Cassiodorus

Flavius Magnus Aurelius Cassiodorus Senator (c. 485 – c. 585),[1] commonly known as Cassiodorus (/ˌkæsioʊˈdɔːrəs/), was a Roman statesman, renowned scholar of antiquity, and writer serving in the administration of Theoderic the Great, king of the Ostrogoths. Senator was part of his surname, not his rank. He also founded a monastery, Vivarium, where he spent the last years of his life.

Gesta Theodorici - Flavius Magnus Aurelius Cassiodorus (c 485 - c 580)
Flavius Magnus Aurelius Cassiodorus (Gesta Theodorici: Leiden, University Library, Ms. vul. 46, fol. 2r)

Life

Cassiodorus was born at Scylletium, near Catanzaro in Calabria, Italy. His ancestry included some of the most prominent ministers of the state extending back several generations.[2] His great-grandfather held a command in the defense of the coasts of southern Italy from Vandal sea-raiders in the middle of the fifth century; his grandfather appears in a Roman embassy to Attila the Hun, and his father served as Count of the sacred largesses and count of the private estates to Odovacer[2] before transferring his allegiance to Theoderic. Under the latter, Cassiodorus' father (who bore the same name), rose to an even higher position, achieving the office of Praetorian Prefect, which held, under the Gothic kings, the same influence that it had previously in the court of Rome.

Cassiodorus began his career under the auspices of his father, about in his twentieth year, when the latter made him his consiliarius upon his own appointment to the Praetorian Prefecture. In the judicial capacity of the prefect, he held absolute right of appeal over any magistrate in the empire (or Gothic kingdom, later) and the consiliarius served as a sort of legal advisor in cases of greater complexity. Evidently, therefore, Cassiodorus had received some education in the law.[3] 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[4] 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.[5]

There is no mention in Cassiodorus' selection of official correspondence of the death of Boethius.

Athalaric died in early 534, and the remainder of Cassiodorus' public career was dominated by the Byzantine reconquest and dynastic intrigue among the Ostrogoths. His last letters were drafted in the name of Vitiges. Around 537–38, he left Italy for Constantinople, from where his successor was appointed, where he remained for almost two decades, concentrating on religious questions. He notably met Junillus, the quaestor of Justinian I there. His Constantinopolitan journey contributed to the improvement of his religious knowledge.

Cassiodorus spent his career trying to bridge the 6th-century cultural divides: between East and West, Greek culture and Latin, Roman and Goth, and between an Orthodox people and their Arian rulers. He speaks fondly in his Institutiones of Dionysius Exiguus, the calculator of the Anno Domini era.

In his retirement, he founded the monastery of Vivarium[2] on his family estates on the shores of the Ionian Sea, and his writings turned to religion.

Monastery at Vivarium

Bamberg.Cassiodor Vivarium
Vivarium from the Bamberg manuscript of the Institutiones Patr. 61, fol. 29v

Cassiodorus' Vivarium "monastery school"[6] was composed of two main buildings: a coenobitic monastery and a retreat, for those who desired a more solitary life. Both were located on the site of the modern Santa Maria de Vetere near Squillace. The twin structure of Vivarium was to permit coenobitic monks and hermits to coexist. The Vivarium appears not to have been governed by a strict monastic rule, such as that of the Benedictine Order. Rather Cassiodorus' work Institutiones was written to guide the monks' studies. To this end, the Institutiones focus largely on texts assumed to have been available in Vivarium's library. The Institutiones seem to have been composed over a lengthy period of time, from the 530s into the 550s, with redactions up to the time of Cassiodorus' death. Cassiodorus composed the Institutiones as a guide for introductory learning of both "divine" and "secular" writings, in place of his formerly planned Christian school in Rome:

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. [7]

The first section of the Institutiones deals with Christian texts, and was intended to be used in combination with the Expositio Psalmorum. The order of subjects in the second book of the Institutiones reflected what would become the Trivium and Quadrivium of medieval liberal arts: grammar, rhetoric, dialectic, arithmetic, music, geometry, and astronomy. While he encouraged study of secular subjects, Cassiodorus clearly considered them useful primarily as aids to the study of divinity, much in the same manner as St. Augustine. Cassiodorus' Institutiones thus attempted to provide what Cassiodorus saw as a well-rounded education necessary for a learned Christian, all in uno corpore, as Cassiodorus put it.[8]

