[St. Pachomius Library]


VI Century
Born c. 490, Flavius Magnus Aurelius Cassiodorus held many posts in the Roman government before turning his family mansion into a monastery c. 540. Under Theodoric, he handled much official correspondence and wrote a history of the world from Adam to 519 that also demonstrated Theodoric's Roman ancestry. Vivarium, Cassiodorus' monastery, was modelled on the library of Alexandria, and Vivarium became the model for Western monasteries in the Middle Ages. Cassiodorus collected as many manuscripts as he could; he had monks transcribe and translate texts; and he contributed to the preservation and continuation of learning through his own works. Institutiones divinarum et secularum litteratum, a proto-encyclopedia, is the most important of his writings. Variæ uses his official writings as models, and the Institutiones musicæ is an exposition of music theory. Expositio psalmorum is a commentary on the writings of Augustine as well as a commentary on the Psalms. Although the two monastic houses at Vivarium did not survive the death of Cassiodorus c. 585, the work of his copyists and translators lived on in the standard they set for libraries and scholarships throughout the Middle Ages.

Karen Rae Keck


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