The Consolation of Philosophy

by Boethius

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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

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.

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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