The library at Vivarium was still active c. 630, when the monks brought the relics of Saint Agathius from Constantinople, dedicating to him a spring-fed fountain shrine that still exists.[9] However, its books were later dispersed, the Codex Grandior of the Bible being purchased by the Anglo-Saxon Ceolfrith when he was in Italy in 679–80, and taken by him to Wearmouth Jarrow, where it served as the source for the copying of the Codex Amiatinus, which was then brought back to Italy by the now aged Ceolfrith.[10] Despite the demise of the Vivarium, Cassiodorus' work in compiling classical sources and presenting a sort of bibliography of resources would prove extremely influential in Late Antique Western Europe.[11]

Educational philosophy

Cassiodorus devoted much of his life to supporting education within the Christian community at large. When his proposed theological university in Rome was denied, he was forced to re-examine his entire approach to how material was learned and interpreted.[12] His Variae show that, like Augustine of Hippo, Cassiodorus viewed reading as a transformative act for the reader. It is with this in mind that he designed and mandated the course of studies at the Vivarium, which demanded an intense regimen of reading and meditation. By assigning a specific order of texts to be read, Cassiodorus hoped to create the discipline necessary within the reader to become a successful monk. The first work in this succession of texts would be the Psalms, with which the untrained reader would need to begin because of its appeal to emotion and temporal goods.[13] By examining the rate at which copies of his Psalmic commentaries were issued, it is fair to assess that, as the first work in his series, Cassiodorus's educational agenda had been implemented to some degree of success.[13]

Beyond demanding the pursuit of discipline among his students, Cassiodorus encouraged the study of the liberal arts. He believed these arts were part of the content of the Bible, and some mastery of them—especially grammar and rhetoric—necessary for a complete understanding of it.[13] These arts were divided into trivium (which included rhetoric, idioms, vocabulary and etymology) and quadrivium: arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy.

Classical connections

Cassiodorus is rivalled only by Boethius in his drive to preserve and explore classical literature during the 6th century AD.[14][15] He found the writings of the Greeks and Romans valuable for their expression of higher truths where other arts failed.[13] Though he saw these texts as vastly inferior to the perfect word of Scripture, the truths presented in them played to Cassiodorus' educational principles. Thus he is unafraid to cite Cicero alongside sacred text, and acknowledge the classical ideal of good being part of the practice of rhetoric.[13]

His love for classical thought also influenced his administration of Vivarium. Cassiodorus connected deeply with Christian neoplatonism, which saw beauty as concomitant with the Good. This inspired him to adjust his educational program to support the aesthetic enhancement of manuscripts within the monastery, something which had been practiced before, but not in the universality that he suggests.[16]

Classical learning would by no means replace the role of scripture within the monastery; it was intended to augment the education already under way. It is also worth noting that all Greek and Roman works were heavily screened to ensure only proper exposure to text, fitting with the rest of the structured learning.[17]

Lasting impact

Cassiodorus' legacy is quietly profound. Before the founding of Vivarium, the copying of manuscripts had been a task reserved for either inexperienced or physically infirm devotees, and was performed at the whim of literate monks. Through the influence of Cassiodorus, the monastic system adopted a more vigorous, widespread, and regular approach to reproducing documents within the monastery.[18] This approach to the development of the monastic lifestyle was perpetuated especially through German religious institutions.[18]

This change in daily life also became associated with a higher purpose: the process was not merely associated with disciplinary habit, but also with the preservation of history.[19] During Cassiodorus' lifetime, theological study was on the decline and classical writings were disappearing. Even as the victorious Ostrogoth armies remained in the countryside, they continued to pillage and destroy religious relics in Italy.[14] Cassiodorus' programme helped ensure that both classical and sacred literature were preserved through the Middle Ages.

