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Boethius' consolation

While reading C. S. Lewis's last work, The Discarded Image: An Introduction to Medieval and Renaissance Literature, I was introduced to Boethius, or more specifically, Anicius Manlius Severinus Bo√ęthius (AD 480 -- 524).  He was a very influential author, bridging the Roman classical / early Christian periods and the Medieval world.  

He was imprisoned the last couple years of his life, and died at age 44.  His best known work is The Consolation of Philosophy, written right before he died.  Here's just a couple of excerpts of an imaginary conversation with Lady Philosophy...

On discontent...

"What though Plenty pour her gifts 
With a lavish hand, 
Numberless as are the stars, 
Countless as the sand, 
Will the race of man, content, 
Cease to murmur and lament? 
Nay, though God, all-bounteous, give 
Gold at man’s desire — 
Honours, rank, and fame — content 
Not a whit is nigher; 
But an all-devouring greed 
Yawns with ever-widening need. 
Then what bounds can e’er restrain 
This wild lust of having, 
When with each new bounty fed 
Grows the frantic craving? 
He is never rich whose fear 
Sees grim Want forever near."

On changing fortunes...

"Smooth and tranquil lies the deep 
While the winds are hushed in sleep. 
Soon, when angry tempests lash, 
Wild and high the billows dash. 
Thus if Nature’s changing face 
Holds not still a moment’s space, 
Fleeting deem man’s fortunes; deem 
Bliss as transient as a dream. 
One law only standeth fast: 
Things created may not last."

~ Boethius, The Consolation of Philosophy (AD 524)


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