Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy
Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy
Hundreds of philosophers existed thousands of years ago. It was a time when the only leisure you could probably do was think, theorize, analyze and discover things. Obviously, two thousand years can change the habit of people and these days, thinking would take a lot of effort. The discovery of new things never stop as people have that urge to continue improves lives. In history and philosophy classes, great thinkers and philosophers were often studied. It is pretty amazing to read their works and come up with such incredible thoughts at that time.
Often, they talk about leadership and politics. It was a time when countries are still developed and lands are yet to be discovered so a great leadership was very important. Although we would still analyze and review the philosophers’ works, more often their teachings cannot be applied to the current times. Sometimes change does not only involve technology and advancement, it can also apply to leadership and certain philosophical views. A great factor would involve the changing times. The lifestyle and the culture of the people are much different thousands of years ago.
It was a time that women were limited to do domestic chores. Philosophers like Plato and Aristotle, wrote about what they of women during that time. It was probably a time when the role of women in the society is not defined. Of course, women nowadays are powerful and strong. They have created their mark in the society and gender bias in a lot of major industries is non-existent. That is why a lot of rules and laws cannot be applied to the world today. However, there are still some teachings that can be used up to now. These are the teachings that involve a great perspective in life.
Sometimes, an illustrious perspective on life makes a person great. Anyway, the brain is the most powerful organ that is why the mind should take control of one’s lives. Teachings about life are very important that is why some philosophers and great thinkers are idolized and people formed a religion to continue preaching their teachings. One of the members of the long list of philosophers is Boethius. Although not as familiar as Aristotle and Plato, Anicius Manlius Severinus is the real name of this Roman philosopher but he was more famously known as Boethius.
Boethius was born from a wealthy and educated family and like any other kids during that time; he studied poetry, mathematics and philosophy. Theodoric, the Gothic King ruling from Italy to Rome, appointed him court minister. Soon, his two sons became court ministers as well. He was a bold and brave man, with thoughts envied by a lot of people. His boldness is what brought him down as he became the object of vengeance of those oppressed. Boethius was known to check in the oppressions of some leaders. He was then accused of treason and was stripped of his dignities. In 524, he was executed in Pavia.
While in prison, Boethius immersed himself in writing and there he wrote his greatest work. His masterpiece, The Consolation of Philosophy, talks about random thoughts about nature, justice and evil doings. The Consolation of Philosophy is a work mixed of prose and verse. It is a copy of Boethius conversation with Philosophy during the lonely years of the prisoners’ life. The work was theistic overall but it did not indicate whether the writer was Christian or not. In the Consolation of Philosophy, Philosophy showed Boethius how uncertain earthly fortune is and there is nothing more secure than virtue.
Boethius was the last great Roman writer who translated Aristotle’s work. His translations were the sole means of studying Greek philosophy for a long time. His manuals on geometry, music, philosophy, arithmetic and astronomy were used in medieval schools. It may seem that Boethius may be having apparitions in his prison, but these visions came with a great message and a deeper insight. Boethius saw the reason behind his imprisonment and his conversations with Philosophy ended his misery and opened his eyes to better things, better perception. There was more to a great fortune and earthly things.
It was probably some of the great things that Philosophy advised him that can still be applied up to the modern times. The first part of the book opens with Boethius having some afternoon thinking and writing when all of a sudden a woman appears in front of her. He described the woman as very beautiful and having a very powerful presence. He distinctively described her dress having embroidered the Greek letter Pi at the bottom and on the top hem, Theta. There was a ladder in between the two letters. She was holding books to her right hand and a scepter in the left.
She was the Muse of Poetry. Boethius was currently having one of his many melancholy moments. Tears were trickling down Boethius’ eyes when the Muse of Poetry became angry. She was questioning the existence of sluts in Boethius’ place. She says that they only provide him temporary happiness that will not help him in his condition but instead will worsen it. The Muse of Poetry then pushed away the girls and they left in dismay. Boethius was teary-eyed as they left but eventually the Muse will explain why she did such thing (O’Donnell 21).