Despite his contributions to monastic order, literature, and education, Cassiodorus' labors were not well acknowledged. After his death he was only partially recognized by historians of the age, including Bede, as an obscure supporter of the Church. In their descriptions of Cassiodorus, medieval scholars have been documented to change his name, profession, place of residence, and even his religion.[14] Some chapters from his works have been copied into other texts, suggesting that he may have been read, but not generally known.[17]

Criticism

The works not assigned as a part of Cassiodorus' educational program must be examined critically. Because he had been working under the newly dominant power of the Ostrogoths, the writer demonstrably alters the narrative of history for the sake of protecting himself. The same could easily be said about his ideas, which were presented as non-threatening in their approach to peaceful meditation and its institutional isolationism.[20]

Works

  • 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) ISBN 0-85323-436-1
  • 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)

References

  1. ^ O'Donnell, James J. (1995). "Chronology". Cassiodorus.
  2. ^ a b c Frassetto 2003, p. 103.
  3. ^ Thomas Hodgkin, Letters Of Cassiodorus, (Oxford, 1886), introduction
  4. ^ Cf., e.g., F. Denis de Sainte-Marthe: La vie de Cassiodore, chancelier et premier ministre de Theoderic le Grand. Paris 1694 (online, in French)
  5. ^ "Cassiodorus: Chapter 1, Backgrounds and Some Dates". faculty.georgetown.edu. Retrieved 2017-02-28.
  6. ^ Jean Leclerq, The Love of Learning and the Desire for God, 2nd revised edition (New York: Fordham, Fordham University Press, 1977) 25.
  7. ^ Institutions, trans. James W. Halporn and Mark Vessey, Cassiodorus: Institutions of Divine and Secular Learning and On the Soul, TTH 42 (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2004)I.1, 105.
  8. ^ Halporn and Vessey, Cassiodorus: Institutions, 68.
  9. ^ Select Abstracts
  10. ^ Maria Makepeace, http://www.florin.ms/pandect.html
  11. ^ Halporn and Vessey, Cassiodorus: Institutions, 66.
  12. ^ Wand, JWC. A History of the Early Church. Methuen & Co. Ltd. (Norwich: 1937)
  13. ^ a b c d e Astell, Ann W. (1999). "Cassiodorus's "Commentary on the Psalms" as an "Ars Rhetorica"". Rhetorica. XVII (Winter, 1999): 37–73. doi:10.1525/rh.1999.17.1.37.
  14. ^ a b c Jones, Leslie W. (1945). "The Influence of Cassiodorus on Medieval Culture". Speculum. XX (October, 1945): 433–442. doi:10.2307/2856740. JSTOR 2856740.
  15. ^ General Audience of Pope Benedict XVI, Boethius and Cassiodorus. Internet. Available from "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-12-28. Retrieved 2008-04-30.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link); accessed June 21, 2011.
  16. ^ "Cassiodorus' Institutes and Christian Book Selection". The Journal of Library History. I (April, 1966): 89–100.
  17. ^ a b "The Value and Influence of Cassiodorus's Ecclesiastical History". The Harvard Theological Review. XLI (January, 1948): 51–67.
  18. ^ a b Rand, E. K. (1938). "The New Cassiodorus by EK Rand". Speculum. XIII (October, 1938): 433–447. doi:10.2307/2849664. JSTOR 2849664.
  19. ^ Pergoli Campanelli, Alessandro (2013). Cassiodoro alle origini dell'idea di restauro. Milano: Jaca Book. p. 140. ISBN 978-88-16-41207-1.
  20. ^ "Cassiodorus as Patricius and ex Patricio". Historia: Zeitschrift für Alte Geschichte. XLI (1990): 499–503.

Sources

  • Barnish, S.J. Roman Responses to an Unstable World: Cassiodorus' Variae in Context in: Vivarium in Context 7–22 (Centre Leonard Boyle: Vicenza 2008). ISBN 978-88-902035-2-7
  • Cassiodorus, Flavius Magnus Aurelius (780). "Institutiones divinarum et saecularium litterarum". Bamberg, Staatsbibliothek, Msc.Patr. 61, fol. 1v–67v. Southern Italy. Retrieved 24 September 2013.
  • Cassiodorus, Flavius Magnus Aurelius (1167). "Gesta Theodorici". Leiden, Universiteitsbibliotheek, Ms. vul. 46. Fulda. Retrieved 24 September 2013.
  • Frassetto, Michael (2003). Encyclopedia of Barbarian Europe: Society in Transformation. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO. ISBN 978-1-57607-263-9.
  • Gračanin, Hrvoje (2015). "Late Antique Dalmatia and Pannonia in Cassiodorus' Variae". Povijesni prilozi. 49: 9–80.
  • Gračanin, Hrvoje (2016). "Late Antique Dalmatia and Pannonia in Cassiodorus' Variae (Addenda)". Povijesni prilozi. 50: 191–198.
  • O'Donnell, James J. (1969). Cassiodorus University of California Press, Berkeley, CA.
  • O'Donnell, James J. (1979). Cassiodorus (Berkeley: University of California Press). On-line e-text.

