Bibliotherapy

Cassiodorus On The Health Of The Soul

Flavius Magnus Aurelius Cassiodorus (Gesta Theodorici: Leiden, University Library, Ms. vul. 46, fol. 2r), dated 1177. Frontispiece showing Flavius Magnus Aurelius Cassiodorus (seated opposite Theodoric), fol. 2r of Leiden ms. vul. 46 (Gesta Theodorici), Manuscript on vellum. 186 ff., 220 x 125 mm. Fulda, dated 1176/7.

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Today’s sharing from the Blue House of HYGEIA is a quote from Cassiodorus’ work: ‘On the Soul’, published after his ‘Institutions of Divine and Secular Learning’ (543-555 AD.), Liverpool University Press, 2004. Page 256. Cassiodorus in his ‘Institutions’ develops a whole program of education involving the seven liberal arts, the quadrivium and the trivium.

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‘First of all, the rampart of justice is set against evil and injustice. Its composition, as the ancient chose to set it down, is as follow: Justice is a state of the soul maintained for the common good, which gives to each it’s due. Against confusion and uncertainty, prudence is usefully employed and prudence is the true knowledge of good and evil. Against misfortune as well as good luck, fortitude mans a deliberate assumption of risk and a steadfast endurance of difficulties. Furthermore, against illicit delights and the pleasures of passion, temperance comes to our aid as moderator, and temperance is the strong and regulating governor of passion and other improper desires of the soul. Thus, by these safeguards, vouchsafed by divine gifts, the health of the soul, surrounded as it were by a fourfold breastplate, is protected in this deadly world: something that deserved so much protection cannot be attacked by vices.

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But this fourfold glory of virtues is, if I may say so, completed by a three-part division. The first part is contemplation that develops the penetration of our mind to perceive the subtlest matters. The second is judgement that handles the distinction of good and evil through rational assessment. The third is memory where matters considered and reflected on are placed in the innermost recesses of the mind in a faithful trust so that we may keep in some receptacle, as it were, what we have drunk in by frequent meditations. Our safes, when they have been filled, cannot hold more: this treasury is not weighted down by its load, but when it has stored much, will seek more because of the desire to know. We have struck the above-mentioned part as though they were a tree-note harmony for such number delights the soul and makes Divinity rejoice.’

🌿More about Cassiodorus: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cassiodorus 🌿Picture: Flavius Magnus Aurelius Cassiodorus (Gesta Theodorici: Leiden, University Library, Ms. vul. 46, fol. 2r), dated 1177. Frontispiece showing Flavius Magnus Aurelius Cassiodorus (seated opposite Theodoric), fol. 2r of Leiden ms. vul. 46 (Gesta Theodorici), Manuscript on vellum. 186 ff., 220 x 125 mm. Fulda, dated 1176/7.
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