"Boethius." 2004. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly no. 78:175-348.
Contents: Siobhan Nash-Marshall: Editor's Introduction 175; Claudio Micaelli: Boethian Reflections on God: Between Logic and Metaphysics 181;
Joseph W. Koterski: Boethius and the Theological Origins of the Concept of Person 203; Siobhan Nash-Marshall: God, Simplicity, and the Consolatio
Philosophiae 225; Jonathan Evans: Boethius on Modality and Future Contingents 247; M. V. Dougherty: The Problem of Humana Natura in the
Consolatio Philosophiae of Boethius 273; John R. Fortin: The Nature of Consolation in the Consolation of Philosophy 293; Paul J. Lachance:
Boethius on Human Freedom 309; John Marenbon: Boethius and the Problem of Paganism 329-348.
Arlig, Andrew W. 2005. A Study in Early Medieval Mereology: Boethius, Abelard, and Pseudo-Joscelin, Ohio State University.
Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation (available on line).
Chapter 3: Boethius and the Early Mereological Tradition, pp. 62-140.
"In what follows I will examine the mereological tradition founded by Aristotle and presented to the early medieval West by Boethius. Given
the paucity of what was available from Aristotle's extensive opera, it is no surprise that some important concepts are not carried over to the early medieval
period, or if they do appear, they often do so in a distorted form. Sometimes this omission and distortion is attributable to Boethius. Boethius' logical works
are almost without exception introductory treatises. As one would expect from introductory textbooks, Boethius' treatment of mereology often glides over
complexities, which a more advanced work would stop to address. Hence, Boethius' remarks about parts and wholes are often general and devoid of nuance.
It is by no means clear that Boethius actually has a theory of parts and wholes. He might, as some of his contemporary interpreters have
urged, be merely parroting remarks he finds in elementary, (probably) neoplatonic textbooks without worrying whether these remarks are consistent. (49) I will
not assume that this is the case from the start. Rather, I will attempt as best as I can to reconstruct Boethius' metaphysics of mereology. This reconstruction
will require that I piece together stray remarks, think through the specific examples that he gives, and generally extrapolate from an admittedly sparse
collection of rules, examples and hints. My method carries the risk of yielding not Boethius' theory of parts and wholes, but rather a Boethian theory. But
this is the same risk that Abelard, Pseudo-Joscelin, and all the thinkers of the early medieval period took when attempting to piece Boethius' remarks into a
coherent metaphysics of mereology." (pp. 64-65).
(49) Some have argued that Boethius’ De divisione is derived from Porphyry’s lost commentary on the Sophist. Andrew Smith
reprints the entire De Div. as 169F in his edition of Porphyry’s fragments. On his reasons for inclusion consult his introduction (Frag. x-xii).
Others suggest that Boethius had two sources, one being Porphyry’s commentary and the second being a treatise on division by Andronicus of Rhodes.
Magee concludes that Porphyry’s prolegomena to his Sophist commentary is the direct source of Boethius’ De divisione.
However, he does not discount the possibility that Andronicus is an indirect source, nor does he discount the possibility that some of the material in De
divisione is original to Boethius (1998, lv-lvii).
One of the reasons that scholars suspect that Boethius borrows from more than one source is that there are problems with Boethius’
presentation of the modes of division (Zachhuber 2000, 88-89).
Zachhuber, J. 2000. Human nature in Gregory of Nyssa: Philosophical background and theological significance. Supplements to Vigiliae
Christianae, no. 46. Leiden: E. J. Brill.
———. 2009. "The Metaphysics of Individuals in the Opuscula sacra." In The Cambridge Companion to Boethius, edited by
Marenbon, John, 129-154. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
"Three of the five treatises that comprise the Opuscula sacra [= OS] contain interesting philosophical material. (1) All three
treatises attempt to make aspects of God intelligible using Greek philosophical concepts.
The treatise Quomodo substantiae (OS III) discusses how something can be essentially predicated of both God and His creatures.
On the Trinity (OS I) and Against Eutyches and Nestorius (OS V) are concerned with the individuality and unity of, respectively, God and
Christ. Along the way to formulating his solution to his chosen puzzles, Boethius presents some of the elements of a general theory of individuals.
In this chapter we will concentrate on the general theory of individuals that can be reconstructed from Boethius’ Opuscula. (2) The
theological treatises are not the only places that he discusses individuals, and at times we will make use of Boethius’ commentaries on Aristotle and Porphyry
to flesh out some of his remarks. (3)
Nonetheless, we will focus on the account of individuals that can be reconstructed from the theological treatises for two reasons. First,
this account has exerted a tremendous influence on subsequent generations. Second, Boethius admits that his main role in the logical commentaries is to present
a sympathetic elucidation of Aristotle’s or Porphyry’s views. (4) The doctrines in the Opuscula presumably are Boethius’ own.
After we have examined and reconstructed Boethius’ general treatment of individuals, we will finish this chapter by asking whether this
general account of individuals can illuminate the nature of the Incarnation and the Trinity." (p. 129)
In his Opuscula sacra, Boethius presents some of the elements of a metaphysical theory of individuals. He does not flesh out his
But what he does tell us is tantalizing. It is little wonder that Boethius’ brief and incomplete treatments of individuals captured the
imagination of numerous medieval philosophers. (29) The elements of the theory of individuals that he presents in the Opuscula are marshaled in order
to make the Incarnation and Trinity intelligible in so far as these Divine truths can be made intelligible to the unaided human intellect. Our assessment has
been that Boethius comes up short. But then again, Boethius admits that his task is doomed to fail.