External links

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

In religion, an abyss is a bottomless pit, or also a chasm that may lead to the underworld or hell.

In the Septuagint, or Greek version of the Hebrew Bible, the word represents both the original unfinished creation (Genesis 1:2) and the Hebrew tehom ("a surging water-deep"), which is used also in apocalyptic and kabbalistic literature and in the New Testament for hell; the place of punishment; in the Revised version of the Bible "abyss" is generally used for this idea. Primarily in the Septuagint cosmography the word is applied both to the waters under the earth which originally covered it, and from which the springs and rivers are supplied and to the waters of the firmament which were regarded as closely connected with those below.

In Psalm 42 verse 7, "Deep calls to deep" (referring to the waters) renders the Latin "Abyssus abyssum invocat", developing the theme of the longing of the soul for God. Cassiodorus relates this passage to the mutual witness of the two Testaments, the Old Testament foretelling the New, and the New Testament fulfilling the Old.A discussion of the Biblical Abyss, as the Tehom-Rabba, and its relation to the Deluge formed part of the Sacred Theory of Thomas Burnet.In the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus there is an abyss between the righteous dead and the wicked dead in Sheol.In the Book of Revelation, Abaddon is called "the angel of the abyss".

Aesti

The Aesti (also Aestii, Astui or Aests) were an ancient people first described by the Roman historian Tacitus in his treatise Germania (circa 98 AD). According to Tacitus, the territory of Aesti was located somewhere east of the Suiones (Swedes) and west of the Sitones (possibly the ancient "Kvens"), on the Suebian (Baltic) Sea. This and other evidence suggests that they lived in or near the present-day Russian enclave of Kaliningrad Oblast (previously East Prussia).

Despite the phonological similarity between Aestii and the modern ethnonyms of Estonia, especially in popular etymologies, the two geographical areas are not contiguous and there are few, if any, direct historical links between them.

Balt dynasty

The Balt dynasty or Balth dynasty (Latin: Balti or Balthi, Balts) was the first ruling family of the Visigoths from 395 until 531. They led the Visigoths into the Western Roman Empire in its declining years.

According to the historian Ablabius, as reported by the historian Jordanes, the Visigoths had been ruled by the Balti since ancient times. Jordanes, however, says that all the Goths were formerly ruled by the Amals. Relying on Cassiodorus, Jordanes says that the Balts were "second" after the Ostrogothic Amal dynasty. He claims that the family was named from long ago for its daring: "Baltha, which [in Gothic] means bold" (Baltha, qui est audax).The Visigoths as a nation were formed under the rule of Alaric I, the first named Balt, only in 395. He famously sacked Rome in 410. His descendants continued to rule down to 531, when on the death of Amalaric the line went extinct. In 507, the Visigoths were defeated by the Franks at the Battle of Vouillé and lost most of their kingdom. In 511, the Ostrogothic king Theoderic the Great intervened to depose the Balt king Gesalec. He ruled himself until his death in 526, when Amalaric succeded him. Theoderic's intervention is often credited with saving the Visigothic kingdom, but it ended the Balt dynasty.The private wealth (res privata) of the Balt kings, which had been a foundation of the legitimacy, was transformed into the royal treasury (thesaurus regalis) and became state property after 531. The dynastic principle was abandoned and kings were chosen by election until the fall of the Visigothic kingdom in711.

Berig

Berig is a legendary king of the Goths appearing in the Getica by Jordanes. According to Jordanes, Berig led his people on three ships from Scandza (Scandinavia) to Gothiscandza (the Vistula Basin). They settled and then attacked the Rugians who lived on the shore and drove them away from their homes, subsequently winning a battle against the Vandals.A Danish historian, Arne Søby has nonetheless proposed that Cassiodorus, who wrote the original text on which Jordanes' work is based, invented him, with inspiration from the name of Βέρικος (Berikos or Verica). Some archaeological research indicates, however, that the transition of Oksywie culture into Wielbark culture was peaceful and its timing coincides with the appearance of new population of Scandinavian origins in previously uninhabited area ("no man's land") between the Oksywie and Przeworsk culture areas.The 16th-century Swedish archbishop of Uppsala, Johannes Magnus in his history of the Swedes and Goths, was the first to publish a song known as the "Ballad of Eric", about an early Gothic king called Eric, who bears some similarities to Berig. It was once thought to contain authentic folk tradition about the king, but it is now regarded as fake. However, Magnus discusses king Berig separately as having united the Swedes and Goths some 400 years after Erik's death.

