The Consolation of Philosophy

The Consolation of Philosophy

The Consolation of Philosophy

The Consolation of Philosophy

Synopsis

Boethius composed the Consolatio Philosophiae in the sixth century AD whilst awaiting death under torture. The circumstances of composition, the heroic demeanor of the author, and the `Menippean' texture have combined to exercise a fascination over students of philosophy and of literature ever since. Professor Walsh has included an introduction and explanatory notes which combined with his new translation make the text accessible to general readers and scholars alike.

Excerpt

I who with zest✳ penned songs in happier days,
Must now with grief embark on sombre lays.
Sad verses flood my cheeks with tears unfeigned;
The Muses who inspire me are blood-stained.
Yet they at least were not deterred by dread; 5
They still attend me on the path I tread.
I gloried in them, in my youth's full spate;
In sad old age they now console my fate.
My woes have caused old age's sudden speed;
Additional years my sorrow has decreed. 10
White hairs upon my crown untimely came,
And trembling wrinkles sag on my spent frame.
Death finds no welcome in contented life,
But is oft summoned when distress is rife.
Alas, Death turns deaf ears to my sad cries, 15
And cruel, will not close my weeping eyes.
While fickle Fortune transient goods did show,
One bitter hour could almost bring me low;
Now she's put on her clouded, treacherous gaze,
My impious life spins out unwanted days. 20
Why did you harp, my friends, on my renown?
My steps were insecure; I tumbled down.

These were the silent reflections which I nursed in my heart. 1
My dutiful pen was putting the last touches to my tearful lament,
when a lady seemed to position herself above my head.✳ She was
most awe-inspiring to look at, for her glowing eyes penetrated
more powerfully than those of ordinary folk, and a tireless energy
was reflected in her heightened colour. At the same time she was
so advanced in years that she could not possibly be regarded as a
contemporary. Her height was hard to determine, for it varied; at 2
one moment she confined herself to normal human dimensions,
but at another the crown of her head seemed to strike the . . .

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