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After the fall of the Gothic kingdom, Cassiodorus felt called to dedicate himself to God. In 536 he and Pope Agapetus tried to found at Rome a university of theological studies with an attached library on the model of those already flourishing in the East, but the attempt failed because of the pope’s death and the renewal of the Byzantine war. Best countries to visit solo The first work of this period is De anima, appended to the Variae. In its final prayer, Cassiodorus reveals the emotion of his conversion: ex servis filii, ex impiis iusti, de captivis reddimur absoluti. Then follows, modeled on Augustine, the Expositio Psalmorum, a complete commentary on all the psalms, composed probably at Constantinople, where Cassiodorus lived for ten years and found means to uphold Pope Vigilius’s ecclesiastical policy and to influence the Byzantine emperor in favor of Italy. Returning to his possessions in Calabria at the age of 70, in ca. 550 he founded the monastery of Vivarium. Many monks responded to a wholly particular calling: besides manual labor, time was set aside for the study of sacred and profane texts, transcription of which was considered a form of tribute to God. In this center, where both cenobitism and anchorism were allowed, there was as yet no precise rule: the monks were left free to follow tam patrum regulas quam praeceptoris proprii iussa. For monks intent on intellectual work, Cassiodorus composed the Institutiones divinarum litterarum, continually revised until the end of his life, a sort of introduction to sacred and profane literature and a rudimentary catalog of books, most of which were at Vivarium.

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