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Thursday, September 30, 2010


Gordon Wilkinson


I just finished reading The Consolation of Philosophy based on the strong recommendation of Ignatius Reilly. The wonderful thing about blogs is that I only came to know Ignatius Reilly because of your recommendations of Walker Percy. It's a wonderful World. Keep up the great work.

God Bless

Thomas L. McDonald

Really glad to see this. I first encountered Boethius when I was studying Middle English. Chaucer translated the Consolation, and it lies at the heart of much of his writing, and thus of all English literature.

Brian J. Schuettler

Thank you, Carl. I enjoyed your article very much and from your interesting perspective now have a much deeper appreciation for the "philosophical consolations" of Boethius.

Richard M

I can't help but be struck at reading of Boethius - once one the most read figures in all of Christendom - being described as a "little-known Roman."

Alas, today, that's undoubtedly accurate.

Manuel G. Daugherty Razetto

Here we come face to face with a consequential facet of BXVI's 'modus' of teaching: a pronounced interest in the eternal truths of early Christianity that becomes richer with the wrintings/works of the (early) Fathers; however as we read Carl's instructive work, Boethius was not one of them but a philosopher, astronomer, mathematician.

Boethius was an anusual type of a man of whom we know not much except for what he wrote or translated. One of my favorite British storians(on Philosophy) wrote this about him: "During the two centuries before his time and then ten centuries after it, I cannot think of any European man of learning so free of superstition or fanaticism. Nor are his merits merely negative; his survey is lofty, disinterested, and sublime. He would have been remarkable in any age; in the age in which he lived, he is utterly amazing".

I observed Carl's careful description of how Boethius applied himself to reconcile, harmonize two distinct sciences; pagan Philosophy and Christian Theology:"The key is recognizing that Boethius as a Christian sought to reconcile pagan philosophy as far as possible with Christianity. He did it as a philosopher not as a theologian so he could go as far as philosophy allows.." Very good assertion. There are others though, who swear the De Consolatione Philosophie is, solely, Plato.

Finally there are pivotal events in his life that beg attention because serious questions emanate from them:
a) His friendship with king Theodoric; after Justinian proscribed Arianism Theodoric grows uneasy; fears a plot and incarcerates(or places in house arrest) his friend, right hand man and minister Boethius whom during a whole year after writes beautiful prose and poetry in the De Consolatione Philosophie. Did they remain friends til the end as some have suggested?
b) Why did it take the Church more than 200 years to declare him a martyr?
c) notwithstanding C.S.Lewis. E. Gilson, D.Knowles thoughts on the treaty about The Trinity, the lingering, conspicuous question stands - as Carl's lists it so well"Philosophy,Theology or Both" - open since, Boethius himself left it unanswered.

I have to add that Carl's last paragraph is very fine.

Carl E. Olson

Thank you, everyone, for the kind remarks. The article was originally a paper for a philosophy course I took at the University of Oregon (!) several years ago. Excellent class.

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