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Cassiodorus was a prominent participant in the political, intellectual, and religious life of 6th-century ce Italy, and a learned scholar of the classical and Christian traditions. As a member of the administration of the Gothic government under Theoderic and his successors, he advanced through what may be considered the late-Roman cursus honorum. He was also witness to the dramatic political and religious debates of the day, including volatile interactions between the royal court at Ravenna, the Senate at Rome, and the emperor in Constantinople. Justinian’s Gothic War in Italy effectively ended his political career, after which he first became an exile in Constantinople, and then the founder of a school for Christian learning (Vivarium) on his ancestral estates in southern Italy. The literary works that he produced span the spectrum of his personal experiences and attest to the intellectual and cultural range of people living during the 6th century: panegyrics, a chronicle, ethnography, letters, treatises on reading, grammars, Christian exegesis, and ecclesiastical history.

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Vettius Agorius Praetextatus was a learned Roman senator (c. 320–384 ce). He is usually remembered as the leading proponent of Graeco-Roman religious tradition (paganism) during the late Roman Empire.Vettius Agorius Praetextatus was a Roman senator (c. 320–384 ce). He was a learned aristocrat who never converted to Christianity even though the Christianisation of the Roman aristocracy was already in gradual process during his lifetime, and by the end of the century, in the years after his death, the Roman aristocracy as a whole had become Christian (at least nominally). Praetextatus is usually remembered as the leading proponent of Graeco-Roman religious tradition (paganism) during the late Roman Empire. He was a friend and correspondent of the orator Q. Aurelius Symmachus. Symmachus’ epist. 1.44–55 are addressed to him.1Praetextatus held the high offices of praefectus urbi in 367–368 ce and praefectus praetorio in 384; when he died in that year, he had been designated consul for the following year. A few laws extant in the Theodosian Code (8.14.1; 9.40.10; 14.4.4; 6.35.7; 13.3.8; 1.6.6) are addressed to him as .