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The Consolation of Philosophy: Revised Edition

Overview

‘Why else does slippery Fortune change
So much, and punishment more fit
For crime oppress the innocent?’

Written in prison before his brutal execution in AD 524, Boethius’s The Consolation of Philosophy is a conversation between the ailing prisoner and his ‘nurse’ Philosophy, whose instruction restores him to health and brings him to enlightenment. Boethius was an eminent public figure who had risen to great political heights in the court of ...

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Overview

‘Why else does slippery Fortune change
So much, and punishment more fit
For crime oppress the innocent?’

Written in prison before his brutal execution in AD 524, Boethius’s The Consolation of Philosophy is a conversation between the ailing prisoner and his ‘nurse’ Philosophy, whose instruction restores him to health and brings him to enlightenment. Boethius was an eminent public figure who had risen to great political heights in the court of King Theodoric when he was implicated in conspiracy and condemned to death. Although a Christian, it was to the pagan Greek philosophers that he turned for inspiration following his abrupt fall from grace. With great clarity of thought and philosophical brilliance, Boethius adopted the classical model of the dialogue to debate the vagaries of Fortune, and to explore the nature of happiness, good and evil, fate and free will.

Victor Watts’s English translation makes The Consolation of Philosophy accessible to the modern reader while losing nothing of its poetic artistry and breadth of vision. This edition includes an introduction discussing Boethius’s life and writings, a bibliography, glossary and notes.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

Slavitt, a poet and translator of over 80 works of fiction, poetry, and drama, presents a new translation of this philosophical classic directed at general readers. Written under the threat of Boethius's impending execution, the work comes on the cusp between the classical and medieval worlds. In alternating prose and verse, Boethius spins a dialog concerning the harsh vicissitudes of fortune and the lasting happiness provided by the life of the mind. Slavitt's prose translation is accessible and makes frequent use of colloquialisms. His poetic translations-too often paraphrased in earlier editions-are not weighed down with attempted fidelities to ancient meter and use contemporary forms to evoke the gravity and grace of the original. While the book does include a brief biographical and textual introduction by Seth Lerer (English & comparative literature, Stanford Univ.), its lack of textual apparatus makes this edition less than ideal for students. It does succeed, however, as a springboard for personal reflection and a source of literate pleasure. Recommended for large public and academic libraries.-Steven Chabot, Univ. of Toronto

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780140447804
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 5/28/2000
  • Language: Latin
  • Series: Penguin Classics Series
  • Edition description: Revised
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 132,571
  • Product dimensions: 5.23 (w) x 7.83 (h) x 0.48 (d)

Meet the Author

David R. Slavitt is a poet and the translator of more than eighty works of fiction, poetry, and drama.

Seth Lerer is Dean of Arts and Humanities and Distinguished Professor of Literature at the University of California at San Diego.

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Table of Contents

Preface viii
Introduction xi
I Introductory xi
II Boethius' Life and Writings xiii
III The Consolation of Philosophy xxii
IV The Christianity of Boethius xxxii
V The Text xxxv
Book I3
Book II22
Book III47
Book IV85
Book V116
Bibliography 139
Glossary 143
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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 12, 2003

    The One and the Good

    Here you find the unequivocal declaration that not riches, not high position, not fame, not physical pleasure are worth pursuing in-and-of themselves. Such things are of value only if they are obtained in the pursuit of the highest Good. This highest Good is demonstrated to be God. Moreover, Boethius points out that when evil men succeed in obtaining such goals over the righteous, then they cease to truly be men- they are beasts and subhuman. This is a refreshing reminder in the modern world, a world not unlike that of late Roman times. All happyness, all worth, all reason for being, lies in the One and the Good. Even when we commit immoral acts, it is a result of ignorance on our part in seeking this ultimate goal. Indeed, to turn from the quest of finding the One is to cease to exist at any meaningful level. There is no "fire and brimstone", or talk of eternal torment in hell here. There doesn't need to be. As long as you willfully or ignorantly stray from the Path then you are in hell. And to not find reconnection with the One and the Good is to cease to exist. All of our earthly existence is for the purpose of reawakening to our true nature. This truth lies within all of us and it is only reached by personal introspection (Know thyself.) Only in this way will we return to the eternal Source that lies beyond time itself. The consolation of the Consolatio lies in the fact that suffering serves a purpose if it puts us back on the true Path. Moreover, earthly recognition of virtue is irrelevent. God always recognises the man of virtue if the masses do not.

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