Scanned text contains errors.
was prolonged until he had nearly completed a century, in the seclusion of the cloister. Here his activity of mind was no less conspicuous than when engaged in the stirring business of the world, and his efforts were directed towards the accomplishment of designs not less important. The great object which he kept steadily in view and prosecuted with infinite labour and unflagging zeal, was to elevate the standard of education among ecclesiastics by inducing them to study the models of classical antiquity, and to extend their knowledge of general literature and science. To accomplish this he formed a library, disbursed large sums in the purchase of MSS., encouraged the monks to copy these with care, and devoted a great portion of his time to labour of this description and to the composition of elementary treatises on history, metaphysics, the seven liberal arts, and divinity, which have rendered him not less celebrated as an author and a man of learning than as a politician and a statesman. The leisure hours which remained he is said to have employed in the construction of philosophical toys, such as sun-dials, water-clocks, everlasting lamps, and the like. The benefit derived from his precepts and example was ""byv no means confined to the establishment over •which, he presided, nor to the epoch when he flourished. The same system, the advantages of which were soon perceived and appreciated, was gradually introduced into similar institutions, the transcription of ancient works became one of the regular and stated occupations of the monastic life, and thus, in all probability, we are indirectly indebted to Cassiodorus for the preservation of a large proportion of the most precious relics of ancient genius. The following is a list of all the writings of Cassiodorus with which we are acquainted :•-—
1. " Variarum (Epistolarum) Libri XII.," an assemblage of state papers drawn up by Cassiodorus in accordance with the instructions of the sovereigns whom he served. In the first ten books the author always speaks in the person of the ruler for the time being; in the last two, in his own. The first five contain the ordinances of Theodoric, the sixth and seventh regulations (formulae) with regard to the chief offices of the kingdom, the eighth, ninth, and tenth, the decrees promulgated by the immediate successors of Theodoric, the eleventh and twelfth the edicts published by Cassiodorus himself during the years 584—538, when praefect of the praetorium. This collection is of the greatest historical importance, being our chief and most trustworthy source of information in regard to everything connected with the constitution and internal discipline of the Ostrogothic dominion in Italy. We must not, however, expect to find much that is attractive or worthy of imitation in the style of these documents. While we cannot help admiring the ingenuity displayed in the selection and combination of phrases, moulded for the most part into neat but most artificial forms, and polished with patient toil, we at the same time feel heartily wearied and disgusted by the sustained affectation and declamatory glitter which disfigure every page. The language is full of strange and foreign words, and little attention is paid to the delicacies of syntax, but Funccius is too harsh when he designates it as a mere mass of Gothic solecisms. Perhaps the best description which can be given of the general effect produced
upon the reader by these compositions is contained in the happy expression of Tiraboschi, who characterises the diction of Cassiodorus as " barbara eleganza."
The Editio Princeps of the "Variarum" was printed under the inspection of Accursius by Henr. Sileceus, at Augsburg, in the month of May, 1533 (fol.), the disquisition " De Anima" being included in the same volume.
2. " Chronicon," a dull, pompous, clumsy summary of Universal History, extending from the creation of the world down to a. d. 519, derived chiefly from Eusebius, Hieronymus, Prosper, and other authorities still accessible. It was drawn up in obedience to the orders of Theodoric, and by no means deserves the respect with which it was regarded in the middle ages, since it is carelessly compiled and full of mistakes.
3. " Historiae Ecclesiasticae Tripartitae ex tri-bus Graecis Scriptoribus, Sozomeno, Sbcrate, ac Theodoreto ab Epiphanio Scholastico Versis, per Cassiodorum Senatorem in Epitomen redactae Libri XII." The origin of this work is sufficiently explained by the title. It contains a complete survey of ecclesiastical history from Constantine down to the younger Theodosius. This, like the Chronicon, is of little value in the present day, since the authorities from which it is taken are still extant, and are infinitely superior both in matter and manner to the epitomizer. Prefixed we have an introduction, in which Cassiodorus gives full scope to his taste for inflated grandiloquence. The editio princeps of the Ecclesiastical History was printed by Johannes Schussler, at Augsburg, 1472, fol.
4. " Computus Paschalis sive de Indictionibus, Cyclis Solis et Lunae," &c., containing the calculations necessary for the correct determination of Easter. This treatise belongs to the date 562, and this is the latest year in which we can prove the author to have been alive.
5. " De Orthographia Liber," compiled by Cassiodorus when 93 years old from the works of nine ancient grammarians,—Agnaeus Cornutus, Velius Longus, Curtius Valerianus, Papirianus, Adaman-tius Martyrius, Eutyches, Caesellius, Lucius Cae-cilius Vindex, and Priscianus, in addition to whom we find quotations from Varro, Donatus, and Phocas.
6. " De Arte Grammatica ad Donati Mentem," of which a fragment only has been preserved.
This tract, together with the preceding, will be found in the " Grammaticae Latini Auctores an-tiqui" of Putschius, Hanov. 1605, p. 2275 and p. 2322.
7. " De Artibus ac Disciplinis Liberalium Lite-rarum," in two books, a compilation from the best authorities, much esteemed and studied during the middle ages. It contains a compendium of the seven liberal arts which were at one time supposed to embrace the whole circuit of human knowledge, —Grammar, Rhetoric, Dialectics, Arithmetic, Geometry, Astro-nomy, Music.
Angelo Mai has recently published from a Vatican MS. some chapters, hitherto unedited, which seem to have formed the conclusion of the work. (Classicorum Auctorum e Vat. Codd. vol. iii. p. 349.)
8. " De Anima," on the name, origin, nature, qualities, abode, and future existence of the soul, together with speculations upon other topics connected with the same subject.