the early centuries of the Middle Ages may be regarded as a period in which western Europe, devastated by wars and epidemics and invaded by the barbarians, had preserved only the memory of its past grandeur, while the Greco-Roman civilization had completely disappeared, to reappear at first slowly and timidly, then with more strength and boldness. At the beginning of the Renaissance it might well have seemed that medical thought had disappeared with the Roman civilization, or that it had migrated to distant parts to return later with the medicine of the Arabians. As a matter of fact, however, even at the lowest ebb, although the classic civilization had been overthrown and mostly destroyed, and although the conquerors had changed the civil regime and pillaged the monuments of ancient grandeur, nevertheless civilization and accumulated knowledge were not entirely obliterated. The progress of letters, sciences, and arts had suffered a severe check; Christianity in its rapid spread had changed the direction of study and of literature and art; but at the same time it had fervently preserved the achievements of the ancients. The Goths and Lombards, whose arms reduced much of Italy to slavery, cut the marvellous flowers and trampled on the plants, but did not succeed in destroying the roots. Inconspicuously and little by little, at first in those parts of the Mediterranean that had escaped invasion and had preserved the Roman laws and customs under the nominal domination of the Empire of the East, then in Rome, which had become the capital of Christianity, and finally nearer the Alps — natural ramparts against the foreign invaders — a free and vigorous life sprang up, the ancient tradition became more alive and more aware of its past grandeur. Finally, after the wars had ceased, the invaders even began to adopt the customs of the conquered and to bow to that moral force which impregnated them with the grandeur of the Roman civilization. Theodoric said: “We are glad to live under the Roman law (delectamur jure Romano vivere)” ; and Cassiodorus is cited by De Renzi as having emphasized that a certain Gaul whom he was recommending for the Roman Senate had lived in Italy and thus had the dignified attitude of a Roman rather than the coarseness of the barbarians.