- Series: Penguin Classics
- Paperback: 155 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Classics; Revised Edition edition (May 1, 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0140447806
- ISBN-13: 978-0140447804
- Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.5 x 7.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (118 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #49,753 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Consolation of Philosophy (Penguin Classics) Revised Edition Edition
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Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Latin
From the Back Cover
The Consolation of Philosophy is perhaps unique in the nature and extent of its influence on Western thinking.
An eminent public figure under the Gothic emperor Theodoric, Boethius (c. A D 475-525) was also an exceptional Greek scholar and it was to the Greek philosophers that he turned when he fell from favour and was imprisoned in Pavia. Written in the period leading up to his brutal execution, it is a dialogue of alternating prose and verse between the ailing prisoner and his 'nurse' Philosophy, whose instruction on the nature of fortune and happiness, good and evil, fate and free will, restore his health and bring him to enlightenment.
The clarity of Boethius's thought and his breadth of vision made The Consolation of Philosophy hugely popular throughout medieval Europe and his ideas suffused the thought of Chaucer and Dante. This translation makes it accessible to the modern reader while losing nothing of Boethius's poetic artistry and philosophical brilliance.
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Top Customer Reviews
I recently had the pleasure of reading the book, The Consolation of Philosophy by Boethius. Here are some thoughts that popped into my head while I was reading:
"How is it that this book isn't more famous?"
"How has it taken me so long to read this?"
"Everyone should read this."
This book is truly genius. I will probably read it several more times because this is one of the most honest books, second to the Bible, that I've ever read (so far). I cannot recommend it more highly. If I were to compare it to any book of the the Bible I would have to say it has choices traces of Job, Habakkuk, Jonah, Psalm 73, Philippians, Proverbs, and most of all Ecclesiastes intertwined into it. Moreover, it's saturated in Platonism and contains some remnants of Stoicism and Epicurianism, merely for the sake of showing those philosophies to be false.
What's It About?
The author, Boethius is in prison awaiting his death while writing this book and he is coming to grips with the injustice he is experiencing at the hands of wicked men that have falsely charged him with treason. He asks questions that we have all asked such as, "Why do good people suffer?", "If God is good why does evil exist?" "If there's no God where does good come from?"
Every question and complaint he has is confronted and resolved with sound reasoning by a woman who is the personification of Philosophy.
We have all been falsely accused before, or wronged by our neighbor, or simply an unfortunate event has occurred to us and we have probably asked God, "Why me?"
Philosophy shows Boethius that "Why me?" is the wrong question. She reasons that if you play in "Fortune's playground", change is her very nature and you cannot expect anything but "inconstancy". Furthermore she argues that since we were born naked into this world and all of life's blessings are Fortune's gifts, what right have we to complain when Fortune withdraws those gifts since they are hers to give and not ours in the first place?
Consider the rich, who are born with Fortune's good will, "how trivial are the things that can detract from the...happiness of a man at the top of fortune." She concludes, that the very inconstancy of Fortune proves that "[She] by her very mutability can't hope to lead to happiness." Moreover, "...happiness can't consist in things governed by chance..."
If you are playing Fortune's game, you may win or you may lose. All is up to chance and randomness. But true wisdom will teach us that "you are...happy...then, if you know where your true happiness lies." It ought not to lie in things of Fortune, governed by chance, for in a moment those things can be gained or lost, and they provide only a temporal happiness, so happiness ought to be in things that are governed by God who is as faithful as the morning star.
This book is a theodicy, which means its an answer to the "problem of evil". Believe it or not, but the so called "problem", when dealt with correctly, just might change your life. This book will cause you to realize that "Fortune's playground" is no place to live life. Nor is there any right for us to complain when all "good and evil" is merely the giving and withdrawing of Fortune (in our modern language we use the word "grace"), which no man has done anything to earn. Consider the poor man, how merely a small blessing will make him glad, and how the rich man is not satisfied with anything but the best. It is better to be poor and grateful than rich and unsatisfied, "for no man is rich who shakes and groans convinced that he needs more." Still more, once you realize Fortune's "unreliability" she is "deprive[d] [of] her threats...and [the] enticements of [her] allure."
May we be free from the wheel of Fortune, and not make "...her as the mistress to rule [our] life...", and may we, whether we have good or bad fortune (grace), place our happiness in the eternal things of God, who never changes.
Having enjoyed a life of privilege, honour and comfort, Boethius found himself imprisoned for treason. The accusations against him were baseless but Boethius knew he was going to be executed anyway. (And he was)
While imprisoned alone in his dungeon cell, Boethius engaged in imaginary conversations and debates with Fortune and Philosophy on such topics as Fate, Philosophy and the fickleness of Fortune. He managed to write out these thoughts and his writings were published after his death.
The result was this timeless classic. This free Kindle download is certainly worth having. The translation is well done and should be easy for modern readers to follow.