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The Variae of Cassiodorus have long been valued as an epistolary collection offering a window into political and cultural life in a so-called barbarian successor state in sixth-century Italy. However, this study is the first to treat them as more than an assemblage of individual case studies and to analyse the collection's wider historical context. M. Shane Bjornlie highlights the insights the Variae provides into early medieval political, ecclesiastical, fiscal and legal affairs and the influence of the political and military turbulence of Justinian's reconquest of Italy and of political and cultural exchanges between Italy and Constantinople. The book also explores how Cassiodorus revised, updated and assembled the Variae for publication and what this reveals about his motives for publishing an epistolary record and for his own political life at a crucial period of transformation for the Roman world.
Table of Contents
The Variae as Windows onto Painted Curtains: Introduction
Cassiodorus and Italy at the end of the long-fifth century
Cassiodorus and the Circumstances of Political Survival
The age of bureaucracy
The reign of Justinian
Voices of discontent in Constantinople
The Anicii between Rome, Ravenna and Constantinople
The memory of Boethius in the Variae
Reading the Variae as Political Apologetic
Literary aspects of the Variae
Antiquitas and Novitas: the language of good governance in the Variae
Natura and Law in Justinian's Novellae and the Variae
Reading good governance in the Variae and the De anima
The Variae as apologetic narrative
Conclusion: innovative traditionalism and its consequence
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