These inadequacies, however, should not detract from the importance of Boethius’ Opuscula. The student of medieval metaphysics
should begin with Boethius. Boethius defines the problems that will inspire generations of philosophers, and he gestures toward many of the solutions that
subsequent philosophers will offer." (p. 151)
(1) All references are to the Latin edition by Claudio Moreschini (Boethius 2000), in the format of number of the opusculum, followed by its
section and the line of the edition. As an aid to students who do not have much Latin, citations of passages from the Opuscula will include a
reference to the corresponding English passage in the Loeb edition (Boethius 1973).
The Loeb edition is still the only volume that contains a complete English translation of the Opuscula. For a good, recent English
translation of Quomodo substantiae see MacDonald 1991b. A good, recent translation of On the Trinity is Kenyon 2004. There is a new French
translation of Quomodo substantiae with commentary in Galonnier 2007. Galonnier’s translations of On the Trinity and Against
Eutyches are to appear in a future volume [Opuscola sacra II, Louvain: Peeters, 2013].
(2) For this reason, we will not be able to touch upon many of the interesting and puzzling aspects of the Quomodo substantiae. The
third theological treatise is an extremely difficult one, and there is significant disagreement over its structure and meaning. For introductions to
Quomodo substantiae see Marenbon 2003a, 87–94 and Chadwick 1981, 203–11.
For detailed studies see De Rijk 1988; MacDonald 1988; and McInerny 1990, 161–98. There are book-length studies by Schrimpf (1966)) and
Siobhan Nash-Marshall (2000), and a detailed commentary by Galonnier (2007). Pierre Hadot’s interpretation of Boethius has been extremely influential. See, in
particular, Hadot 1963 and 1970. Recently there has been a lot of work on Boethius’ metaphysical Opuscula in Italian. For example, see Maioli 1978;
Micaelli 1988 and 1995.
(3) For a survey of Boethius’ remarks on individuals and individuation that carefully considers not only the Opuscula sacra, but
also the logical commentaries, see Gracia 1984, Chapter 2, 65–121.
(4) For example, in his famous discussion of universals Boethius announces that he has provided an Aristotelian solution to the problem
because he is commenting on an Aristotelian treatise, not because it is the best solution (2IS [Second Commentary on Isagoge] 167.17–20; English
translation in Spade 1994, 25).
(29) On Boethius’ influence in general see the next chapter. [Christophe Erismann, The medieval fortunes of the Opuscola sacra, pp.
155-177] For Boethius’ influence on medieval ruminations on the metaphysics of individuals, start by consulting Gracia 1984; Spade 1985 I, Chapter 23; and King
Bark, William. 1946. "Boethius’ Fourth Tractate, the So-Called De Fide Catholica." Harvard Theological Review no.
"The exact status of the fourth tractate included among the Opuscula Sacra of Boethius is still uncertain, though the other
theological works are now almost universally accepted as genuine. Boethian scholars of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were generally
inclined to reject Tractate IV. (1)" (p. 55)
"Another possibility, more prosaic, corresponds better with what we know about the treatise. Tr. IV is simple and brief, but it is not
incomplete. It is so written, with energy, with conviction, and with sensitiveness, as to be exceedingly impressive. There are, in addition, definite
indications of a didactic motive on the part of the author. (46) Because of these considerations, I wonder if it is not more likely that Boethius meant it to
be a guide for the layman. We know that the doctrinal questions of Boethius' day, especially those of Oriental origin, were very confusing to ordinary Western
Christians, who were interested in them but for obvious reasons could not always distinguish between the orthodox and the heretical. We know also that there
were attempts both by the Scythians and by their opponents in Rome to win public support. (47) It has already been shown that Boethius' theology was very close
to the Scythian; whether their alliance was openly avowed or not, we do not yet know. Boethius unquestionably understood the Eastern doctrines then being
discussed so widely in Rome better than any of his countrymen. Perhaps he and his friends thought it advisable for him to turn from his highly specialized
theological works to edify, to protect, and if possible, to win over the Romans. That would accord with the strange weaving together of Trinitarian doctrine
and a compact narrative of Christian history. In that fabric nothing is clearer than the importance the writer put upon his Trinitarian teaching, which he
proclaimed one of the fundamental doctrines of the Catholic
faith." (pp. 68-69)
(1) Viktor Schurr lists some of those for and against in Die Trinitiitslehre des Boethius im Lichte der "skythischen Kontroversen"
(Paderborn, 1935), 8, n. 40. He mistakenly cites August Hildebrand as supporting the authenticity of the document.
(46) Lines 94-96 and 247-253. Note Schurr's comment, 8-9, n. 46.
(47) For that reason an unknown Scythian compiled the Collectio Palatina and in it appealed to the definitions of Nestorianism and
Eutychianism patriot, John, bishop of Tomi, who was presumably John Maxentius. Dionysius Exiguus made his translations of theological documents for the same
reason. Pope Hormisdas vigorously defended his rather hostile treatment of the Scythians and Maxentius replied. A senator, Faustus by name, asked the presbyter
Trifolius to explain the Scythian formula and Trifolius gave an unfriendly interpretation of the Theopaschite position. Both sides energetically tried to win
the support of senate and people.
Barrett, Helen M. 1940. Boethius: Some Aspects of his Times and Work. New York: Russell & Russell.
Reprint: Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014.
Contents: Preface VII; Chapter I. Introductory 1; II. Western Europe in the Fifth Century a.d. 9; III. Theodoric the Ostrogoth 18; IV.
