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CASSIOPEIA—CASSITERITE

attached himself to Theodoric, by whom he was appointed corrector (governor) of Bruttii and Lucania, and praefectus praetorio. The son at an early age became consiliarius (legal assessor) to his father, and (probably in 507) quaestor, an official whose chief duty at that time consisted in acting as the mouthpiece of the ruler, and drafting his dispatches. In 514 he was ordinary consul, and at a later date possibly corrector of his native province. At the death of Theodoric (526) he held the office of magister officiorum (chief of the civil service). Under Athalaric he was praefectus praetorio, a post which he retained till about 540, after the triumphal entry of Belisarius into Ravenna, when he retired from public life. With the object of providing for the transmission of divine and human knowledge to later ages, and of securing it against the tide of barbarism which threatened to sweep it away, he founded two monasteries—Vivarium and Castellum—in his ancestral domains at Squillace (others identify the two monasteries). The special duty which he enjoined upon the inmates was the acquisition of knowledge, both sacred and profane, the latter, however, being subordinated to the former. He also collected and emended valuable MSS., which his monks were instructed to copy, and superintended the translation of various Greek works into Latin. He further amused himself with making scientific toys, such as sun-dials and water-clocks. As he is stated to have written one of his treatises at the age of ninety-three, he must have lived till after 580. Whether he belonged to the Benedictine order is uncertain.

The writings of Cassiodorus evince great erudition, ingenuity and labour, but are disfigured by incorrectness and an affected artificiality, and his Latin partakes much of the corruptions of the age. His works are (1) historical and political, (2) theological and grammatical.

1. (a) Variae, the most important of all his writings, in twelve books, published in 537. They contain the decrees of Theodoric and his successors Amalasuntha, Theodahad and Witigis; the regulations of the chief offices of state; the edicts published by Cassiodorus himself when praefectus praetorio. It is the best source of our knowledge of the Ostrogothic kingdom in Italy (ed. T. Mommsen in Monumenta Germaniae Historica: Auctores Antiquissimi, xii., 1894; condensed English translation by T. Hodgkin, 1886).

(b) Chronica, written at the request of Theodoric's son-in-law Eutharic, during whose consulship (519) it was published. It is a dry and inaccurate compilation from various sources, unduly partial to the Goths (ed. T. Mommsen in Mon. Germ. Hist.: Auct. Ant. xi. pt. i., 1893).

(c) Panegyrics on Gothic kings and queens (fragments ed. L. Traube in Mon. Germ. Hist.: Auct. Ant. xii.).

2. (a) De Anima, a discussion on the nature of the soul, at the conclusion of which the author deplores the quarrel between two such great peoples as the Goths and Romans. It seems to have been published with the last part of the Variae.

(b) Institutiones divinarun et humanarum litterarum, an encyclopedia of sacred and profane literature for the monks, and a sketch of the seven liberal arts. It further contains instructions for using the library, and precepts for daily life.

(c) A commentary on the Psalms and short notes (complexiones) on the Pauline epistles, the Acts, and the Apocalypse.

(d) De Orthographia, a compilation made by the author in his ninety-third year from the works of twelve grammarians, ending with his contemporary Priscian (ed. H. Keil, Grammatici Latini, vii.).

The Latin translations of the Antiquities of Josephus and of the ecclesiastical histories of Theodoret, Sozomen and Socrates, under the title of Historia Tripartita (embracing the years 306–439), were carried out under his supervision.

Of his lost works the most important was the Historia Gothorum, written with the object of glorifying the Gothic royal house and proving that the Goths and Romans had long been connected by ties of friendship. It was published during the reign of Athalaric, and appears to have brought the history down to the death of Theodoric. His chief authority for Gothic history and legend was Ablavius (Ablabius). The work is only known to us in the meagre abridgment of Jordanes (ed. T. Mommsen, 1882).

Complete Works.—Editio princeps, by G. Fornerius (Paris, 1579); J. Garet (Rouen, 1679; Venice, 1729), reprinted in J. P. Migne, Patrologia Latina, lxix., lxx. On Cassiodorus generally, see Anecdoton Holderi, excerpts from a treatise of Cassiodorus, edited by H. Usener (Bonn, 1877), which throws light on questions connected with his biography; T. Mommsen, preface to his edition of the Variae; monographs by A. Thorbecke (Heidelberg, 1867) and A. Franz (Breslau, 1872); T. Hodgkin, Italy and her Invaders, iii. p. 280, iv. p. 348; A. Ebert. Allgemeine Geschichte der Litteratur des Mittelalters, i.; Teuffel-Schwabe, Hist. of Roman Literature (Eng. trans.), § 483; G. A. Simcox, Hist. of Latin Literature (1884); W. Ramsay in Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography; J. B. Bury's edition of Gibbon's Decline and Fall, iv. 180, 522; R. W. Church in the Church Quarterly Review, x. (1880); J. E. Sandys in Hist. of Classical Scholarship (2nd ed., 1906); A. Olleris. Cassiodore, conservateur des livres de l'antiquité latine (Paris, 1891); G. Minasi, M. A. Cassiodoro. . .ricerche storico-critiche (Naples, 1895); and C. Cipolla in Memorie della r. Accademia delle scienze di Torino (2nd ser. xliii. pt. 2, 1893); L. M. Hartmann in Pauly-Wissowa's Realencyclopädie, iii. pt. 2 (1899), with note on the musical section of Cassiodorus' Institutiones by C. von Jan.


CASSIOPEIA, in Greek mythology, the wife of Cepheus, and mother of Andromeda; in astronomy, a constellation of the northern hemisphere, mentioned by Eudoxus (4th century B.C.) and Aratus (3rd century B.C.). Ptolemy catalogued 13 stars in this constellation, Tycho Brahe 46, and Hevelius 37. Its most interesting stars are:—Nova Cassiopeiae, a “new” star, which burst out with extraordinary brilliancy in 1572, when it was observed by Tycho Brahe, but gradually diminished in brightness, ultimately vanishing in about eighteen months; α-Cassiopeiae and R-Cassiopeiae are variable stars, the former irregular, the latter having a long period; η-Cassiopeiae, a binary star, having components of magnitudes 3 1/2 and 7 1/2; σ-Cassiopeiae, a double star, one being white and of magnitude 5, the other blue and of magnitude 7 1/2.


CASSITERIDES (from the Gr. κασσίτερος, tin, i.e. “Tin-islands”), in ancient geography the name of islands regarded as being situated somewhere near the west coasts of Europe. Herodotus (430 B.C.) had dimly heard of them. Later writers, Posidonius, Diodorus, Strabo and others, call them smallish islands off (Strabo says, some way off) the north-west coast of Spain, which contained tin mines, or, as Strabo says, tin and lead mines—though a passage in Diodorus derives the name rather from their nearness to the tin districts of north-west Spain. While geographical knowledge of the west was still scanty and the secrets of the tin-trade were still successfully guarded by the seamen of Gades and others who dealt in the metal, the Greeks knew only that tin came to them by sea from the far west, and the idea of tin-producing islands easily arose. Later, when the west was better explored, it was found that tin actually came from two regions, north-west Spain and Cornwall. Neither of these could be called “small islands” or described as off the north-west coast of Spain, and so the Cassiterides were not identified with either by the Greek and Roman geographers. Instead, they became a third, ill-understood source of tin, conceived of as distinct from Spain or Britain. Modern writers have perpetuated the error that the Cassiterides were definite spots, and have made many attempts to identify them. Small islands off the coast of north-west Spain, the headlands of that same coast, the Scillies, Cornwall, the British Isles as a whole, have all in turn been suggested. But none suits the conditions. Neither the Spanish islands nor the Scillies contain tin, at least in serious quantities. Neither Britain nor Spain can be called “small islands off the north-west of Spain.” It seems most probable, therefore, that the name Cassiterides represents the first vague knowledge of the Greeks that tin was found overseas somewhere in or off western Europe.

Authorities.—Herodotus iii. 115; Diodorus v. 21, 22, 38; Strabo ii. 5, iii. 2, 5, v. 11; Pliny, Nat. Hist. iv. 119, vii. 197, xxxiv. 156-158, are the chief references in ancient literature. T. R. Holmes, Ancient Britain (1907), appendix, identifies the Cassiterides with the British Isles.  (F. J. H.) 


CASSITERITE (from the Gr. κασσίτερος, tin), the mineralogical name for tin-stone, the common ore of tin. It consists of tin dioxide, or stannic oxide (SnO2), and crystallizes in the tetragonal system. The crystals are usually 4-sided or 8-sided prisms, striated vertically, and terminated by pyramids (fig. 1). Twins, with characteristic re-entrant angles, such as figs. 2 and 3, are common. Certain slender prismatic crystals, with an acute 8-sided pyramid, are known in Cornwall as “sparable tin,” in allusion to their resemblance to sparable nails, whilst very slender crystals are termed needle-tin. Occasionally the mineral occurs in ibrous forms, which pass under the name of