Vivarium (monastery)

The Vivarium was a monastery, library, and biblical studies center founded c. 544 by Cassiodorus near Squillace, in Calabria, Italy. Cassiodorus also established a biblical studies center on the Bible and a library inside. It became a place of preservation for classical Greek and Latin literature.

Depiction of Vivarium in an eighth-century Cassiodorus manuscript

The Vivarium was meant to build bridges across the cultural fault lines of the sixth century: those between Romans and Goths, between orthodox Catholics and their Arian rulers, between the east and west, between the Greek and the Latin worlds, and between pagans and Christians.[citation needed]

At the outbreak of the Graeco-Gothic War, Cassiodorus decided to retire from politics and left Italy for Constantinople, where he remained until at least 544. During this time, he focused on the study of religious issues. The Constantinopolitan period contributed significantly to the deepening of his theological knowledge. Around 544, he returned to home, and founded the Vivarium near Scolacium, on the shore of the Ionian Sea. The exact date of its founding is uncertain.[citation needed]

In 540, the Roman Senator Cassiodorus retired from the public life within the monastery and ordered to the Benedictine monks to learn about medicinal herbs and to copy various medical texts, including works of Galen, Hippocrates and of the pharmacist Dioscorides.[1]


  1. ^ Jeremiah Hackett (1997). Roger Bacon and the Sciences: Commemorative Essays 1996. Studien und Texte zur Geistesgeschichte des Mittelalters / Studien und Texte zur Geistesgeschichte des Mittelalters. 57. Leiden ; New York: Brill. p. 340. ISBN 9789004100152. OCLC 1008634975. Retrieved July 15, 2021. ...he had a number of medical texts, including works attributed (perhaps wrongly) to Galen, Hippocrates and of the pharmacist Dioscorides


  • Franco Cardini, Cassiodorus the Great. Rome, barbarians and monasticism, Milan, Jaca Book, 2009.
  • Luciana Cuppo Csaki, Contra voluntatem fundatorum: the monasterium Vivariense Cassiodorus after 575 in: ACTA XIII Congressus Internationalis Archaeologiae Christianae (Vatican City, Split 1998) vol. II, pp. 551-586.
  • Luciana Cuppo Csaki, The Monastery of Cassiodorus Vivariense: reconnaissance and research, 1994-1999, in: Frühes Rom und zwischen Christentum Konstantinopel, Akten des XIV. Internationalen Kongresses für Christliche Archäologie, Wien 19.-26. 9. 1999, Herausgegeben von R. Harreither, Ph. Pergola, R. Pillinger, A. Pulz (Wien, 2006) pp. 301-316.
  • Fabio Troncarelli, Vivarium. The books, the fate, Turnhout: Brepols, 1998.