Boethius the Scholar 33; V. Boethius and Theodoric 44; VI. The Fall of Boethius 57; VII. The Consolation of Philosophy 75; VIII. The Philosophical
Background of the Consolation 102; IX. Eternal Life 123; X. The Theological Writings 139; XI. Boethius and Christianity 153; XII. Conclusion 164;
Bibliography 170; Index 173.
"In writing about Boethius and his work I have had in mind the general reader who is not equipped with any special knowledge of the Classics
or of Philosophy; I have therefore given translations of all passages quoted from Greek and Latin authors. Though I am aware that footnotes are a cause of
irritation to some readers, I have employed them for the double purpose of acknowledging my own indebtedness where it is due and of indicating the sources of
But in addition to the references I make in the course of the book, I wish to express here my special sense of obligation to two writers, Dr
H. F. Stewart and Dr E. K. Rand; to Dr Stewart for his valuable Boethius, An Essay (1891), a book now out of print, to Dr Rand for the chapter he
devotes to Boethius in his Founders of the Middle Ages and for his article “ On the Composition of Boethius’ Consolatio Philosophiae ” in Harvard
Studies in Classical Philology, vol. xv, and to Dr Stewart and Dr Rand jointly for giving in that volume of the Loeb Classical Library Series for which
they are responsible the text and translation of Boethius’s theological writings. This is the only English translation so far as I know of these tractates. My
indebtedness to these two writers is great in spite of the fact that on a number of points I have reached conclusions that are different from theirs."
Betsey, Andrew. 1991. "Boethius and the Consolation of Philosophy, or, how to be a good philosopher." Ratio no. 4:1-15.
Böhm, Thomas, Jürgasch, Thomas, and Kirchner, Andreas, eds. 2014. Boethius as a Paradigm of Late Ancient Thought. Berlin: Walter de
Inhalt: Vorwort 7; John Magee: Boethius’s Consolatio and Plato’s Gorgias 13; Monika Asztalos: Nomen and Vocabulum in
Boethius’s Theory of Predication 31; Margherita Belli: Boethius, disciple of Aristotle and master of theological method. The term i ndemonstrabilis
53; Claudio Moreschini: Subsistentia according to Boethius 83; Thomas Jürgasch: Si divinae iudicium mentis habere possemus. Zu den formalen
Argumentationszielen des Boethius in den Theologischen Traktaten und in der Consolatio Philosophiae 101; Jorge Uscatescu Barrón: Boethius’
Glückseligkeitsbegriff zwischen spätantikem Neuplatonismus und Christentum vor dem Hintergrund einer an Gott orientierten Ethik 147; Andreas Kirchner: Die
Consolatio Philosophiae und das philosophische Denken der Gegenwart. Was uns die Philosophia heute noch lehren kann 171; Fabio Troncarelli:
Boethius from Late Antiquity to the Early Middle Ages 213; John Marenbon: Boethius’s Unparadigmatic Originality and its Implications for Medieval Philosophy
231; Elisabeth Schneider: Naturae rationalis individua substantia. Eine theologische oder juristische Definition der Person? 245-269.
Bradshaw, David. 2009. "The Opuscula sacra: Boethius and theology." In The Cambridge Companion to Boethius, edited by
Marenbon, John, 105-128. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
"The Opuscula sacra are a collection of brief but dense and highly influential theological treatises. Their unquestioning commitment
to Catholic orthodoxy, not to mention their concern over issues of dogma, has seemed to many to be at odds with the philosophical
detachment of Boethius’ other works. For a time in the nineteenth century scholars almost unanimously denied their authenticity, but this
situation was reversed in 1877 with the publication of a fragment from a hitherto unknown work by Cassiodorus. The fragment states that Boethius “wrote a book
concerning the Holy Trinity and certain dogmatic chapters and a book against Nestorius.”(1) This description corresponds nicely to the first, fourth, and fifth
of the treatises that have come down to us. Although the others are not mentioned, since they are included in all the manuscripts, and all save the fourth are
explicitly attributed to Boethius, there seems little reason to doubt them as well. Our concern here will be the relevance of the treatises for revealed
theology, as distinct from their relevance for metaphysics (to be discussed in the next chapter [Andrew Arlig, The metaphysics of individuals in the
Opuscula sacra]). Accordingly we will set aside the third treatise, the so-called Quomodo substantiae or De hebdomadibus, and focus upon
the others." (p. 105)
I have observed that each of the four treatises discussed here is problematic. The problems derive in part from Boethius’ desire to treat
theological issues using a purely philosophical method, and in part from his exclusive reliance on Augustine as a theological authority. In addition, there is
a certain tendency to exaggerate the role of authority itself within theology, as if theology’s sole task were to make authoritative pronouncements which it is
then the job of philosophy to render rationally coherent. This is not a very fruitful way to think of the relationship between the two disciplines. Despite
such problems, however, the treatises remain a remarkable achievement.
Boethius almost single-handedly made philosophy into theology’s indispensable handmaiden, in the process raising theology to a new level of
sophistication. (54) Anyone who finds his views unsatisfactory would do well to consider the challenge posed at the end of the Utrum Pater: “if you
are in any point of another opinion, examine carefully what has been said, and if possible, reconcile faith and reason” [37)]." (pp. 124-125)
(54) As B. E. Daley [‘Boethius’s Theological Tracts and early Byzantine Scholasticism’, Mediaeval Studies 46, 1984, pp. 158–191]
observes, this process occurred almost simultaneously with a similar movement in the Greek-speaking East, so that scholasticism had two more or less
Casey, Gerard. 1987. "An Explication of the De Hebdomadibus of Boethius in the Light of St. Thomas Commentary." Thomist no.
