Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ER 1955
King Theodoric informs the landowners from Trent (Italy) that their tax obligations will be reduced by the value of the allotment (sors) bestowed on Butila, most probably an Arian presbyter, AD 507/511. Cassiodorus, Variae, the letter composed in AD 507/511, included in the collection before 560.
Munificentiam nostram nulli uolumus extare damnosam, ne quod alteri tribuitur, alterius dispendiis applicetur. Et ideo praesenti auctoritate cognoscite, pro sorte quam Butilani presbytero nostra largitate contulimus, nullum debere persoluere fiscalis calculi functionem, sed in ea praestatione quanti se solidi comprehendunt, de tertiarum illationibus uobis noueritis esse releuandos. Nec inferri a quoquam uolumus, quod alteri nostra humanitate remisimus, ne, quod dictu nefas est, bene meriti munus innocentis contingat esse dispendium.
(ed. Fridh 1973: 69)
We do not want our generosity to be at the expense of anyone so that what is offered to one side should not cause loss to another. And therefore, you shall know by the present decree that no tax should be paid for the lot (sors) that we generously bestowed on the presbyter Butila, but be aware that as many solidi as are comprised in that gift, will be removed for you from the contribution of the thirds (tertiae). We do not want to take from someone else what we, in our humanity, gave to another, lest the gift for good merit be a loss for an innocent, which is not right even to say.
(trans. M. Szada)


The granting of the sors to the presbyter Butila must have had some influence on the amount of money due by the city of Trent to the royal fisc. Therefore, Theodoric grants the city reduction of the tax (called tertia) exactly by the value of the sors expressed in the solidi. According to one interpretation, Butila's allotment was a land estate exempted from tax; while the overall amount of tax did not change, taxation would be more burdensome for the Roman owners, but the king agreed to diminish tax of Trent by the amount granted to Butila (see Liebeschuetz 2006: 142–143, Wickham 2006: 85). According to another, proposed by Walter Goffart (1980: 77–79; 2006: 184–191), Butila received a share of the taxes of a set quantity of assessed property in Trent (illatio tertiarum in the text), which he did not have to pay to the state but could keep for himself.

Place of event:

  • Italy north of Rome with Corsica and Sardinia
  • Ravenna
  • Trento

About the source:

Author: Cassiodorus
Title: Variae, Variarum libri duodecim
Origin: Ravenna (Italy north of Rome with Corsica and Sardinia)
Denomination: Arian, Catholic/Nicene/Chalcedonian
The present letter was written in the name of King Theodoric the Great by Cassidorus and its date is roughly established on the period between 507 and 511 by its position in the collection in relation to datable documents. In this period, Cassiodorus most probably held the office of quaestor on the court of the Ostrogothic king in Ravenna (on the dating of the documents within the Variae see O`Donnell 1979). The letter was included by Cassiodorus in the Variae, the collection of documents drafted by him while in office, which was composed either between 538 and 540 (the last letter in the Variae is dated to 538, Belisarius captured Ravenna in 540; for this dating see Mommsen 1894: xxx-xxxi; Fridh 1973: x; O`Donnell 1979: 103; Krautschick 1983: 11; Barnish 1992: xiv; Gillet 2003: 175; Amici 2005: 221) or in the late 540s or even 550s as was recently argued by Bjornlie 2013: 19-26.
Fridh Å.J. ed., Magni Aurelii Cassiodori variarum libri XII, Corpus Christianorum. Series Latina 96, Turnhout 1973
Mommsen Th., Cassiodori senatoris Variae, Monumenta Germaniae Historica. Auctores Antiquissimi 12, Berlin 1894
A. Amici, "Cassiodoro e Constantinopoli: da Magister Officiorum a Religiosus Vir”, Vetera Christianorum 42 (2005), 215–231.
S.J.B. Barnish ed., The Variae of Magnus Aurelius Cassiodorus Senator, Liverpool 1992.
M.S. Bjornlie, Politics and tradition between Rome, Ravenna and Constantinople: a study of Cassiodorus and the Variae 527-554, Cambridge ; New York 2013
A.K. Gillett, Envoys and Political Communication in the Late Antique West, 411–533, Cambridge 2003
W. Goffart, Barbarians and Romans: A.D. 418-584. The techniques of accommodation, Princeton, NJ 1980
S. Krautschick, Cassiodor und die Politik seiner Zeit, Bonn 1983
W. Liebeschuetz, "Cities, taxes and the accomodation of the barbarians”, [in :] From Roman Provinces to Medieval Kingdoms, ed. T.F.X. Noble, London 2006, 257–269.
J.J. O'Donnell, Cassiodorus, Berkeley 1979.
C. Wickham, Framing the early Middle Ages: Europe and the Mediterranean 400 - 800, Oxford 2006.


Non-Latin Origin - Gothic
Religious grouping (other than Catholic/Nicene/Chalcedonian) - Arian
Described by a title - Presbyter/πρεσβύτερος
Economic status and activity - Ownership or possession of land
Economic status and activity - Gift
Relation with - Monarch and royal/imperial family
Relation with - Secular authority
Relation with - Townsman
Economic status and activity - Taxes and services
Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL: M. Szada, Presbyters in the Late Antique West, ER1955,