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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 225

The Consolation of Philosophy was written by Boethius during his year in prison before his execution. Boethius was the magister officiorum in Rome, meaning he was one of the highest administrative officials at the time. He was imprisoned and executed on charges of treason, although Boethius protested that the witnesses were corrupted and the charges were false.

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The Consolation of Philosophy dealt with the themes of religion, God, and evil, and how they can coexist. In the book, Boethius talks with Lady Philosophy, who consoles him as he approaches his death. Boethius can’t understand how at one time he was an important member of the Roman government, and now he is imprisoned. He questions how God could let that happen, and what purpose there is to being good if this is a possible result. Lady Philosophy says that happiness is an internal rather than an external thing. Boethius should try to find peace and not allow his happiness be tied to his former position. The book gives readers insight into Boethius’ mind as he wrestles with his impending death, as well as offers arguments and ideas about good, evil, and the point of living righteously.

The Consolation of Philosophy ties together philosophy and religion and is inspired by Plato and Aristotle, and likely Christianity, although Boethius never states outright that he is a Christian.


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Last Updated on May 7, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 358

This classic of prison literature bears all the marks of great Roman philosophical writing. Formulated as a dialogue between the prisoner Boethius and Lady Philosophy, it exhibits the unique Roman quality of combining literary appeal with technical philosophy. Philosophy in Greece was for the most part academic and theoretical, but when transplanted to Rome, it became the basis for a way of life, as did Stoicism. It is often said that philosophy in Rome was eclectic and unoriginal; it is more accurate to say that the original Roman element was to mold philosophy into forms that could deal effectively with serious and perennial human problems. Like other philosophical writers of the era, Boethius took full advantage of his knowledge of Plato, Aristotle, the Stoics, and Neoplatonism, blending classical sources as the means to develop his own views. His attempt was not to construct a novel metaphysics but to apply philosophical views to the solution of pressing problems—particularly his own need to reconcile his fall from prominence into political imprisonment that would eventually result in his death.

Boethius opens with a lament about the sudden reversal of his circumstances, a lot that has reduced him from the role of a consul to that of a prisoner in a dungeon near Milan. As he accuses Fortune of being fickle, Philosophy, in the form of a fair lady, appears to him in his cell and attempts to answer his doubts about the justice of the world. She joins him in lamenting his present plight but tells him it is time to search for healing rather than to complain. She chides him for his lack of courage in his present state, reminding him of Plato’s struggle and of Socrates’ valiant death. Philosophers, she tells him, have always been at variance with the ways of humankind and therefore have always been subject to attack. To oppose evil people is the chief aim of all philosophers, a course that cannot help leading them into trouble repeatedly. Therefore, philosophers must learn to reconcile their lives to fate, to conquer the fear of death, and to show themselves unyielding to good and bad alike.

The Question of Justice

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Last Updated on May 7, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 442

Ever since human beings have been able to speak, they have complained that their just lives have...

(The entire section contains 3797 words.)

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