The writings of Ancius Manlius Severinus Boethius exercised a powerful influence on the nature and development of mediaeval philosophy. The
extent of his influence was such that I think it fair to say that anyone seeking more than a superficial grasp of mediaeval philosophy must acquire some
first-hand knowledge of his work. The trouble is, however, that while The Consolation of Philosophy is well-known and much commented upon, Boethius’s
other works are relatively neglected. (1) Included in this latter group are the five theological tractates, one of which has this imposing title: Quomodo
Substantiae In Eo Quod Sint Bonae Sint Cum Non Sint Substantialia Bona. This tractate also has the more manageable title De Hebdomadibus and it
is as such that I shall refer to it throughout this article. (2) I have chosen to give an explication of the De Hebdomadibus for three reasons.
First the problem with which it deals (the nature of the relation between goodness and substance) is intrinsically interesting and Boethius’s
solution to the problem is a model of philosophical analysis. Second, in addition to the fact that the philosophical status of the nine axioms listed in the
tractate is a matter of some scholarly controversy, the answer to the obvious question of how these axioms function in the tractate as a whole is not at all
clear. And third, this tractate is philosophically significant to those philosophers who take St. Thomas as their inspiration since it appears that St.
Thomas’s existence/essence distinction is adumbrated here. I shall begin my explication by giving a brief overview of the main lines of the tractate. Then I
shall lay out the arguments contained in the statement and resolution of the dilemma which Boethius constructs, indicating (by means of Roman numerals in
parentheses) where I think particular axioms are meant to apply. Finally, I shall display the axioms as perspicuously as possible and comment on them." (pp.
(1) I am obliged to Professor Ralph Mclnerny for awakening my interest in Boethius and for his suggestion that the De Hebdomadibus
would repay careful study.
(2) All references are to the H. F. Stewart and E. K. Rand edition of The Theological Tractates and The Consolation of
Philosophy, in the Loeb Classical Library (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1973)
Caster, Kevin J. 1996. "The Distinction between Being and Essence according to Boethius, Avicenna, and William of Auvergne." Modern
Schoolman no. 73:309-332.
"A close analysis of William of Auvergne’s metaphysics reveals a distinction between being and essence that more closely approximates the
celebrated real distinction of St. Thomas than has generally been recognized. Like St. Thomas, William maintained both a real distinction and a real
composition between being and essence in the metaphysical structure of the concrete thing. Since William’s position thus represented a marked development in
the history of philosophy with respect to this topic, it is obviously valuable to look at William’s sources, namely, Boethius and Avicenna. Of course, I am in
no sense suggesting that the study of Boethius and Avicenna is valuable only for the insights it might lend to one’s perspective of William’s position. On the
contrary, such study is eminently valuable in itself.
1. Boethius’s Contribution to the Doctrine of the Real Distinction
In his Opuscula Sacra, Boethius distinguishes between being (esse) and that which is (id quod est). Because
William, who borrowed Boethius’s terminology for his own position, was especially influenced by the De hebdomadibus, one needs to look at this work in
order to reach a more complete understanding of William. While the scholarly opinion on Boethius’s distinction is quite divergent, Pierre Hadot’s work — in my
opinion — represents the best of the scholarly interpretations regarding this topic. Hadot not only seems best to capture Boethius’s doctrine, but his
perspective of Boethius also highlights what William seemed to find in him.
In “La distinction de l’êtr e et de l’étant dans le De Hebdomadibus de Boèce,” Hadot summarizes the differences between being (esse)
and that which is (id quod est) as they appear in the axioms found in the De hebdomadibus. The characteristics of being (esse) and that which is (id quod est)
may be translated as follows. Being: 1) “is not yet,” 2) “in no way participates in anything,” and 3) “has nothing besides itself added on.” That which is: 1)
“has received the form of being,” 2) “has received being,” 3) “participates in that which is being,” 4) “is and exists,” 5) “is able to participate in
something,” and 6) “is able to have something besides the fact that it is.” (1)
(1) See Pierre Hadot, “La distinction de l'être et de l’étant dans le De hebdomadibus de Boèce,” Die Metaphysik im
Mittelalter, Miscellanea Mediavalia, 2 (Berlin: De Gruyter, 1963), p. 147. The characteristics of esse: 1) “nondum est,” 2) “nullo modo aliquo
participat,” and 3) “nihil aliud praeter se habet admixtum.” The characteristics of id quod est: 1) “accepit formam essendi,” 2) “suscipit esse,” 3)
“participat eo quod est esse,” 4) “est atque consistit,” 5) “participare aliquo potest,” and 6) “potest habere aliquid praeterquam quod ipsum est.”
Chadwick, Henry. 1980. "The authenticity of Boethius's fourth tractate, De fide catholica." Journal of Theological Studies
———. 1981. Boethius. The Consolations of Music, Logic, Theology, and Philosophy. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Contents: Abbreviations IX; Chronological Table X; Introduction XI; I Romans and Goths 1; II Liberal Arts in the Collapse of Culture 69; III
Logic Part of Philosophy or a Tool of all Philosohy? 108; IV Christian Theology and the Philosophers 174; V Evil, Freedom, and Providence 223; Preservation and
Transmission 254; Editions 258; Bibliography 261; Notes 285; Index 307-313.
"Born fifteen hundred years ago (within a reasonable approximation), Boethius wrote one of the dazzling masterpieces of European literature.
