The Consolation of Philosophy

Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius
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Title: The Consolation of Philosophy
Author: Boethius
Release Date: December 11, 2004 [EBook #14328]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1
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[Greek:?hom?s de kai en toutois dialampei to kalon,?epeidan pherĘ║ tis eukol?s pollas kai megalas?atychias, mĘ║ di analgĘ║sian, alla gennadas??n kai megalopsychos.]
Aristotle's 'Ethics,' I., xi. 12.
[Illustration: Diptych representing Narius Manlius Boethius, father of Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius. The inscription in full would run thus:--
NARIVS MANLIVS BOETHIVS VIR CLARISSIMVS ET INLVSTRIS?EXPRAEFECTVS PRAETORIO PRAEFECTVS VRBIS ET?COMES CONSVL ORDINARIVS ET PARTICIVS
(_For description vid. Preface, p. vi_)]
THE CONSOLATION OF PHILOSOPHY OF BOETHIUS.
Translated into English Prose and Verse
by
H.R. JAMES, M.A., CH. CH. OXFORD.
Quantumlibet igitur s?viant mali, sapienti tamen corona non decidet, non arescet.
Melioribus animum conformaveris, nihil opus est judice pr?mium deferente, tu te ipse excellentioribus addidisti; studium ad pejora deflexeris, extra ne qu?sieris ultorem, tu te ipse in deteriora trusisti.
LONDON:?ELLIOT STOCK, 62, PATERNOSTER ROW.
1897.
PREFACE.
The book called 'The Consolation of Philosophy' was throughout the Middle Ages, and down to the beginnings of the modern epoch in the sixteenth century, the scholar's familiar companion. Few books have exercised a wider influence in their time. It has been translated into every European tongue, and into English nearly a dozen times, from King Alfred's paraphrase to the translations of Lord Preston, Causton, Ridpath, and Duncan, in the eighteenth century. The belief that what once pleased so widely must still have some charm is my excuse for attempting the present translation. The great work of Boethius, with its alternate prose and verse, skilfully fitted together like dialogue and chorus in a Greek play, is unique in literature, and has a pathetic interest from the time and circumstances of its composition. It ought not to be forgotten. Those who can go to the original will find their reward. There may be room also for a new translation in English after an interval of close on a hundred years.
Some of the editions contain a reproduction of a bust purporting to represent Boethius. Lord Preston's translation, for example, has such a portrait, which it refers to an original in marble at Rome. This I have been unable to trace, and suspect that it is apocryphal. The Hope Collection at Oxford contains a completely different portrait in a print, which gives no authority. I have ventured to use as a frontispiece a reproduction from a plaster-cast in the Ashmolean Museum, taken from an ivory diptych preserved in the Bibliotheca Quiriniana at Brescia, which represents Narius Manlius Boethius, the father of the philosopher. Portraiture of this period is so rare that it seemed that, failing a likeness of the author himself, this authentic representation of his father might have interest, as giving the consular dress and insignia of the time, and also as illustrating the decadence of contemporary art. The consul wears a richly-embroidered cloak; his right hand holds a staff surmounted by the Roman eagle, his left the _mappa circensis,_ or napkin used for starting the races in the circus; at his feet are palms and bags of money--prizes for the victors in the games. For permission to use this cast my thanks are due to the authorities of the Ashmolean Museum, as also to Mr. T.W. Jackson, Curator of the Hope Collection, who first called my attention to its existence.
I have to thank my brother, Mr. L. James, of Radley College, for much valuable help and for correcting the proof-sheets of the translation. The text used is that of Peiper, Leipsic, 1874.
PROEM.
Anicus Manlius Severinus Boethius lived in the last quarter of the fifth century A.D., and the first quarter of the sixth. He was growing to manhood, when Theodoric, the famous Ostrogoth, crossed the Alps and made himself master of Italy. Boethius belonged to an ancient family, which boasted a connection with the legendary glories of the Republic, and was still among the foremost in wealth and dignity in the days of Rome's abasement. His parents dying early, he was brought up by Symmachus, whom the age agreed to regard as of almost saintly character, and afterwards became his son-in-law. His varied gifts, aided by an excellent education, won for him the reputation of the most accomplished man of his time. He was orator, poet, musician, philosopher. It is his peculiar distinction to have handed on to the Middle Ages the tradition of Greek philosophy by his Latin translations of the works of Aristotle. Called early to
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