or Dion Cassius, an ancient historian, known also by the surnames of Cocceius or Cocceianus, was born at Nicsea, a city of Bithyuia, and flourished in the third century. His father Aproniatius, a man of consular dignity, was governor of Dalmatia, and some time after proconsul of Cilicia, under the emperors Trajan and Adrian. Dio was with his father in Cilicia; and from thence went to Rome, where he distinguished himself by public pleadings. From the reign of Commodus he was a senator of Rome; was made prtetor of the city under Pertinax; and raised at length to the consulship, which he held twice, and exercised the second time, jointly with the emperor Alexander Severus. He had passed through several great employments under the preceding emperors. Macrinus had made him governor of Pergamus and Smyrna; he commanded some time in Africa; and afterwards had the administration of Austria and Hungary, then called Pannonia, committed to him. He undertook the task of writing history, as he informs us himself, because he was admonished and commanded to do it by a vision from heaven; and he tells us also, that he spent ten years in collecting materials for it, and twelve more in composing it. His history began from the building of Rome, and proceeded to the reign of Alexander Severus. It was divided into So books, or eight decades; many of which are not now extant. The first 34 books are lost, with part of the 35th. The 25 following are preserved intire; but instead of the last 20, of which nothing more than fragments remain, we have only the epitome, which Xiphtliuus, a monk of | Coustantinople, has given of them. Photius observes, that he wrote his Roman history, as others had also done, not from the foundation of Rome only, but from the descent of Æneas into Italy; which he continued to the year of Home 982, and of Christ 228, when, as we have observed, he was consul a second time with the emperor Alexander Severus. What we now have of it, begins with the expedition of Lucullus against Mithridates king of Pontus, about the year of Rome 684, and ends with the death of the emperor Claudius about the year 806.

Though all that is lost of this historian is much to be regretted, yet that is most so which contains the history of the forty last years; for within this period he was an eyewitness of all that passed, and a principal actor in a great part. Before the reign of Commodus, he could relate nothing but what he had from the testimony of others; after that, every thing fell under his own cognizance; and a man of his quality, who had spent his life in the management of great affairs, and had read men as well as books, must have had many advantages in delineating the history of his own times; and it is even now allowed, that no man has revealed more of those state-secrets, which Tacitus styles arcana imperii, and of which he makes so high a mystery. He is also very exact and full in his descriptions, in describing the order of the comitia, the establishing of magistrates, &c. and, as to what relates to the apotheosis, or consecration of emperors, perhaps he is the only writer who has given us a good account of it, if we except Ilerodian, who yet seemh to have been greatly indebted to him. Besides his descriptions, there are several of his speeches, which have been highly admired; those particularly of Maecenas and Agrippa, upon the question, whether Augustus should resign the empire or no. Yet he has been exceedingly blamed for his partiality, which to some has appeared so great, as almost to invalidate the credit of his whole history; of those parts at least, where he can be supposed to have been the least interested. The instances alleged are his partiality for Ciesar against Pompey, for Antony against Cicero, and his strong prejudices against Seneca. “The obvious cause of the prejudice which Dio had conceived against Cicero,” Dr. Middleton supposes “to have been his envy to a man who for arts and eloquence was thought to eclipse the fame of Greece-; 11 but he adds another reason, not less probable, deducible from | Dio’s character and principles, which were wholly opposite to those of Cicero.” For Dio,“as he says,” flourished under the most tyrannical of the emperors, by whom he was advanced to great dignity; and, being the creature of despotic power, thought it a proper compliment to it, to depreciate a name so highly revered for its patriotism, and whose writings tended to revive that ancient zeal and spirit of liberty for which the people of Rome were once so celebrated: for we find him taking all occasions in his history, to prefer an absolute and monarchical government to a free and democratical one, as the most beneficial to the Roman state."

Dio obtained leave of the emperor Severus to retire to Nicaea, where he spent the latter part of his life. He is supposed to have been about seventy years old when he died; although the year of his death is not certainly known. His History was first printed at Paris, 1548, fol. by Robert Stephens, with only the Greek; but has been reprinted since with a Latin translation by Leunclavius, Hanov. 1592, fol. The best edition, however, is that of Reimarus, Hamburgh, 1750, 2 vols. fol. which was begun by Fabricius. Photius ranks the style of Dio Cassius amongst the most elevated. Dio seems, he says, to have imitated Thucyclicles, whom he follows, especially in his narratives and orations; but he has this advantage over him, that he cannot be reproached with obscurity. Besides his History, Suidas ascribes to him some other compositions; as, 1. “The Life of the Philosopher Arrianus.” 2. “The Actions of Trajan” and 3. certain “Itineraries.Raphael Volaterranus makes him also the author of three books, entitled “De Principe,” and some small treatises of morality. His History, as abridged by Xiphilinus, was translated into English by Manning, and published at London, 1704, 2 vols. 8vo. 1


Fabric. Bib!. Gra-c. —Vossius Hist. Grace. Middleton’s preface to the Life of Cicero. Blount’s Ceusura. —Saxii Onomast.