But he has been seldom studied as a whole, and has been seen more through the eyes of those whom he influenced than in relation to the writers whom he had read
and who influenced him.
The purpose of this book is to see the man in the setting of his own turbulent and tormented age, not to trace his large posterity in thought
and literature. Moreover, the latter concern predominates in the collection of studies on Boethius by various authors, including myself, edited by Dr Margaret
Gibson ([Boethius] Blackwell, 1981). Much is also said of that in the studies of Boethius by Pierre Courcelle ([La consolation de philosophie
dans la tradition littéraire: antécedents et posterité de Boèce. Paris,] 1967). Modern reappraisal of Boethius, especially since the work of Klingner ([De Boethii Consolatione Philosophiae. Philologische Untersuchungen, 27. Berlin,]1921) and Courcelle ([Les lettres grecques en occident de Macrobe
à Cassiodore. 2nd edn. Paris,] 1948. [Eng. tr. by H.E. Wedeck, Late Latin Writers and their Greek sources. Harvard, 1969.]), has concentrated on
his debt to the late Platonists of Athens and especially of Alexandria. The present book continues that line, and adds fresh Neoplatonist evidence for the
interpretation of the five tractates on Christian theology. On the other side, I have also found more affinity with Augustine than has been generally
recognized, and therefore conclude with a portrait of Boethius simultaneously more deeply Neoplatonic and more deeply Augustinian than has been acknowledged. I
have also tried to integrate the various constituent elements in his intellectual achievement. The substructure of the Consolation of Philosophy is
only clear when one has also seen something of his arithmetic, music, and logic, the last being the grand obsession of his mind. It is then possible to make a
fresh attack on the question of his religious allegiance, debated since the tenth century when Bovo of Corvey asked how the evidently Christian author of the
theological tractates could write a work of so exclusively non Christian inspiration as the Consolation. The examination in the first chapter of the
political tangle between the Gothic kingdom of Theoderic the Great and the Byzantine ambitions of Justinian leads me to conclude that it is quite wrong to
exclude religion from the causes of his tragic arrest and execution." (Preface, p. V)
Collins, James. 1945. "Progress and Problems in the Reassessment of Boethius." Modern Schoolman no. 23:1-23.
Cooper, Lane, ed. 1928. A Concordance of Boethius. The Five Theological Tractates and the Consolation of Philosophy. Cambridge:
Medieval Academy of America.
Corrigan, Kevin. 1990. "A New Source for the Distinction between id quod est and esse in Boethius' De
Hebdomadibus." Studia Patristica no. 18:133-138.
"In his treatise on how substances are good in virtue of their existence without being substantial goods (1) Boethius draws a distinction
between the existing object (id quod est), composed of a subject and the forms it receives, and pure Being (esse), simple in itself. All
things are good in their own substantial existence only because their ipsum esse derives from the First Good, whereas the First Good is good simply
and solely in the fact that it exists. In several articles (2) Pierre Hadot has traced the roots of this distinction to two principal sources: (I) the
distinction between absolute Being and determinate Being (respectively Being-infinitive, To είναι, and being — participle, Tò ov) found in the anonymous
Commentary on the Parmenides (ascribed to Porphyry) and in Marius Victorinus (3). And (II) the late Neoplatonic distinction (of Proclus, Damascius (4)
and Victorinus) between hyparxis (preexistence) and ousia (substance), i.e., between pure Being in its simplicity prior to all things and
Substance, as the determinate subject taken together with all its accidents. I think Hadot is correct in his assessment of these sources, but what I shall do
here is attempt to show firstly, that an earlier source is Plotinus himself and secondly, that the distinction is ultimately based upon something more general,
but well-founded, in Graeco-Roman thought."
(1) In the middle ages this treatise was mistakenly entitled De hebdomadibus. On this and on the treatise in general see H.
Chadwick, Boethius: The Consolations of Music, Logic, Theology and Philosophy (Oxford, 1981) pp. 203-211.
(2) P. Hadot, “La distinction de l’être et de l’étant dans le De hebdomadibus de Boèce”, in Miscellanea Mediaevalia, ed. P.
Wilpert, 2 (Berlin, 1963), pp. 147-153; Id., “Forma essendi: interprétation philologique et interprétation philosophique d’une formule de Boèce”, Les
Études Classiques, 38 (1970), pp. 143-156; Id., “L’être et l’étant dans le Néoplatonisme”; Revue de Théologie et Philosophie (1973), pp.
(3) P. Hadot, Porphyre et Victorinus, 2 vols. (Paris, 1968). See Vol. 2: pp. 98-112. Marius Victorinus, Adversus Arium,
Sources Chrétiennes, ed. P. Henry and P. Hadot (Paris, 1960), IV: 19,4ff.
(4) Damascius, Dubitationes et Solutiones, ed. C.E. Ruelle (Paris, 1889), Vol. 1, 120, p. 312, 11-121, p. 312,29. Proclus, The
Elements of Theology, ed. E.R. Dodds (Oxford: 1933), props. 8-10.
Coster, Charles Henry. 1952. "The fall of Boethius: His character." Annuaire de l'Institut de Philologie et d'Histoire Orientales et
Slaves no. 4:45-81.
Mélanges Henri Grégoire.
Reprinted in C. H. Coster, Late Roman Studies, Cambridge: Harvard University Press 1968, pp. 54-96 (cited from the reprint).
It is at most a pardonable exaggeration to say that the fall of Boethius as been almost asmuch discusses as the falla of Adam. Not that there
has been any doubt that the fall of Boethius did in fact take place, but that exactly when it took place, and exactly why, have been less clear. Some have
thought Boethius was a martyr, (1) some have doubted that he was a Christian, (2) most have thought that he was the innocent victim of enemies who accused him
falsely, (3) William Bark has maintained that he did actually attempt to overthrow Theodoric. (4) The character of Boethius has generally been thought one of
the noblest of that antique world which was about to expire; (5) Bark, on the other hand, feels unable to "avoid the conclusion that Boethius could be harsh,
selfish and arrogant, and that he well knew how to consult his own interests ..." that he "lacked the steadfastness of Cassiodorus, being apparently unaware of
the inconsistency of accepting gifts of power and prestige from Theodoric while working for the King's overthrow." (6)" (pp. 54-55)
"As to chronology, rereading my paper after many years, I am inclined to accept the conventional dates (arrest of Boethius in 523, his
execution in 524), not as a certainty, but as a probability. It is difficult in the extreme, as many have pointed out and as Bieler implies, to believe that
Marius Aventicensis, who made use of the lost chronicles of Ravenna, should have been mistaken. Further, I took Cons. Phil. 3.4.4 Bieler ("Tu quoque
num tandem tot periculis adduci potuisti ut cum Decorato gerere magistratum putares, cum in eo mentem nequissimi scurrae delatorisque respiceres?") to mean
that Boethius had thought of holding office in the same administration as Decoratus but (prevented by the death of Decoratus) had not done so. (This would have
made Boethius magister in 525 instead of 523.) Such an interpretation of the passage, though, now seems to me perhaps to place too great a strain upon the
Coming to the question of the guilt or innocence of Boethius, it may be that Bieler slightly simplifies the issue. There can be no doubt that
Theodoric thought Boethius guilty: the king would not antagonize the Roman aristocracy, the Catholic church, and the emperor for the mere pleasure of doing so.
There is no doubt either — or at least, I have no doubt, and have given my reasons above — that Boethius was not guilty of magic or of conspiring against the
king." (pp. 98-99).
(1)For the authorities on this question, see William Bark, "The Legend of Boethius' Martyrdom," in Speculum 21 (1946) 312 n. 1. Cf.
"The Beginnings of the Legend of Boethius," by Howard R. Patch, in Speculum 22 (1947) 443-45; also, Charles Henry Coster and Howard R. Patch,
"Procopius and Boethius," in Speculum 23 (1948) 284-87, reprinted in chap. 3 above [pp. 46-53]. The essence of the difference of opinion between Patch
and me seems to be that the former accepts a broader definition of martyrdom than I do.
(2) For the authorities maintaining this point of view, see Giovanni Semeria, "II cristianesimo di Severino Boezio rivendicato," in Studi
e Documenti di Storia e Diritto 21 (Rome 1900) 68-178, cited by Bark in note 4 of the article just referred to, and other authorities citcd by Bark in the
(3) See, among many, Procopius, History of the Wars 5.1.33-34; Viktor Schurr, Die Trinitätslehre des Boethius im Uchte der
"skytischen Kontroversen" (Paderborn 1935) 201 n. 316; E. K. Rand, Founders of the Middle Ages (Cambridge, Mass. 1929) 159. Stein believes that
Theodoric sincerely thought Boethius guilty but that Boethius sincerely thought himself innocent (Stein II 257 [Histoire du Bas-Empire: De la disparition
de l’Empire d’Occident à la mort de Justinien (476–565 n. Chr.). Edited by Jean-Rémy Palanque. Brüssel/Paris 1949]. I still hold to my view that Boethius
was guilty of acts (trying to prevent the charges against Albinus from coming to the notice of Theodoric and trying to minimize the matter when it was brought
before the King) that he knew would amount to treason in the eyes of Theodoric, acts which Boethius himself thought justified because his first loyalty was to
Romanism and Catholicism. Cf. lud. Quinq. 62 f.
(4) William Bark, "Theodoric vs. Boethius: Vindication and Apology," in American Historical Review 49 (1944) 410-26. M. L . W .
Laistner seems to support this position. See his review of Pierre Courcelle, Histoire littéraire des grandes invasions Germaniques in
Speculum 24 (1949) 257 f. Bark's article is also cited by Vasiliev. See A. A. Vasiliev, Justin the First (Harvard University Press, 1950) 328
(5) Among many, see Procopius (above, n. 3); Rand (above, n. 3) 135 f., 157 f., 180.
(6) Bark (above, n. 4) 425 n. 66 and 426. See also his " The Legend of Boethius' Martyrdom" (above, n. 1) 317 n. 18. One should add that
Bark, elsewhere in the interesting and stimulating articles cited, fully recognizes that in spite of the defects which he finds in the character of Boethius,
the latter was "one of the greatest men of the sixth century; his brilliant reputation has no need of spurious honors" ( "The Legend" 312). He also says
("Theodoric vs. Boethius" 426), " At the end at least he was loyal to what he believed in and risked everything for it." For another very severe criticism of
the character of Boethius, see Thomas Hodgkin, Italy and Her Invaders, III (2nd ed., Oxford 1896) 479, 493, 498.
For a milder criticism, see lud. Quinq. 5of.
(94) Cf. Boezio Philosophiae Consolatio, Testo con Introduzione e Traduzione, di Emanuele Rapisarda (Catania 1961) 81, and the Loeb
Courcelle, Pierre. 1969. Late Latin Writers and their Greek Sources. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
English translation by Harry E. Wedeck of Les lettres grecques en Occident. De Macrobe à Cassiodore; on Boethius see Part III pp.