In popular culture, Berig is referenced (as Berik) in the song Three Ships of Berik, Pts. 1 and 2 by Swedish symphonic metal band Therion

Durham Cassiodorus

The Durham Cassidorus (Durham, Cathedral Library, MS B. II. 30) is an 8th-century illuminated manuscript containing Cassiodorus's Explanation of the Psalms. The manuscript contains two surviving miniatures of King David, one of David as Victor (right) and one of David as Musician. A third miniature is known to have existed, but does not survive. The manuscript was produced in Northumbria in about 730. The codex has 261 surviving folios. It is the earliest known copy of the commentary written by Cassiodorus in the sixth century and the hands of six scribes have been identified within it.

Getica

De origine actibusque Getarum ("The Origin and Deeds of the Getae/Goths"), or the Getica, written in Late Latin by Jordanes (or Iordanes/Jornandes) in or shortly after 551 AD, claims to be a summary of a voluminous account by Cassiodorus of the origin and history of the Gothic people, which is now lost. However, the extent to which Jordanes actually used the work of Cassiodorus is unknown. It is significant as the only remaining contemporaneous resource that gives the full story of the origin and history of the Goths. Another aspect of this work is its information about the early history and the customs of Slavs.

Johannine Comma

The Johannine Comma (Latin: Comma Johanneum) is an interpolated phrase in the First Epistle of John 5:7-8. It became a touchpoint for Protestant and Catholic debates over the doctrine of the Trinity in the early modern period.

The passage first appeared as an addition to the Vulgate, the Latin translation of the Bible, and entered the Greek manuscript tradition in the 15th century. It does not appear in the oldest Latin manuscripts, and appears to have originated as a gloss around the end of the 4th century. Some scribes gradually incorporated this annotation into the main text over the course of the Middle Ages.

The first Greek manuscript of the New Testament that contains the comma dates from the 15th century. The comma is absent from the Ethiopic, Aramaic, Syriac, Slavic, Armenian, Georgian, and Arabic translations of the Greek New Testament. It appears in some English translations of the Bible via its inclusion in the first printed edition of the New Testament, Erasmus's Nouum instrumentum omne, who added it to his text in 1522.

Jordanes

Jordanes (), also written Jordanis or, uncommonly, Jornandes, was a 6th-century Eastern Roman bureaucrat of Gothic extraction who turned his hand to history later in life.

Jordanes wrote Romana, about the history of Rome, but his best-known work is his Getica, which was written in Constantinople about AD 551. It is the only extant ancient work dealing with the early history of the Goths.

Jordanes was asked by a friend to write Getica as a summary of a multi-volume history of the Goths by the statesman Cassiodorus that had existed then but has since been lost. Jordanes was selected for his known interest in history, his ability to write succinctly and because of his own Gothic background. He had been a high-level notarius, or secretary, of a small client state on the Roman frontier in Scythia Minor, modern south-eastern Romania and north-eastern Bulgaria.Other writers, e.g. Procopius, wrote works which are extant on the later history of the Goths. As the only surviving work on Gothic origins, the Getica has been the object of much critical review. Jordanes wrote in Late Latin rather than the classical Ciceronian Latin. According to his own introduction, he had only three days to review what Cassiodorus had written, meaning that he must also have relied on his own knowledge. Some of his statements are laconic.

Monastic school

Monastic schools (Latin: Scholae monasticae) were, along with cathedral schools, the most important institutions of higher learning in the Latin West from the early Middle Ages until the 12th century. Since Cassiodorus's educational program, the standard curriculum incorporated religious studies, the Trivium, and the Quadrivium. In some places monastic schools evolved into medieval universities which eventually largely superseded both institutions as centers of higher learning.

Ostrogothic Kingdom

The Ostrogothic Kingdom, officially the Kingdom of Italy (Latin: Regnum Italiae), was established by the Ostrogoths in Italy and neighbouring areas from 493 to 553.

