Among Persius's satires were lines that, as Suetonius records, "even lashed Nero himself, who was then the reigning prince. The verse ran as follows:
but Cornutus altered it to:
in order that it might not be supposed that it was meant to apply to Nero."
Annaeus Cornutus was banished by Nero nevertheless—in 66 or 68 CE—for having indirectly disparaged the emperor's projected history of the Romans in heroic verse, after which time nothing more is heard of him.
Cornutus wrote a work on Rhetoric, and a commentary on the Categories of Aristotle, (πρὸς Ἁθηνόδωρον καὶ Ἀριστοτέλην) whose philosophy he attacked along with his fellow Stoic Athenodorus. He also wrote a work called On Properties (Περὶ ἐκτῶν).
The Heaven [ouranos], my boy, encompasses round about the earth and the sea and everything both on the earth and the sea. On this account it has acquired its appellation, since it is an "upper limit" [ouros anô] of all things and "marks of the bounds" [horizôn] of nature. Some say, however, that it is called Heaven [ouranos] from its "looking after" [ôrein] or "tending to" [ôreuein] things, that is, from its guarding them, from which also "doorkeeper" [thyrôros] and "watching carefully" [polyôrein] are named. Still others derive its etymology from its "being seen above" [horasthai anô]. Together with everything it encompasses, it is called the "world" [kosmos] from its being "so beautifully ordered" [diakekosmêsthai]The book continues in a similar vein, proceeding from such gods as Zeus, Hera, Cronus, and Poseidon, to the Furies, Fates, Muses, and Graces. The work is pervaded throughout with a strong undercurrent of Stoic Physics.
We are told that the world has a soul that preserves it called Zeus who dwells in Heaven whose substance is fiery. Zeus is the power that pervades everything, and who assigns Fate to each person. The gods have sent us Reason (Logos), which does not work evil, but which is part of the divine Reason of the universe:
"Ocean" is the Logos that "glides swiftly" and changes continuously, whereas Tethys is the stability of the qualities. For from their blending or mixing come about those things that exist; and nothing would exist if either one unmixed gained the upper hand over the other.
In 1891, Johannes Graeven proposed that an anonymous rhetorical treatise (the Anonymous Seguerianus) written in the 3rd century was written by a Cornutus. This attribution has not been generally accepted and, in any case, would refer to a later Cornutus.