Cassiodorus was not a monk, but he was very sympathetic and supportive of the monastic life. He wrote an important work, De Artibus ac Disciplinis Liberalium Litterarum, which builds on earlier work by Martianus Cappela, Augustine, and Jerome, to be the first real presentation of the seven liberal arts. Cassiodorus was insistent that there were seven of them, going as far as finding Biblical support for this.

His list of them remains determinative throughout the Middle Ages. First there are the Arts: Grammar and Rhetoric. Then there is one that is partly an art and partly a science: Dialectic. Then there are four science: arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy.