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Sunday, 6 January 2013

Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius

In 523 Boethius (480-524), who was the head of the civil service and chief of the palace officials for Theodoric The Great in Rome was arrested on suspicion of secret dealings with Theodoric’s enemies in Constantinople. During his time in prison awaiting execution, he wrote The Consolation of Philosophy, which encouraged man to find consolation through meditation and prayer.

In The Consolation of Philosophy, a lady, Philosophy, responds to Boethius' account of his misfortunes with Stoic, Platonic, and Christian advice. 


Boethius also wrote five theological treatises, which systematically applied the logic of Aristotle to Christian theology. They earned him the label of the first of the scholastic philosophers- one who attempts to use philosophy to explain Christian faith.

Boethius famously claimed that it is wrong to say what God is. Instead we should say what God is not, since the moment we say what he is we reduce him, thus diminishing him to the level of our inadequate thoughts and even more inadequate language.

Boethius' On Music introduced Greek music theory to the West, notoriously mixing up the modes (e.g. ancient Phrygian become modern Dorian) . It would be Western standard for 1,000 years.


During the Middle Ages The Consolation of Philosophy was a much-revered work and English translations were written by Alfred the Great, Geoffrey Chaucer, and Queen Elizabeth I.  

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