Contents: Part I. The mainstream of Hellenism at the death of Theodosius.
Pagan Hellenism: Macrobius; Christian Hellenism: St. Jerome;
Part II. Attempts at confrontation and the decline of Hellenism in the fifth century.
Greek studies in Italy; St. Augustine and Hellenism in Africa; Greek culture in Gaul;
Part III. The renaissance of Hellenism under the Ostrogoths.
The East to the rescue of Pagan culture: Boethius. Introduction; Boethius's scientific works; Boethius' works on logic; The neoplatonism of
the 'De consolatione philosophiae'; Boethius' Christianity; Symmachus' course of studies and his failure;
Hellenism in the service of monastic culture: Cassiodorus; The monks in the service of Hellenism: Vivarium and the Lateran;
Cross, Richard. 2012. "Form and Universal in Boethius." British Journal for the History of Philosophy no. 20:439-458.
Abstract: "Contrary to the claims of recent commentators, I argue that Boethius holds a modified version of the Ammonian three-fold universal
(transcendent, immanent, and conceptual). He probably identifies transcendent universals as divine ideas, and accepts too forms immanent in corporeal
particulars, most likely construing these along the Aphrodisian lines that he hints at in a well-known passage from his second commentary on Porphyry's
Isagoge. Boethius never states the theory of the three-fold form outright, but I attempt to show that this theory nevertheless underlies and gives structure to
what Boethius has to say on the topic."
Curley III, Thomas F. 198. "The Consolation of Philosophy as a Work of Literature "American Journal of Philology no.
"Much, in fact most of the scholarship devoted to Boethius’ Consolatio has dealt with the work as a philosophical treatise. (1) And
this it certainly is. The author is almost ostentatiously conversant with Platonic, Aristotelian, Stoic, Epicurean, and neo-Platonic thought; what is more, he
weaves these various strands into an organic whole. But in addition to philosophy the Consolatio is also literature. Formally, it is an example of an
ancient literary genre, the Menippean Satire, a medley of alternating verse and prose, which had served the very different purposes of Petronius, the author of
the Apocolocyntosis, Martianus Capella, and the mythological allegorist, Fulgentius. But even those critics who do treat the Consolatio as a
work of literature too often limit themselves to tracing Boethius' sources and to indicating his influence on subsequent authors, Dante and Chaucer being the
most renowned. (2) What I should like to do, and the present paper is merely a premier essai in this direction, is to determine Boethius’ literary purposes and
to suggest what implications the literary aspects of the work may have on its philosophical content. More specifically, I shall try to explain how Menippean
Satire functions in the Consolatio and why Boethius chose this medium for a philosophical treatise." (p. 343)
(1) For bibliography see:
a. Beiler, L. (ed.), Anicii Manlii Severini Boethii Philosophiae Consolatio (Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 94) (Brepols,
Turnholt. 1957) 16-17.
b. Gruber, J. Kommentar Zu Boethius De Consolatione Philosophiae, Walter De Gruyer (Berlin 1978)417-27.
(2) The most important literary critics and those to whom I am most indebted are [Luigi] Alfonsi. [Friedrich] Klinger, and [Kurt]
Daley, Brian E. 1984. "Boethius' Theological Tracts and Early Byzantine Scholasticism." Mediaeval Studies no. 46:158-191.
For biographical as well as literary and philosophical reasons, then, the riddle of the depth and orientation of Boethius' Christianity
remains important. I do not propose to solve it completely here, when so many others have failed. But I do think it helps us towards a solution to look more
carefully at his theological writings, not just by themselves but in the context of the kind of theology being done in the first two decades of the sixth
century, especially in the Greek-speaking East. The main point I want to make is simply that Boethius' theological work ‘fits’, far better than many modern
students have supposed: fits organically into his own life and program of work, into his intellectual profile, precisely because it fits into a general pattern
of philosophical and theological thinking that was just then beginning to emerge among Greek Christian writers, especially in Alexandria and Palestine. As a
result, I believe Boethius deserves to be taken more seriously than he often is as a Christian thinker, and possibly even as an ecclesiastical politician." (p.
"The point I have been making throughout this article - the closeness of Boethius' theological tracts, in method, style and content, to
contemporary Greek 'scholastic' theology- leaves some central riddles still unsolved. What, for instance, was the 'home' of this new style of theological
writing in the East? Where would Boethius or his informants have made its acquaintance? In what kind of 'school' was it originally done? Were there lecture
halls, similar to that of Ammonius, where Christians carried on their theological debates and taught others how to take this dialectical approach to revelation
and tradition?" (p. 185)
("That Boethius could find Lady Philosophy consoling in her own right during his final days should not surprise us, or cause us to doubt in
the least the sincerity of his Christian faith. It should simply remind us of the respect he felt he owed her, and of the thoroughness with which he had made
the Greek cultural tradition which nurtured her his own." (p. 191)
Dane, Joseph A. 1979. "Potestas / Potentia: Note on Boethius's De Consolatione Philosophiae." Vivarium no. 17:81-89.
