The Consolation of Philosophy

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The Consolation of Philosophy (De Consolatione Philosophiae) is a Latin text written by Boethius in the early 6th Century. It was written while the author was in prison awaiting execution. The text reflects the title: the story begins with the author imprisoned and feeling melancholy; Philosophy (here personified as a beautiful woman) appears and consoles him. It is written in the first person and alternates between poetry and prose. It was a favorite of Medieval European scholars and made the ancient concept of the Wheel of Fortune familiar.

Although Boethius was a Christian and the text is full of philosophical and spiritual ideas and frequently uses the word God, it makes no outright reference to Christianity. Although Christianity influences the text, it is important to understand Boethius’s identity as a Roman. While writing, he experienced the fall of Rome and his own imprisonment. Coupled with his own rise and fall on the Wheel of Fortune, the Roman Empire has been destroyed. The imprisoned author draws on the Greco-Roman legacy of Philosophy for comfort.

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