In Italy the Ostrogoths, led by Theoderic the Great, killed and replaced Odoacer, a Germanic soldier, erstwhile-leader of the foederati in Northern Italy, and the de facto ruler of Italy, who had deposed the last emperor of the Western Roman Empire, Romulus Augustulus, in 476. Under Theoderic, its first king, the Ostrogothic kingdom reached its zenith, stretching from modern France in the west into modern Serbia in the southeast. Most of the social institutions of the late Western Roman Empire were preserved during his rule. Theodoric called himself Gothorum Romanorumque rex ("King of the Goths and Romans"), demonstrating his desire to be a leader for both peoples.

Starting in 535, the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire invaded Italy under Justinian I. The Ostrogothic ruler at that time, Witiges, could not defend the kingdom successfully and was finally captured when the capital Ravenna fell. The Ostrogoths rallied around a new leader, Totila, and largely managed to reverse the conquest, but were eventually defeated. The last king of the Ostrogothic Kingdom was Teia.

Ostrogoths

The Ostrogoths (Latin: Ostrogothi, Austrogothi) were the eastern branch of the older Goths (the other major branch being the Visigoths). The Ostrogoths traced their origins to the Greutungi – a branch of the Goths who had migrated southward from the Baltic Sea and established a kingdom north of the Black Sea, during the 3rd and 4th centuries. They built an empire stretching from the Black Sea to the Baltic. The Ostrogoths were probably literate in the 3rd century, and their trade with the Romans was highly developed. Their Danubian kingdom reached its zenith under King Ermanaric, who is said to have committed suicide at an old age when the Huns attacked his people and subjugated them in about 370.

After their annexation by the Huns, little is heard of the Ostrogoths for about 80 years, after which they reappear in Pannonia on the middle Danube River as federates of the Romans. After the collapse of the Hun empire after the Battle of Nedao (453), Ostrogoths migrated westwards towards Illyria and the borders of Italy, while some remained in the Crimea (where the Crimean Ostrogoths existed as a distinct people until at least the 16th century). During the late 5th and 6th centuries, under Theodoric the Great most of the Ostrogoths moved first to Moesia (c. 475–488) and later conquered the Kingdom of Italy of the Germanic warrior Odoacer. In 493, Theodoric the Great established a kingdom in Italy.

A period of instability then ensued, tempting the Eastern Roman Emperor Justinian to declare war on the Ostrogoths in 535 in an effort to restore the former western provinces of the Roman Empire. Initially, the Byzantines were successful, but under the leadership of Totila, the Goths reconquered most of the lost territory until Totila's death at the Battle of Taginae. The war lasted for almost 21 years and caused enormous damage and depopulation of Italy. The remaining Ostrogoths were absorbed into the Lombards who established a kingdom in Italy in 568.

Panegyric

A panegyric (US: or UK: ) is a formal public speech, or (in later use) written verse, delivered in high praise of a person or thing, a generally highly studied and undiscriminating eulogy, not expected to be critical.

Psalm 6

Psalm 6 is the 6th psalm from the Book of Psalms. The Psalm gives its author as King David. David's supposed intention in writing the psalm was that it would be for anyone suffering from sickness or distress or for the state of the Kingdom of Israel while suffering through oppression.The Geneva Bible (1599) gives the following summary:

When David by his sins had provoked God’s wrath, and now felt not only his hand against him, but also conceived the horrors of death everlasting, he desireth forgiveness. 6 Bewailing that if God took him away in his indignation, he should lack occasion to praise him as he was wont to do while he was among men. 9 Then suddenly feeling God’s mercy, he sharply rebuketh his enemies which rejoiced in his affliction.The psalm is the first of the seven Penitential Psalms, as identified by Cassiodorus in a commentary of the 6th century AD. Many translations have been made of these psalms, and musical settings have been made by many composers.

Quadrivium

The quadrivium (plural: quadrivia) is the four subjects, or arts (namely arithmetic, geometry, music and astronomy), taught after teaching the trivium. The word is Latin, meaning four ways, and its use for the four subjects has been attributed to Boethius or Cassiodorus in the 6th century. Together, the trivium and the quadrivium comprised the seven liberal arts (based on thinking skills), as distinguished from the practical arts (such as medicine and architecture).

