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The Consolation of Philosophy

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  9,952 ratings  ·  583 reviews
Boethius was an eminent public figure under the Gothic emperor Theodoric, and an exceptional Greek scholar. When he became involved in a conspiracy and was imprisoned in Pavia, it was to the Greek philosophers that he turned. THE CONSOLATION was written in the period leading up to his brutal execution. It is a dialogue of alternating prose and verse between the ailing pris ...more
Paperback, Revised, 192 pages
Published November 25th 1999 by Penguin Classics (first published 525)
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3.97  · 
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 ·  9,952 ratings  ·  583 reviews

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Dec 26, 2009 rated it really liked it
I’ve meant to read this for a very long time, probably since I found out that the title of The Consolations of Philosophy, another book I quite enjoyed, was borrowed from this one. In case you don’t know the background, I’ll be quick. The writer was leading a perfectly satisfactory life (in fact, even better than satisfactory) when one day everything went seriously yuck (in case you need a theme song to understand this – you can’t say I don’t try to provi ...more
Gary  Beauregard Bottomley
Sep 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
You ever wonder why God (or the universe) would allow a truly awful human being like Donald Trump to flourish? I do and this book delves into that kind of question with gusto. The author, Boethius, through his dialog with the lady, Philosophy, tells us and much more. There is no cop out with his answers. It's not the standard Christian drivel that we will be rewarded in an infinite after life nothing as easy as that.

Not to take way from the author, but the answer is along the lines that God (or
Mark Adderley
Why does a good God allow bad things to happen to good people? And why does He allow bad people to get away with doing bad things?

In 524, Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius was executed, most likely by strangulation, on a charge of treason. Whilst languishing in prison, he wrote a book that was to become one of the most influential philosophical tracts of the next thousand years, The Consolation of Philosophy.

Boethius is himself the narrator of the book. He speculates on being visited, in his pl
The Consolation of Philosophy is about listening to your inner Voice of Reason. Boethius, the author, personified our conscience by employing a feature familiar to his audience, an imaginary dialogue between self and one’s muse, who in his case was Lady Philosophy. This technique and the ensuing exchange reminded me of similar literary encounters with mythical beings. I could visualize her as Tolkien’s Galadriel appearing (to Frodo) when most needed bringing astutely applicable advice also of a ...more
Written by Boethius while under arrest for allegedly plotting against the Ostrogothic King.

Boethius writes out conversations, interspersed with poems, between himself and a personification of Philosophy who encourages him to reject concerns with the world and concentrate on the eternal instead. While cursing his evil fortune, Philosophy appears and upbraids Boethius for abandoning her and devoting himself to worldly concerns instead of learning and Christianity. As the dialogues progress, Boethi
Preface and Acknowledgements
Summary of the Treatise
Note on the Text
Select Bibliography
A Chronology of Boethius' Life and Times

--The Consolation of Philosophy

Explanatory Notes
Index and Glossary of Names
Julie Davis
May 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I never heard of The Consolation of Philosophy by Boethius until a couple of years ago when a friend mentioned, somewhat diffidently, that she was reading it. She said just enough to intrigue me and the book looked intriguingly short. It went onto my mental "read someday" list and that was as far as I got.

Until now. Corey Olsen's first Mythgard Academy class on The Consolation of Philosophy hit my iTunes feed. I've mentioned the Mythgard classes before, especially those to do with the Lord of th
I first read Boethius's The Consolation of Philosophy several years ago, before I ended up studying philosophy more formally. I greatly appreciated it back then, and, when I recently felt the urge to revisit it, I decided to try this new translation by David R. Slavitt, figuring that I'd not only reread it, but also re-experience it (which is what a new translation often helps you do). The translation is very contemporary and verging on the informal, which makes it highly readable. I personally ...more
Confused at how to rate this one.

As a work of late Antiquity literature it is a masterpiece (beautifully translated by Mr. Slavitt) and I am happy to have read it, specially the first three books, which deal with human happiness and how to achieve it. Readers of self-help books (self-help, pffft!) would be better off reading this than the vacuous, laughable books of our time.

