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It is the overall plan that God has for the world, even when Fate the ordering of events on earth seems to be disordered. The Consolation of Philosophy study guide contains a biography of Ancius Boethius, literature essays, a complete e-text, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis. The Consolation of Philosophy literature essays are academic essays for citation.

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The Consolation of Philosophy

Forgot your password? Book number? Boethius writes the book as a conversation between himself and Lady Philosophy. She consoles Boethius by discussing the transitory nature of fame and wealth "no man can ever truly be secure until he has been forsaken by Fortune" , and the ultimate superiority of things of the mind, which she calls the "one true good". She contends that happiness comes from within, and that one's virtue is all that one truly has, because it is not imperilled by the vicissitudes of fortune.

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Boethius engages questions such as the nature of predestination and free will , why evil men often prosper and good men fall into ruin , human nature , virtue , and justice. He speaks about the nature of free will versus determinism when he asks if God knows and sees all, or does man have free will. To quote V.

Watts on Boethius, God is like a spectator at a chariot race; He watches the action the charioteers perform, but this does not cause them. In the Consolation , Boethius answered religious questions without reference to Christianity, relying solely on natural philosophy and the Classical Greek tradition. He believed in the correspondence between faith and reason.

The truths found in Christianity would be no different from the truths found in philosophy. To acquire a taste for it is almost to become naturalised in the Middle Ages — C. Lewis [8].

The Consolation of Philosophy

From the Carolingian epoch to the end of the Middle Ages and beyond, this was the most widely copied work of secular literature in Europe. It was one of the most popular and influential philosophical works, read by statesmen, poets, and historians, as well as of philosophers and theologians. It is through Boethius that much of the thought of the Classical period was made available to the Western Medieval world.


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The philosophical message of the book fits well with the religious piety of the Middle Ages. Readers were encouraged not to seek worldly goods such as money and power, but to seek internalized virtues. Evil had a purpose, to provide a lesson to help change for good; while suffering from evil was seen as virtuous. Because God ruled the universe through Love, prayer to God and the application of Love would lead to true happiness. The Consolation of Philosophy stands, by its note of fatalism and its affinities with the Christian doctrine of humility, midway between the pagan philosophy of Seneca the Younger and the later Christian philosophy of consolation represented by Thomas Aquinas.

The book is heavily influenced by Plato and his dialogues as was Boethius himself. Found within the Consolation are themes that have echoed throughout the Western canon: the female figure of wisdom that informs Dante, the ascent through the layered universe that is shared with Milton, the reconciliation of opposing forces that find their way into Chaucer in The Knight's Tale, and the Wheel of Fortune so popular throughout the Middle Ages. Citations from it occur frequently in Dante 's Divina Commedia.

Boethian influence can be found nearly everywhere in Geoffrey Chaucer 's poetry, e.


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  • Chaucer translated the work in his Boece. The Italian composer Luigi Dallapiccola used some of the text in his choral work Canti di prigionia The Australian composer Peter Sculthorpe quoted parts of it in his opera or music theatre work Rites of Passage —73 , which was commissioned for the opening of the Sydney Opera House but was not ready in time.

    Boethius and Consolatio Philosophiae are cited frequently by the main character Ignatius J. Boethius is also referenced in the film 24 Hour Party People , when Tony Wilson's character gives pocket change to a panhandler, who recites an excerpt of "The Consolation of Philosophy.

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    It speaks largely to the wheel as a metaphor for the vicissitudes of life. It is a prosimetrical text, meaning that it is written in alternating sections of prose and metered verse.


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    • In the course of the text, Boethius displays a virtuosic command of the forms of Latin poetry. It is classified as a Menippean satire , a fusion of allegorical tale, platonic dialogue , and lyrical poetry.

      In the 20th century there were close to four hundred manuscripts still surviving, a testament to its former popularity.