To make Cassiodorus accessible to all who might be curious, I have quoted his own words liberally in translations of my own. Some of the renderings verge on paraphrase, not out of ineptitude or intention to deceive, but out of sympathy for the reader. Cassiodorus' prose is wooden and artificial enough in Latin; literally translated into English, it would generally induce deep stupor.
I have incurred a long list of debts in the course of my researches, with no hope of repaying them adequately: to teachers at Princeton (where this book began in the form of several undergraduate papers--most of them never actually written--in 1970-1972), at University College, Dublin (1972-1973), and at Yale (where a dissertation based on an earlier version of chapters 1-3 of what follows was accepted for the doctorate in 1975, supervised by Dean Jaroslav J. Pelikan and examined by Lowry Nelson, Jr., and Gordon Williams); to publishers' readers and others since, whose comments have been never less than useful and often indispensable (some were anonymous, but I know I can thank James W. Halporn and T. D. Barnes); to attentive and critical audiences who heard some of my arguments at Bryn Mawr College (February 1975), the 107th Annual Meeting of the American Philological Association (December 1975), and Colorado College (February 1976); to Bryn Mawr College and to Cornell University for financial assistance in preparing the typescript; to August Frugé of the University of California Press at Berkeley for his sponsorship, encouragement, and criticism (and to the editorial staff there for their meticulous attentions); and to many other friends and colleagues, unwilling victims who have heard a great deal more about Cassiodorus than they cared to these past eight years.
Cassiodorus himself--a little more than sinner, a little
less than saint--has been a constant source of inspiration. It is
with reluctance that I put the final touches on a work that has
served to keep my eyes riveted on so instructive and admonitory
an example of what the Christian scholar can and must be. I cannot imagine how I could have employed my time more pleasurably or
more profitably than with Cassiodorus as my companion.
J. J. O'D.
Ithaca, New York
February 26, 1978
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