As a theological work, it is less than convincing. Books IV and V remind me of Augustine's 'City of God', circular reason
the gift
171118: reinterpretation/reuse of ancient greek philosophy arguments by imprisoned roman executed in 526, primarily expounded as moral instructions, later used to support christian metaphysics as will develop in medieval centuries. readable layers of translations, poetry rendered prose, some context in plato texts (as translated in 1892?), some commentary/critiques.... probably more interesting if you like medieval philosophy...
Roy Lotz
Jul 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
“He would have been remarkably in any age; in the age in which he lived, he is utterly amazing.”
—Betrand Russell on Boethius.

First of all, this is a beautiful book. Boethius—himself in a horrible situation—strives to use the extent of his philosophic powers to condole others who are suffering, and to maintain a positive view of humanity and the universe. That the man could have written this while awaiting death shows that he was a true philosopher—I probably would have spent my time in jail wri
Chelsea Rae
this translation was super readable but that's not even what i want to write about. listen. listen. this book was printed with 1.5 spacing and it is INCREDIBLE. you can underline things without crossing out the line beneath! you don't have to squint at the page! reading experience 10000% improved by the layout of this edition.
Apr 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
There is really nothing I can add to the body of praise and criticism on this work, so I will make my comments as simple and subjective as possible.

If read in a certain way, Boethius's work is still applicable as a sort of self-help guide to those suffering life's sinister doldrums. Its central idea is that there is suffering, but that such suffering can be okay. Some of the philosophy is a reflection of earlier work (Aristotle makes a number of appearances), but the ground that Boethius re-cov
Feb 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: omnibus, re-read
Absolutely beautiful book. Boethius takes the best of Classical philosophy--its classical allusions, its vivid images, and its profound ideas--and puts them together, showing how philosophy can bring us up from the misfortune of life.

While Lady Philosophy's God is chillingly Unitarian and I would fiercely deny this is a Christian work [Gak! This was from my Social Trinitarian days; sophomoric], Boethius brings Classic Philosophy up to the best it can ever be. For that, it earns a very high place
Dec 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
As with most I things I read, I have more questions than consolation. It isn’t that I don’t find philosophy comforting, because I do, but Boethius’s particular brand has left me more befuddled than comforted. However, as a subjective account of someone’s experience, I like it very much and I find it stimulating.

Boethius is in jail awaiting death and works through his feelings about evil and Providence with a visit from Philosophy personified. The first three books are largely concerned with layi
May 28, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Consolation of Philosophy was arguably the second most important text in Western Thought, after the Bible, for more than a thousand years. It was widely read and studied, translated (from the original Latin) by a broad range of people including King Alfred, Queen Elizabeth I, and Geoffrey Chaucer. In a day before printing, when books had to be hand-copied, a copy could be found in almost every serious reader's library.

Boethius was central figure in 6th Century Rome. In addition to holding h
David Huff
Oct 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio-book
This book, short in length but immeasurably deep in impact, was one of my nicest reading surprises in quite a while. Boethius, a important Roman official sentenced to death on charges of which he maintained his innocence, wrote this beautiful book from his cell in about 523 A.D.

It is the account of his vision of, and subsequent dialog with, Lady Philosophy, who appeared to him while he was imprisoned. In our vernacular, we would say they discussed reasons Why Bad Things Happen To Good People. A
Like if Augustine had taken a few too many dank rips from his neoplatonism bong. I suppose if I were on death row I too would write a self insert fanfic about my waifu.
Cindy Rollins
Apr 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
Because I had read so many of the books which were born out of Boethius's thoughts before reading this, I did not find this life-changing, but I am glad that I read it finally. It is good to go back and see where the stream started.
May 11, 2015 rated it it was ok
As other reviewers have mentioned, dead useful as a background text to medieval Western literature - because it was the background text of medieval Western literature. It is clear and relatively easy to follow. As far as its consolatory abilities, I'm a little more dubious. The entire consolation hinges on the fact that God exists, and, well, if that foundation is shaky, then we can't say much about what's built upon it. Can it be read today with its original intentions? Perhaps. I found the sor ...more
Jesse Broussard
Mar 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
How absolutely delightful: an honest use for Philosophy. Never again will I agree with Edward de Vere that there was never yet philosopher that could endure the toothache patiently: here is a man who endured a dungeon and finally an unjust death. Here is yet another example of the proof that "Wisdom infinite must form the best" world; if it took the torment of Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius to create his magnum opus, which of us would deny that, if he must die, as he must, this method of his ...more
Sep 04, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: students of the Dark Ages
One of the most influential books of the Middle Ages, bridging the passing of classical culture and rise of Medieval Europe.

