Boethius' treatise was "the first systematic and well-developed treatise on the mathematical subject in the Roman world" (Jean-Yves Guillaumin, "Boethius' De institutione arithmetica
and its influence on posterity", in A Companion to Boethius in the Middle Ages
, p. 135). It is an adaptation with additions of the work with same title by Nicomachus of Gerasa, written in c
. 100 AD, and it became the main textbook on arithmetic in the medieval period. In this work Boethius introduces the concept of the quadrivium
, the meeting of the four branches of science (arithmetic, music, geometry and astronomy). Boethius dedicates his text to his father-in-law, Symmachus, who encouraged Boethius to undertake this work, which was his first book (his last being the Consolation of Philosophy).
The manuscript notes at the end, in an Italian hand, show the movements of Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Venus, Mercury, and the sun and moon.