Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ER 2048
Cassiodorus encourages the monks in the monastery of Vivarium (Calabria, Italy) to read the monastic works of the presbyter Cassian but warns against his errors concerning grace and free will. Cassiodorus, "Institutions of Divine and Secular Learning", Ravenna, Vivarium, AD 530-560.
Book I
29.2. Cassianum presbyterum, qui conscripsit de institutione fidelium monachorum, sedule legite et libenter audite, qui inter ipsa initia sancti propositi octo principalia vitia dicit esse fugienda, hic noxios motus animorum ita competenter insinuat, ut excessus suos hominem paene videre faciat et vitare compellat, quos antea confusione caliginis ignorabat, qui tamen de libero arbitrio a beato Prospero iure culpatus est, unde monemus ut in rebus talibus excedentem sub cautela legere debeatis, cuius dicta Victor Mattaritanus, episcopus Afer, ita Domino iuvante purgavit, et quae minus erant addidit, ut ei rerum istarum palma merito conferatur; quem inter alios de Africae partibus cito nobis credimus esse dirigendum, cetera vero genera monachorum vehementer accusat, sed vos, karissimi fratres, Deo iuvante eas partes elegite, quas salubriter cognoscitur ille laudasse.
(ed. Mynors 1961: 74)
Book I
29.2. Read devotedly and gladly what Cassian the presbyter wrote about the instruction of faithful monks. He says at the beginning of his holy treatise that there are eight cardinal vices to be avoided. He comprehends the dangerous movements of minds so well that he almost makes a man see and avoid the excesses that his dark confusion had hidden from him. Cassian has been justly criticized by blessed Prosper on the question of free will. On this account I warn you to read him with some care because he has gone beyond the mark in such matters. Victor of Maktar, an African bishop, with the Lord's aid has corrected his writings and has added what was missing so well that he deserves full credit in these matters. And I think this work, among others, should be sent to us soon from the region of Africa. Cassian does violently attack other sects of monks, but you, dear brothers, with God's aid, should choose that role that Cassian has praised, and rightly so.
(trans. Halporn 2004: 162-63, lightly adapted)


Cassiodorus refers here to Prosper of Aquitaine's "De gratia Dei et libero arbitrio" written in 433 in which he rebukes John Cassian (styled in the work a "collator" in reference to his "Collationes"), see Di Berardino 1986: 554.

Place of event:

  • Italy north of Rome with Corsica and Sardinia
  • Aquileia

About the source:

Author: Cassiodorus
Title: De institutione divinarum litterarum, Institutiones, An introduction to divine and human readings, Institutions of Divine and Secular Learning
Origin: Ravenna (Italy north of Rome with Corsica and Sardinia), Vivarium (Italy south of Rome and Sicily)
Denomination: Catholic/Nicene/Chalcedonian
"Institutions of Divine and Secular Learining" of Cassiodorus is a treatise about Christian education and a sort of catalogue of books (in many respects similar to the genre of the De viris illustribus). It is usually connected with the community of Vivarium and the scholarly and literary pursuits of its members. The work, however, was revised several times and therefore, it is probable that the earlier versions were drafted by Cassiodorus already in the 530s when still at office in Ravenna, at the court of the Ostrogothic king. Mommsen (1894: ix) supposed that Cassiodorus borrowed the title from Junilius, the author of Instituta composed in 542 whose works Cassiodorus certainly knew (I.10.1). Moreover, Cassiodorus mentions Pope Vigilius as if he was already dead, therefore after 555. The composition and revision of the Institutions most probably took several decades, and possibly extended even past the 560s. It cannot be, however, more precisely defined (see Cappuyns 1949: 1371-73, Vessey 2004: 22-24).
R.A.B. Mynors ed., Cassiodori Senatoris Institutiones, Oxford 1961
J.W. Halporn, trans., Cassiodorus: Institutions of divine and secular learning and On the soul, Liverpool 2004.
M. Cappuyns, "Cassiodore", Dictionnaire d'histoire et de géographie ecclésiastiques, vol. 11, Paris 1949, cols. 1349-1408
M. Cappuyns, "Eugippius", Dictionnaire d'histoire et de géographie ecclésiastiques, vol. 15, Paris 1963, cols. 1376-78
A. Di Berardino ed., Patrology, vol. 4, Westminster 1986
Th. Mommsen ed., Cassiodori Senatoris Variae, Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Auctores antiquissimi 12, Berlin 1894
S. Ruiz, "Bellator", Dictionnaire d'histoire et de géographie ecclésiastiques, vol. 7, Paris 1934, col. 828
M. Vessey, "Introduction", in: Cassiodorus: Institutions of divine and secular learning and On the soul, Liverpool 2004, 3-101


Religious grouping (other than Catholic/Nicene/Chalcedonian) - Pelagian
Described by a title - Presbyter/πρεσβύτερος
Relation with - Monk/Nun
Writing activity
Monastic or common life
Education - Theological interest
Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL: M. Szada, Presbyters in the Late Antique West, ER2048,