Sunday, April 27, 2008

Boethius - The Consolation of Philosophy

If you haven't read this wonderful little book, I commend it to you. Boethius wrote it while awaiting the death penalty, after having been accused, tried in absentia, and convicted of treason. It takes the form of a dialog between himself and the Lady Philosophy. Boethius is in prison and miserable at how he has lost all that he once had, in worldly terms: wealth, power, fame, and so forth. Philosophy comes to him, and shows him how there is no true good to be found in any of these things that men seek, and that he must instead seek the True Good - that is, God.

I don't know who the translator was for the edition I'm reading (Dougherty provided introductory material, but the translation strikes me as being older), but it's very well done. Boethius alternates between poetry and prose, and both are beautifully rendered in English. The book also forms a great introduction to the sort of philosophy that would later find more extensive and technical expression in the later Middle Ages.

Read The Consolation of Philosophy, and learn why we must not seek our happiness in the things of this life.

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