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Cassiodorus


Flavius Magnus Aurelius Cassiodorus Senator (c. 485 – c. 585), commonly known as Cassiodorus, was a Roman statesman and writer serving in the administration of Theoderic the Great, king of the Ostrogoths. Senator was part of his surname, not his rank.

Cassiodorus was born at Scylletium, near Catanzaro in Calabria, Italy. He began his career as councillor to his father, the governor of Sicily. While still young, he made a name for himself as learned in the ways of law. During his working life he worked as quaestor sacri palatii c. 507–511, as a consul in 514, then as magister officiorum under Theoderic, and later under the regency for Theoderic's young successor, Athalaric. Cassiodorus kept copious records and letterbooks concerning public affairs. At the Gothic court his literary skill, which seems mannered and rhetorical to modern readers, was so esteemed that when in Ravenna he was often entrusted with drafting significant public documents. His culminating appointment was as praetorian prefect for Italy, effectively the prime ministership of the Ostrogothic civil government and a high honor to finish any career. Cassiodorus also collaborated with Pope Agapetus I in establishing a library of Greek and Latin texts which were intended to support a Christian school in Rome.

James O'Donnell notes:

[I]t is almost indisputable that he accepted advancement in 523 as the immediate successor of Boethius, who was then falling from grace after less than a year as magister officiorum, and who was sent to prison and later executed. In addition, Boethius' father-in-law (and step-father) Symmachus, by this time a distinguished elder statesman, followed Boethius to the block within a year. All this was a result of the worsening split between the ancient senatorial aristocracy centered in Rome and the adherents of Gothic rule at Ravenna. But to read Cassiodorus' Variae one would never suspect such goings-on.


Political offices
Preceded by
Flavius Probus,
Flavius Taurus Clementinus Armonius Clementinus
Consul of the Roman Empire
514
Succeeded by
Flavius Florentius,
Procopius Anthemius

"I was moved by divine love to devise for you, with God's help, these introductory books to take the place of a teacher. Through them I believe that both the textual sequence of Holy Scripture and also a compact account of secular letters may, with God's grace, be revealed."
References
Sources
  • Laudes (very fragmentary published panegyrics on public occasions)
  • Chronica, (ending at 519) uniting all world history in one sequence of rulers, a union of Goth and Roman antecedents, flattering Goth sensibilities as the sequence neared the date of composition
  • Gothic History (526–533), a lengthy and multi-volume work, survives only in Jordanes' abridgment Getica, which must be considered a separate work and is the only surviving ancient work about the Goths' early history
  • Variae epistolae (537), Theoderic's state papers. Editio princeps by M. Accurius (1533). English translations by Thomas Hodgkin The Letters of Cassiodorus (1886); S.J.B. Barnish Cassiodorus: Variae (Liverpool: University Press, 1992)
  • Expositio psalmorum (Exposition of the Psalms)
  • De anima ("On the Soul") (540)
  • Institutiones Divinarum et Saecularium Litterarum (543–555)
  • De Artibus ac Disciplinis Liberalium Litterarum ("On the Liberal Arts")
  • Codex Grandior (a version of the Bible)
  • Cassiodorus, Flavius Magnus Aurelius (780). "Institutiones divinarum et saecularium litterarum". Bamberg, Staatsbibliothek, Msc.Patr. 61, fol. 1v-67v. Southern Italy. 
  • Cassiodorus, Flavius Magnus Aurelius (1167). "Gesta Theodorici". Leiden, Universiteitsbibliotheek, Ms. vul. 46. Fulda. 
  • James J. O'Donnell (1979). (Berkeley: University of California Press). On-line e-text.
  • James J. O'Donnell (1969). Cassiodorus University of California Press, Berkeley, CA.
  • S. J. Barnish, Roman Responses to an Unstable World: Cassiodorus' Variae in Context in: Vivarium in Context 7-22 (Centre Leonard Boyle: Vicenza 2008).
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