Boethius and Dialogue

Boethius and Dialogue: Literary Method in the Consolation of Philosophy

SETH LERER
Copyright Date: 1985
Pages: 276
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt7zv1z8
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  • Book Info
    Boethius and Dialogue
    Book Description:

    This book treats Boethius' Consolation of Philosophy as a work of imaginative literature, and applies modern techniques of criticism to his writings. The author's central purpose is to demonstrate the methodological and thematic coherence of The Consolation of Philosophy.

    Originally published in 1985.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5765-4
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. A NOTE ON TEXTS
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xi-2)
  5. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 3-13)

    This study’s central purpose is to demonstrate the thematic and methodological coherence of theConsolation of Philosophy. In grounding theConsolationboth in Late Antique literary history and in the corpus of Boethius’ writings, the book first outlines a tradition of literary and philosophical dialogue through close readings of selected Latin authors from the first to the sixth century; second, it shows how Boethius established throughout his literary career—in his early commentaries, translations, and logical and theological works—a consistent persona of reader and writer beset by the impediments of cultural decline and the hindrances of a hostile audience....

  6. CHAPTER I READERS AND WRITERS: TRADITIONS OF THE LATIN DIALOGUE
    (pp. 14-93)

    Years before his imprisonment prompted the writing ofThe Consolation of Philosophy, Boethius characterized his own program of study in his commentary on Aristotle’sPerihermeneias. In these now famous lines, Boethius outlined a lifetime project of reading, translating, interpreting, and reconciling the works of Aristotle and Plato.

    I shall translate into Latin every work of Aristotle’s that comes into my hands, and I shall write commentaries on all of them; any subtlety of logic, any depth of moral insight, any perception of scientific truth that Aristotle has set down, I shall arrange, translate, and illuminate by the light of a...

  7. CHAPTER II THE SEARCH FOR VOICE
    (pp. 94-123)

    Chapter I of this study began and ended with approaches to the Boethian persona from both historical and critical perspectives. As an intellectual in a decaying world, he read and wrote within the closed confines of the study and the literary circle. His attitudes towards dedicatee and public are couched in the idioms of Late Antique prose. There is also an individual unity to Boethius’ work: creating the figure of a writer obsessed with beginnings, plans, and the shape of a career written through the texts he has produced and read. Parallels with the dialogues of Cicero, Augustine, and Fulgentius...

  8. CHAPTER III LANGUAGE AND LOSS IN BOOK THREE
    (pp. 124-165)

    The third book of theConsolationis perhaps the most philosophically rewarding and the most methodologically subtle of all the dialogue’s sections. Containing the great Timean hymn (m.9), the long discourse on earthly goods (pr.3-9), the intricate Platonic arguments of prosa 12, and the enigmatic poem on Orpheus (m. 12), the book challenges the prisoner’s expressive and interpretive abilities. It is little wonder that the book has stimulated more criticism than any other part of theConsolation. Most readers have found in it the heart of Boethius’ Platonic thought and imagery.¹ Structurally, the book has traditionally been seen as dividing...

  9. CHAPTER IV READINGS AND REWRITINGS IN BOOK FOUR
    (pp. 166-202)

    By the beginning of Book Four the prisoner has grown from a writer of complaint to a reader of moral fable. From his first, insecure autobiographical statements of Book One, he has moved towards a confident reading of mythological poetry. At one level, the prisoner develops literary abilities and a gradual awareness of the moral implications of poetry. From the whores of the theater he has turned to Philosophy’s Muses; from taking dictation, he is capable of finding inspiration. At another level, his responses point to a change in the focus and subject matter of the metra themselves. While the...

  10. CHAPTER V A NEW BEGINNING
    (pp. 203-236)

    The sequence of mythological poems from the close of Book Three to the close of Book Four had provided a framework for an allegorical reading of the prisoner’s growth as well as an insight into Boethius’ own experience of Greek and Latin literature and criticism. Parallel with this sequence was the narrative development of the prisoner’s education as a philosopher which had been presented in the prosae. The prisoner and Philosophy redefined their roles along the lines of literary authority and methodological competence. These developments might suggest that by the close of Book Four Boethius has neatly concluded the central...

  11. APPENDIX SENECA’S PLAYS IN The Consolation of Philosophy
    (pp. 237-254)
  12. INDEX OF NAMES AND SUBJECTS
    (pp. 255-262)
  13. INDEX OF LATIN TERMS
    (pp. 263-264)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 265-265)