Vol. 1: A seculo VI usque ad 803
Between 537 and 538 according to Mommsen; between 536 and 537 according to Tanzi

Cassiodorus, as praetorian prefect, sends Lawrence to Istria to examine the harvests and prepare a report of the yields in order for the taxes to be determined.

Cassiodorus, Variae, liber XII, epistola 23; original autograph is lost; numerous manuscript copies exist, see edition and this link.
The edition is based on the following manuscript: Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, ms. lat. 2186: Cassiodorus, Variae II, fol. 43r; early 13th-century copy, digitized and available online (B).
Theodor Mommsen (ed.), Cassiodori senatoris Variae, Monumenta Germaniae historica, Scriptores, Auctores antiquissimi 12 (Berlin 1894), p. 379.

Laurentio viro experientissimo.

Senator praefectus praetorio.

Deliberacio iudicis probatos viros debet publicis actionibus adhibere, ut facile possit impleri quod sub sterilitate temporis videtur inquiri.

In habundancia rerum quaelibet se potest expedire persona: electis opus est militibus, cum fuerit necessitatis impulsus.

Atque ideo experientiam tuam frequentibus nobisque tali devocione gratissimam ad Histriam provinciam iubemus excurrere, ut in tot solidos vini, olei vel tritici species de tributario solido debeas procurare.

In aliis vero tot solidis, quos a nostro archario percepisti, tam a negotiatoribus quam a possessoribus emere maturabis, sicut te a numerariis instruxit porrecta noticia.

Quapropter erige nunc animos ad parendum, qui tantis excubiis indiscreta sorte placuisti.

Ammoneat te prioris conversacionis exemplum, quia nimis grave est emeritum delinquere, quem tyronem nullatenus constat errasse.

Qualis autem supra dictarum specierum ubertas se optata laxaverit, veraci nobis, ut de te credimus, relacione significa, ut nos habito modo constituere debeamus quod nec provinciales ledat nec publicas gravare possit expensas.


Cassiodorus senator, praetorian prefect, to Laurentius, vir experientissimus.
Anyone can discharge the duties of the Commissariat in a time of abundance. It is a mark of our high appreciation of your experience and efficiency, that we select you for this service in a time of scarcity. We therefore direct you to repair to the Province of Istria, there to collect stores of wine, oil, and corn, equivalent to ... solidi, due from the Province for land-tax, and with ... solidi which you have received from our Treasurer to buy these products either from the merchants or from the peasants directly, according to the information prepared for you by the Cashiers.
Raise your spirits for this duty, and discharge it in a manner worthy of your past reputation. Make to us a faithful report of the yield of the coming harvest, under these three heads, that we may fix a tariff of prices which shall be neither burdensome to the Provincials nor injurious to the public service.

[Thomas Hodgkin (trans.), The Letters of Cassiodorus, Being a Condensed Translation of the Variae epistolae of Magnus Aurelius Cassiodorus Senator (London 1886), p. 515]

Selected Bibliography
Robert Matijašić, “Kasiodorova pisma kao izvor za poznavanje kasnoantičke povijesti Istre” [Cassiodorus’ Letters as a Source for the Knowledge of Late Antique History of Istria], Zgodovinski časopis 42/3 (1988): 363–71.
How to Cite
First citation: Josip Banic (ed.), Fontes Istrie medievalis, vol. 1: A seculo VI usque ad 803, doc. 537_CV3, (last access: date).
Subsequent citations: FIM, 1: doc. 537_CV3
Image Source and Info

The images were downloaded from the official webpage of the Bibliothèque nationale de France.

The editor has subsequently inserted a red arrow on the folio to mark the parts of the manuscript that refer to this particular letter that is hereby edited.