The first part of the book shows how deserted Boethius feelings was in the prison that he tries to enjoy his self from getting temporary happiness. Apparitions or not, the Muse of Poetry shooed away the cause of all these but Boethius couldn’t help but feel terrible of her act he even questioned her authority. This lesson can still be applied to modern times. Often, when people have problems they are pushed to do band-aid solutions that will give them a short term solution to their problem. It is such an emotional thing to do that people do not even think of the long term effect or even the long term solution to their problem.
A concrete example would be poverty. It is a sad fact that poor people are often pushed to do the bad thing. When a person is desperate to get food, he often steals. This solution just makes things more complicated as that person ends up ruining his life by spending it in jail. It is one of the many things that emotions take over and the mind stays behind. People often think of short-term solutions to their problems without considering the long-term consequences of these short-term solutions. The next stanza talks about how the Muse of Poetry consoled Boethius grieving soul.
It was very well written with descriptions of how miserable Boethius has been. She assured Boethius that everything was going to be okay and that it was a time of healing not grieving. The Muse narrated how he brought up Boethius—being the great man that he is now. And although his situation may seem to be not bright, these too shall pass for the Muse is there to protect him and assure him that his virtues will prevail in this hardship (O’Donnell 24). This stanza was definitely was of the most touching part of the book.
Really, this was the consolation of philosophy and one can’t help but feel for Boethius suffering. He was deprived of the life he deserved yet his imprisonment didn’t stop him from writing wonderful works. The second stanza also hints on the probable religion of the Philosopher—Christianity. The Muse somehow reminds me of Mother Mary and how she would protect her son from danger. It also signifies that the philosopher believes in a supernatural being that is more powerful than the earthly soul. Like any other human being, Boethius was going through probably the toughest battle in his life.
And every human goes through that. No matter how driven or optimistic we are in our lives, there will always come a point that we want to give up. What the Muse was trying to communicate was that Boethius was born and made greater than his problems. And that does not exempt us. This made be theistic, but God won’t give us a problem that we could not bear. It is just normal that we feel like giving up at times especially when all hope’s lost but all we have to do is to stick to that goal and the universe will conspire to make life better for us.
The next stanza talks about how the night ended and the day started with Boethius describing his physician examining him. The physician turned out to be Philosophy and she narrated how she has been with Boethius all along. She narrated how she started with Plato and Socrates and how she has turned out to be what she is now. She explained to Boethius how she has been taking care of him all throughout his life. The next stanza narrates his conversation with Philosophy. She tested him of the things he knew and welcomed him of her questions.
The first thing that Philosophy asked him was if believed that life is full of chances. And he bluntly answered that God governs his creations and everything happens for a reason and he will never abandon His creation. The Philosophy then asked him why he was in such grief when he believes that God knows the best for him. By then, the writer was dumbstruck for he did not know the answer. The Philosophy knew something was missing and she was right. Boethius soon confessed that he was overpowered by grief. He knew the answer but he was just miserable to realize that the answer was just right in front of him.
Philosophy then declared that the reason of his sickness is his grief and it was he who created all of those (O’Donnell 28). The following lines were so powerful that one cannot help but relate to Boethius’ situation. Pretty sure every one has gone through that pain. It was a feeling of emptiness and pity. It was as if the world has gone against us and everything is so not going our way. At the back of our minds, we know that something great is lurking around. We just have to be patient as good things come to those who wait. It was also just a matter of believing and working for whatever it that we want.
It was a matter of realizing that we are in control of our lives—through God’s guidance that is. In general, the teachings of Philosophy can definitely still be applied to modern times. We all go through trials no matter what time or age we may be. It is just a matter of perspective. And although Boethius didn’t have any material thing left for him, it was his virtue that was more important than anything else. And that applies to all of us as well. Work Cited O’Donell, J. Life of Boethius. Pennsylvania: University of Pennsylvania. Pages, 1996.