling down a turbid torrent, and adds, that the story ran that this poet, his works, and book-boxes, were all consigned together to the flames. Here Acro, Porphyrio, and the Scholiast of Cruquius agree in expressly declaring that the person spoken of is Cassius Parmensis, and the latter makes mention of a tragedy by him, called Thyestes, as still extant.

Again, Horace (Hor. Ep. 1.4. 3), when writing to Albius, who is generally believed to be Tibullus, questions him with regard to his occupations, and asks whether he is writing anything " quod Cassii Parmensis opuscula vincat." Here the old commentators quoted above again agree in asserting that this Cassius served as tribune of the soldiers in the army of Brutus and Cassius, that he returned to Athens after their defeat, that L. Varus was despatched by Augustus to put him to death, and, after executing the order, carried off his port-folio; whence a report became current, that the Thyestes published by Varus was really the work of Cassius stolen and appropriated by his executioner. To this narrative Acro and the Scholiast of Cruquius add, that he composed in various styles, and that his elegies and epigrams were especially admired.

These two passages and the annotations upon them have been the foundation of a lengthened controversy, in which almost all writers upon Roman literature have taken part. A variety of opinions have been expressed and hypotheses propounded, many of them supported with great learning and skill. A full account of these will be found in the essay of Weichert "De Lucii Varii et Cassii Parmensis Vita et Carminibus," (Grimae, 1836,) who, after patient examination, has shewn by many arguments, that the following conclusions are the most probable which the amount and nature of the evidence at our disposal will enable us to form:

1. Cassius Etruscus and Cassius Parmensis were two separate personages. It is the intention of Horace to hold up the first to ridicule, while his words imply a compliment to the second.

2. Cassius Parmensis was one of the conspirators who plotted the death of Caesar. He took an active part in the war against the triumvirs, and, after the defeat and death of Brutus and Cassius, carried over the fleet which he commanded to Sicily, and joined Sextus Pompeius, with whom he seems to have remained up to the period of the great and decisive sea-fight between Mylae and Naulochus. He then surrendered himself to Antonius, whose fortunes he followed until after the battle of Actium, when he returned to Athens, and was there put to death by the command of Octavianus. These facts are fully established by the testimony of Appian (App. BC 5.2) and of Valerius Maximus (i. 7.7), who tells the tale of the vision by which Cassius was forewarned of his approaching fate, and of Velleius (2.88), who distinctly states, that as Trebonius was the first, so Cassius Parmensis was the last, of the murderers of Caesar who perished by a violent end. The death of Cassius probably took place about B. C. 30; and this fact alone is sufficient to prove that Cassius Parmensis and Cassius Etruscus were different persons; the former had held a high command in the struggle in which Horace had been himself engaged, and had perished but a few years before the publication of the epistles; the former is spoken of as one who had been long dead, and almost if not altogether forgotten.

3. We have seen that two of the Scholiasts on Horace represent that Cassius composed in different styles. We have reason to believe that he wrote tragedies, that the names of two of his pieces were Thyestes and Brutus, and that a line of the latter has been preserved by Varro (L. L. 6.7,ed. Mülller). In like manner, a single line of one of his epigrams is quoted by Quintilian (5.2.24), and a single sentence from an abusive letter addressed to Octavianus is to be found in Suetonius (Suet. Aug. 4); in addition to which we hear from Pliny of an epistle to Antonius. (Plin. Nat. 31.8.) Many persons, and among these Drumann, believe that the letter to be found in Cicero (Cic. Fam. 12.13) is from the pen of Cassius Parmensis, and strong arguments may be adduced in support of this opinion; but, on the whole, we are led to conclude from its tone, that it proceeded from some person younger and holding a less distinguished position than Cassius Parmensis at that time occupied.


Orpheus

We have a little poem in hexameters, entitled Orpheus, in which it is set forth, that the Thracian bard, although at first an object of ridicule to his contemporaries, by assiduous study and undeviating perseverance, at length acquired that heavenly skill by which he was enabled to charm the ears of listening rocks and woods, and draw them in his train.

Editions

These verses were first published by Achilles Statius in his edition of Suetonius, de Clar. Rhetor, and we are there told by the editor that they were found among the Bruttii and communicated to him by a very learned youth, Suetonius Quadrimanus; they were published again by Fabricius in his notes to Senec. Herc. Oet. 1034, as having been discovered anew at Florence by Petrus Victorius, and are to be found in Burmann's Anthologia (1.112, or n. 112, ed. Meyer), in Wernsdorf's Poetae Latini Minores (vol. ii. p. 310), and many other collections.

An edition in a separate form was printed at Frankfort, 1585, 8vo., and two years afterwards " Cassius of Parma his Orpheus with Nathan Chitraeus his commentarie abridged into short notes translated by Roger Rawlins of Lincoln's Inn, 8vo. Lond. 1587."

written by Antonius Thylesius

Various conflicting opinions were long entertained with regard to the author of this piece, which commonly bears prefixed the name of Cassius Parmensis or Cassius Severus, but is now proved to have been written by Antonius Thylesius, a native of Cosenza in Calabria, a distinguished poet of the sixteenth century.

Editions of Thylesius

See the edition of his works by F. Daniele, Naples, 1762, and the authorities quoted by Meyer in his edition of the Anthologia.

[W.R]

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