1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Cordus, Aulus Cremutius

CORDUS, AULUS CREMUTIUS, Roman historian of the later Augustan age. He was the author of a history (perhaps called Annales) of the events of the civil wars and the reign of Augustus, embracing the period from at least 43–18 B.C. In A.D. 25 he was brought to trial for having eulogized Brutus and spoken of Cassius as the last of the Romans. His real offence was a witticism at the expense of Sejanus, who put up two of his creatures to accuse him in the senate. Seeing that nothing could save him, Cordus starved himself to death. A decree of the senate ordered that his works should be confiscated and burned by the aediles. Some copies, however, were saved by the efforts of Cordus’s daughter Marcia, and after the death of Tiberius the work was published at the express wish of Caligula. It is impossible to form an opinion of it from the scanty fragments (H. Peter, Historicorum Romanorum Fragmenta, 1883). According to ancient authorities, the writer was very outspoken in his denunciations, and his relatives considered it necessary to strike out the most offensive passages of the work before it was widely circulated (Quintilian, Instit. x. 1, 104). Two passages in Pliny (Nat. Hist. x. 74 [37], xvi. 108 [45]) seem to refer to a work of a different nature from the history—perhaps a treatise on Admiranda or remarkable things.

See Tacitus, Annals, iv. 34, 35; Suetonius, Tiberius, 61, Caligula, 16; Seneca, Suasoriae, vii., esp. the Consolatio to Cordus’s daughter Marcia; Dio Cassius lvii. 24. There are monographs by J. Held (1841) and C. Rathlef (1860). Also H. Peter, Die geschichtliche Literatur über die römische Kaiserzeit (1897); Teuffel-Schwabe, Hist. of Roman Lit., Eng. trans., 277, 1.