Who was Boethius?

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Stephen Holliday | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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Boethius was most well-known for three major works--the first was his translation, which was never completed, of Aristotle's works from Greek to Latin.  Even though it was not completed, his translation provided the foundation for much of medieval philosophy.  The second major accomplishment was a series of textbooks on what he called the quadrivium--music, geometry, arithmetic and astronomy--and these texts  were in use for several centuries.  His most well-known and widely-read work is called The Consolation of Philosophy, which he wrote in prison while waiting for his execution on false charges of heresy.  The Consolation analyzes the difficulties inherent in dealing with good and evil in daily life, and such things as whether man truly has free will if God already knows what will happen to every individual.

The Consolation was considered so important in Western thought that it was translated into Anglo-Saxon by King Alfred, into Middle English by Chaucer and John Lydgate, and before the end of the Middle Ages, into French, Italian, and Spanish.  It is still read today as a model of how a particular philosophical view of life can help one through seemingly insurmountable problems.

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Boethius was a Roman statesman and philosopher.  He was born in 480 and died in 524 or 525 CE.  He is most famous for his philosophical works and for the fact that he is seen as a martyr for the Christian faith.  He is recognized as a saint by the Catholic Church.

As a philosopher, Boethius was a bridge between earlier "pagan" philosophers and Christian thinking.  He was influenced by thinkers like Plato and Aristotle and by the Stoics.  At the same time, though, he was Christian and tried to combine Christian teachings with those earlier ideas to create his own system for ethical living.

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