Cassius Longinus Biography


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

The learned contemporaries of Cassius Longinus (lahn-JI-nuhs) included his teacher Origen (c. 185-c. 254), his student Porphyry (c. 234-c. 305), and his fellow philosopher, the great neo-Platonist Plotinus (205-270). Born in Athens, Cassius Longinus studied philosophy at Alexandria in Egypt, where he won Plotinus’s respect as a philologist but not as a philosopher. He returned to his birthplace to teach rhetoric and literary criticism and achieved repute as kritikotatos (most discerning critic). In his mid-fifties, about 268, he joined the royal court of Zenobia and Odenathus in Palmyra as tutor and political counsel. When Emperor Aurelian overcame the resistance of Zenobia to Roman rule, Cassius Longinus, subject to proscription, was executed.{$S[A]Cassius Longinus;Longinus, Cassius}

Of the principal works completed by Cassius Longinus, only fragments are extant, the most substantial of these being twenty pages of his Techne rhetorike (rhetorical art), a standard handbook treating in standard fashion the subjects of Aristotelian rhetoric: proofs, lexis, diegesis, exordia, perorations, allegory, and the like. Among the opening remarks of his Ta prolegomena eis to tou Hephaestionos encheiridion (introduction to Hephaestion’s Encheiridion), he writes: “The father of meter is rhythm and God; for meter takes its origin from rhythm, and God articulates its measure.” Porphyry, in his biography of Plotinus, quotes a one-page...

(The entire section is 423 words.)


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Berkowitz, Luci, and Karl A. Squitier. Thesaurus Linguae Graecae: Canon of Greek Authors and Works. 3d ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990. The extant canon of Cassius Longinus’s work is listed.

Gibbon, Edward. The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Edited by J. B. Bury. New York: Modern Library, 1995. Originally published from 1776 to 1788. Recounts Cassius Longinus’s association with Zenobia.

Grube, G. M. A. The Greek and Roman Critics. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1965. A representative argument identifying Cassius Longinus as the author of On the Sublime.

Philostratus and Eunapius. The Lives of the Sophists. Translated by Wilmer Cave Wright. 1921. Reprint. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1989. Contains biographical information about Cassius Longinus.

Plotinus. The Enneads: A New, Definitive Edition with Comparisons to Other Translations on Hundreds of Key Passages. Translated by Stephen Mackenna. Burdett, N.Y.: Paul Brunton Philosophic Foundation/Larson, 1992. Translations of the letter to Porphyry and the preface to Peri telous are available here.

Russell, D. A. Criticism in Antiquity. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981. Russell argues that Cassius Longinus is not the author of On the Sublime.