Invaluable aid to understanding the worldview of Medieval man. For a scholarly analysis of what and how, refer to C. S. Lewis's The Discarded Image ISBN 0521477352.

Paradoxically, another complementary text is Thomas Cahill's How the Irish Saved Civilization, (ISBN 0385418493) covering the same period when Boethius' influence was greatest (though Cahill offers Augustine as
Tyler Jones
Dec 09, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: philosophy
I'm not a great student of philosophy, but even I can see Boethius made some rather large errors in logic. As a result the conclusions he came to are sometimes a little ridiculous. This is the kind of thinking that Voltaire would make cat food of many centuries later. Still, as a window to the intellectual mind of the citizen of the middle ages, this book is valuable, and it may even serve to illustrate many philosophical mistakes we continue to make today.
Noah Goats
Feb 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
I first became aware of this book when I read A Confederacy of Dunces years and years ago. It's Ignatius Reilly's favorite book and he references Fortuna and her wheel several times. As I read Roman and Medieval history I kept bumping into Boethius, the last of the Romans and the first of the Medieval men. He was both a victim of Rome's collapse and a light of philosophy whose work had a powerful influence throughout the dark ages.

I have finally read The Consolation of Philosophy and I can see w
Rick Davis
This book was a pure pleasure to read. Engaging and winsome, Boethius filters Plato and Aristotle through a medieval, Christian lens. I don't know why I hadn't gotten around to reading it before now.
Oct 06, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: folio-scoiety
For the benefit of his Latin readers, his genius submitted to teach the first elements of the arts and sciences of Greece. The geometry of Euclid, the music of Pythagoras, the arithmetic of Nicomachus, the mechanics of Archimedes, the astronomy of Ptolemy, the theology of Plato, and the logic of Aristotle, with the commentary of Porphyry, were translated and illustrated by the indefatigable pen of the Roman senator.

While Boethius, oppressed with fetters, expected each moment the sentence or the
I can't think of a book whose title was more appropriate than this one. I had imagined this book would be about the consolations the author had received from the study of philosophy. And I suppose this is the case, in a sense. The title can also be read rather more literally. The book opens with Boethius feeling sad, but then who should manifest in front of him with the purpose of consoling him? The statue of liberty! Sorry, I mean, the physical embodiment of philosophy!

While I was quietly think
Aung Sett Kyaw Min
Mar 04, 2019 rated it it was ok
The assumption that all things animate and inanimate innately strive for goodness figures prominently in Lady Philosophy’s ‘cure’ for the state of despair in which Boethius found himself. It is this assumption, which is arguably teleological in nature, which also informs her lessons on the positive role of Fortune, the imperfection in perishable good, and the goodness in the punishment that the wicked receive. Meaning that there is still something to be salvaged in the moment the drive towards h ...more
Oct 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At this point, I think of God as a concept you either grant or don't. The constraints of any discipline by which we aim to prove or disprove the unlimited divine are insurmountable, as most of our thinking and the vocabulary it's built upon is an exploration of limits.

I'm not arguing the idea, but I thought it was worth mentioning because it framed my reading of Boethius.

I've been doing a read-through of Western Philosophy. Boethius's appearance into the arena of Western thought is nicely situat
Dave Maddock
I'm told that medievals thought Boethius was the man. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis also apparently thought his argumentation was compelling. Then I started a class on Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde which is steeped in Boethian thought. So, after years of hearing how great this guy was I finally decided that I had to read this book. How disappointing. It is little more than a case study in the perils of motivated reasoning.

The book addresses four related metaphysical problems: why bad things happen to
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Anicius Manlius Severinus Boëthius, commonly called Boethius (bow-EE-thee-us; ca. 480–524 or 525 AD) was a philosopher of the early 6th century. He was born in Rome to an ancient and prominent family which included emperors Petronius Maximus and Olybrius and many consuls. His father, Flavius Manlius Boethius, was consul in 487 after Odoacer deposed the last Western Roman Emperor. Boethius, of the ...more
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