CASSIODORUS


Flavius Magnus Aurelius Cassiodorus was a Roman statesman, who lived c. 487-583 AD. He was Latin secretary to Theodoric, and corresponded with all great personages of the day (Variae epistulae). Later he became a monk in the monastery at Vivarium in Bruttium. The copying by monks of classical texts is due to Cassiodorus above any other man. A large part of the Variae was translated by S.J.B. Barnish (Liverpool University Press 1992), but unfortunately not the text below, about the duties of the Comes Portus, who had replaced the procurator in charge of the harbours during the fourth century (see Meiggs, 99).


Variae epistulae VII, 9
Formula comitivae portus urbis Romae (Formula of the Count of Portus)
[537-8 AD] 1. Deliciosa magis quam laboriosa militia est in Portu Romano comitivae gerere dignitatem. illic enim copiosus navium prospectatur adventus: illic veligerum mare peregrinos populos cum diversa provinciarum merce transmittit et inter tot spectacula dulcium rerum commodum tuum est venientes evasisse periculum. ...
2. Bene inventa dignitas, quae copias videtur ornare Romanas. ... duo quippe Tiberini alvei meatus ornatissimas civitates tamquam duo lumina susceperunt, ...
3. Tu copiam facis, dum ingredientes iuste tractaveris. avara manus portum claudit ... quapropter adversus ibi ventus est immoderata praesumptio: ...
4. ... quocirca per indictionem illam comitivae Portus te honore decoramus, ut sicut tibi dignitas dulces delicias amministrat, ita et tu honori opinionem laudabilem derelinquas.
[537-8 AD] 1. It is a service of pleasure rather than of toil to hold the dignity of Comes in the harbour of the City of Rome, to look forth upon the wide sail-traversed main, to see the commerce of all the provinces tending towards Rome, and to welcome travellers arriving with the joy of ended peril. ...
2. Excellent thought of the men of old to provide two channels by which strangers might enter the Tiber, ...and to adorn them with those two stately cities [Portus and Ostia], which shine like lights upon the watery way! ...
3. Do you therefore, by your fair administration, make it easy for strangers to enter. Do not grasp at more than the lawful dues; for the greedy hand closes a harbour, ...and extortion is as much dreaded by mariners as adverse winds. ...
4. ... Receive then this Indiction the Comitiva Portus; enjoy the pleasures of the office, and lay it down with increased reputation.

Translation: Hodgkin 1886.