Cassiodorus, Marcus Aurelius

, a man of eminence in many respects, and called by way of distinction “the senator,” was born at Squillace, in Calabria, about the year 4i>7. He had as liberal an education as the growing barbarism of his times afforded; and soon recommended himself by his eloquence, his learning, and his wisdom, to Theodoric king of the Goths in Italy. Theodoric first made him governor of Sicily; and when he had Sufficiently proved his abilities and prudence in the administration of that province, admitted him afterwards to his cabinet-councils, and appointed him to be his secretary. After this he had all the places and honours at his command, which Theodoric had to bestow; and, having passed through all the employments of the government, was raised to the consulate, which he administered alone, in the year 514. He was continued in the same degree of confidence and favour by Athalaric, who succeeded Theodoric, about the year 524; but afterwards, in the year 537, being discarded from all his offices by king Vitiges, he renounced a secular life, and retired into a monastery of his own founding in the extreme parts of Calabria. Here he led the life of a man of letters, a philosopher, and a Christian. He entertained himself with forming and improving several curious pieces of mechanism, such as sun-dials, water clocks, perpetual lamps, &c. He collected a very noble and curious library, which he enlarged and improved by several books of his own composing. About the year 556, he wrote two books “De Divinis Lectionibus;” and afterwards a book “De Orthographia,” in the preface to which he tells us, that he was then in his ninety-third year. There are extant of his twelve books of letters, ten of which he wrote as secretary of state, in the name of kings | Theodoric and Athalaric, and two in his own. He composed also twelve books “De rebus gestis Gothorum,” which are only extant in the abridgment of Jornandes; though it has been surmised that a manuscript of Cassiodorus is still remaining in some of the libraries in France. He wrote also a commentary upon the Psalms, and several other pieces, theological and critical. Father Simon has ?poken of him thus “There is no need,” says he, “of examining Cassiodorus’s Commentaries on the Psalms, which is almost but an abridgment of St. Augustin’s Commentaries, as he owns in his preface. But besides these commentaries, we have an excellent treatise of this author’s, entitled < De institutione ad Divinas Lectiones,' which shews, that he understood the criticism of the scriptures, and that he had marked out what were the best things of this nature in the ancient doctors of the church. In the same book Cassiodorus gives many useful rules for the criticism of the scriptures; and he takes particular notice of those fathers who have made commentaries upon the Bible, &c.” It seems generally agreed that he was in all views a very extraordinary man; and we think that those have done him no more than justice, who have considered him as a star, which shone out amidst the darkness of a barbarous age. When he died we cannot precisely determine, but most writers seem to be of opinion this happened in the year 575. His works have been collected and printed several times; the best edition is that of Rohan, 1679, 2 vols. fol. with the notes and dissertations of John Garret, a Benedictine monk. In 1721, Signer Scipio Maffei published a work of Cassiodorus, which had long been missing; and in the following year the same was published at London, by Mr. Samuel Chandler, entitled “Complexions, or short Commentaries upon the Epistles, the Acts, and the Revelation,” which Dr. Lardner has enumerated among the testimonies to the credibility of the gospel history. 1

1 Dupin. —Moreri. Cave. Lardner’s Works, vol. V. Blounfe’s Censura. —Saxii Onomasticon,