Magnus Amelias Cassiodoris, an Italian statesman, author, and ascetic, born at Scyla-cium about 408, died about 560. He was of an ancient and wealthy Roman family. In his youth he distinguished himself by his talents, and was appointed to high offices by Odoacer, king of the Heruli, the first barbarian king of Italy. After Theodoric, king of the Ostrogoths, had overcome and supplanted Odoacer, Cassio-dorus for many years, and under various titles, was prime minister of the Gothic kingdom. When Theodoric in his old age began to persecute the leading Latins in his service, Cassio-dorus resigned his situation and dignities, and retired to his estates. After the death of Theodoric he was recalled to power, and served with distinction and fidelity Amalasontha, Athalaric, Theodatus, and Vitiges. Upon the temporary triumph of the emperors of the East, being now 70 years of age, he retired again to the monastery of Viviers which he had founded in Calabria. In this retreat he passed the remainder of his days, which were prolonged until he was nearly a century old. His career as a historian and man of letters began when his career as a statesman ended.
He taught his monks to labor in the fields as husbandmen, and to devote themselves to the copying of ancient manuscripts, then perishing rapidly under the effects of barbarian ascendancy and Roman neglect. This monastery was taken as a model for others founded in all parts of Christian Europe. His arrangement of the branches of a liberal education into grammar, rhetoric, and dialectics (the trwium), and arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music (the quadrivium), was accepted throughout the middle ages, and long after, as the only true programme of a liberal education. His writings on education form a considerable part of his literary remains. His history of the Goths in 12 books has not survived, but the epitome of the same by Jornandes is extant, and is an invaluable authority. Equally important in a critical point of view are his state papers in 12 books, which are the chief authority upon the internal condition and government of Italy during the period of Ostrogothic rule. The style is very florid and affected, the language very corrupt.
He also wrote a universal history down to 519, and an ecclesiastical history from the era of Constantino down to the time of Theodosius the Younger. These works enjoyed great consideration during the middle ages, but since the revival of learning have fallen into oblivion. The first edition of his works was published at Paris in 1584; the latest and best is that published by D. Garet at Rouen (2 vols, folio, 1079), and reprinted at Venice (1729). There are three biographies of Cassiodorus: one in Latin, prefixed to Caret's edition of his works; one in French by Saint-Marthe, Paris, 1095; and one in German by I)e Buat, in the first volume of the transactions of the royal academy of Munich.