The quadrivium consisted of arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy. These followed the preparatory work of the trivium, consisting of grammar, logic, and rhetoric. In turn, the quadrivium was considered the foundation for the study of philosophy (sometimes called the "liberal art par excellence") and theology.The quadrivium was the upper division of the medieval education in the liberal arts, which comprised arithmetic (number), geometry (number in space), music (number in time), and astronomy (number in space and time). Educationally, the trivium and the quadrivium imparted to the student the seven liberal arts (essential thinking skills) of classical antiquity.

Romulus Augustulus

Flavius Romulus Augustus (c. AD 460 – after AD 476; possibly still alive as late as AD 507), known derisively and historiographically as Romulus Augustulus, was the Roman emperor who ruled the Western Roman Empire from 31 October 475 until 4 September 476. He is often described as the "last Western Roman emperor", though some historians consider this to be Julius Nepos. His deposition by Odoacer traditionally marks the end of the Roman Empire in the West, the end of Ancient Rome, and the beginning of the Middle Ages in Western Europe.

Although he, as all other emperors, adopted the name Augustus upon his accession, he is better remembered by his derisive nickname Augustulus. The Latin suffix -ulus is a diminutive; hence Augustulus effectively means "Little Augustus". The name Romulus was also changed derisively to Momyllus meaning "little disgrace".The historical record contains few details of Romulus' life. He was the son of Orestes, a Roman who once served as a secretary in the court of Attila the Hun before coming into the service of Julius Nepos in AD 475. In the same year he was promoted to the rank of magister militum, but then led a military revolt that forced Nepos to flee into exile. With the capital of Ravenna under his control, Orestes appointed his son Romulus to the throne despite the lack of support from the eastern court in Constantinople. Romulus, however, was little more than a child and figurehead for his father's rule. After ten months in power, during which time his authority and legitimacy were disputed beyond Italy, Romulus was forced to abdicate by Odoacer, a Germanic foederatus officer who defeated and executed Orestes. After seizing control of Ravenna, Odoacer sent the former emperor to live in the Castellum Lucullanum in Campania, after which he disappears from the historical record.

Scriptorium

Scriptorium ( (listen)), literally "a place for writing", is commonly used to refer to a room in medieval European monasteries devoted to the writing, copying and illuminating of manuscripts by monastic scribes.

Squillace

Squillace (Ancient Greek: Σκυλλήτιον Skylletion; Medieval Greek: Σκυλάκιον Skylakion) is an ancient town and comune, in the Province of Catanzaro, part of Calabria, southern Italy, facing the Gulf of Squillace.Squillace is situated near the east coast of Calabria, close to the shores of an extensive bay, the Gulf of Squillace (Italian: Golfo di Squillace), which indents the coast of Calabria on the east as deeply as that of the Gulf of Saint Euphemia (Italian: Golfo di Sant'Eufemia) does on the west, with a comparatively narrow isthmus between them.

Vitiges

Vitiges or Witiges (died 540) was king of the Ostrogoths in Italy from 536 to 540.He succeeded to the throne of Italy in the early stages of the Gothic War, as Belisarius had quickly captured Sicily the previous year and was currently in southern Italy at the head of the forces of Justinian I, the Eastern Roman Emperor. According to Procopius, he had a commander in this war named Vacis.

Vitiges was the husband of Amalasuntha's only surviving child, Matasuntha. The panegyric upon the wedding in 536 was delivered by Cassiodorus, the praetorian prefect, and survives, a traditionally Roman form of rhetoric that set the Gothic dynasty in a flatteringly Roman light.

Soon after he was made king, Vitiges had his predecessor Theodahad murdered. Theodahad had enraged the Goths because he failed to send any assistance to Naples when it was besieged by the Byzantines, led by Belisarius.

Justinian's general Belisarius took both Vitiges and Matasuntha as captives to Constantinople, and Vitiges died there, without any children. After his death, Matasuntha married the patrician Germanus Justinus, a nephew of Justinian I by his sister Vigilantia.

Vivarium (monastery)

The Vivarium was a monastery, library, and biblical studies center founded c.544 by Cassiodorus near Squillace, in Calabria, Italy. Cassiodorus also established a biblical studies center on the Bible and a library inside. It became a place of preservation for classical Greek and Latin literature.

The Vivarium was meant to build bridges across the cultural fault lines of the sixth century: those between Romans and Goths, between orthodox Catholics and their Arian rulers, between the east and west, between the Greek and the Latin worlds, and between pagans and Christians.

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