"Boethius's treatment of the two words potestas and potentia in the Consolatio is based on a hierarchical model, a
model which finds both political and philosophical expression. In classical and medieval usage, potestas implies a legitimate realm of power, and is
often the title of a particular office. Potentia, on the other hand, implies the exercise of power; its military applications further suggest the
notion of external resistance. (5)" (p. 82)
"In Boethius's commentaries on Aristotle, a similar distinction appears in a philosophical context. In his commentary on Aristotle's De
interpretatione (Editio secunda, ed. Meiser II, 459.19-464.4) potestas is used in conjunction with actus to express the
abstract relation between potential and act. Potentia, however, appears to have a more concrete application. In Book III of In Categorias
Aristotelis, potentia is used in the dichotomy potentia/ impotentia in relation to a physical ability to run or fight: quae ex
quadam naturali potentia impotentia que proveniat (244C). The political distinction between "legitimate domain" or "office" (potestas ) and
"exercise of physical power" (potentia ) clearly influences this latter usage. Both the political and philosophical contexts suggest an individual
"potens" as intermediary. His legitimate power expressed in the epithet potensis derived from a realm (potestas ) and is expressed
concretely as physical power (potentia )." (p. 83)
"What has taken place, then, is a redefining and refining of a verbal pair centering on the concept of power in such a way that the once
vana nomina with their cumbersome worldly referents can participate in the final union asserted in Book V. Throughout the Consolatio,
Boethius rigorously maintains the relation of potestas to potentia - a relation which in both political and philosophical contexts implies
subordination of the second term. Once the connection of potentia with s ummum bonum is established, potestas cannot retain its
specifically worldly connotations without denying the linguistic subordination of a now highly elevated potentia. When potestas does reenter
the dialectic with a positive connotation, it relates to the psychological dimension on which the definitions of potentia and summum bonum
Reversal or confusion of this proper relation is inevitable whenever notions of power are referred to various levels within a worldly
hierarchy (potentia of kings or potestas of mice). Reorientation toward the spiritual leads to reestablishment of proper linguistic
relations." (pp. 88-89)
(5) See v.Lübtow, "Potestas", Paulys Real-encyclopädie der classischen Altertumswissenschaft, Band 22, I, Stuttgart 1953,
cols.1040-46 and J.H. Heinr. Schmidt, H andbuch der lateinischen und griechischen Synonymik, 1889; (rpt. Amsterdam 1968), 351-68. See also Charles du
Cange, Glossarium Mediae et Infimae Latinitatis, Vol. VI, (ed. 1883-87; rpt. Graz-Austria ), 438-41 and Carlton T. Lewis and Charles Short,
A Latin Dictionary, Oxford 1879, s.v.
References below to the Consolatio and Opuscula Sacra are to Boethius: Tractates, De Consolatione Philosophiae,
ed. H. F. Stewart et al., The Loeb Classical Library, Cambridge, Mass. 1973. In the passages cited, no significant textual variants are listed in the
editions of R. Pieper, Leipzig 1871 or L. Bieler, Corpus Christianorum, Series Latina, 94, Turnholt 957.
References to Boethius 's commentaries are to columns in Patrologiae Cursus Completus, Series Latina, vol. 64, ed. J.-P.
Migne, Paris 1847.
De Rijk, Lambertus Marie. 1988. "On Boethius' Notion of Being. A Chapter of Boethian Semantics." In Meaning and Inference in Medieval
Philosophy. Studies in Memory of Jan Pinborg, edited by Kretzmann, Norman, 1-29. Dordrecht: Kluwer.
Reprinted as chapter I in: L. M. de Rijk, Through Language to Reality. Studies in Medieval Semantics and Metaphysics, edited by E.
P. Bos, Northampton: Variourum Reprints, 1989.
"From Parmenides onwards, ancient and medieval thought had a special liking for metaphysical speculation. No doubt, speculative thought was
most influentially outlined by Plato and Aristotle. However, what the Christian thinkers achieved in metaphysics was definitely more than just applying and
adapting what was handed down to them. No student of medieval speculative thought can help being struck by the peculiar fact that whenever fundamental progress
was made, it was theological problems which initiated the development. This applies to St Augustine and Boethius, and to the great medieval masters as well
(such as Anselm, Thomas Aquinas, Duns Scotus). Their speculation was, time and again, focused on how the notion of being and the whole range of our linguistic
tools can be applied to God's Nature (Being).
It is no wonder, then, that an inquiry into Boethius's notion of being should be concerned, first and foremost, with his theological
treatises, especially De hebdomadibus.
My final section aims at showing how Boethius's notion of being is clearly articulated in accordance with his semantic distinctions. This is
most clearly seen in the main argument of De hebdomadibus where they may be actually seen at work.
As is well known, the proper aim of De hebdomadibus is to point out the formal difference between esse and esse
bonum, or in Boethius's words: 'the manner in which substances are good in virtue of their being, while not yet being substantially
good' (38.2-4). Its method consists in a careful application of certain formal distinctions, viz.:
(a) The distinction between an object 'when taken as a subsistent whole and id quod est = the constitutive element which causes the
object's actually' being; it is made in Axiom II and used in Axiom IV.
(b) The distinction (closely related to the preceding one) obtaining between the constitutive element effecting the object's actual being
(forma essendi, or ipsum esse) and the object's actuality as such (id quod est or ipsum est); it is made in Axioms VII and
(c) The distinction between esse as 'pure being' (= nihil aliud praeter se habens admixtum), which belongs to any form,
whether substantial or incidental, and id quod est admitting of some admixture (lit. 'something besides what it is itself'); it is made in Axiom IV
and in fact implies the distinction between esse simpliciter and esse aliquid.
(d) The distinction between 'just being some thing', tantum esse aliquid, and ' being something qua mode of
being'. It is made in Axiom V and used in Axiom VI and is in fact concerned with a further distinction made within the notion of id quod est.
It points out the differences between the effect caused by some form as constitutive of being some thing and that caused by the main constituent
(forma essendi) which causes an object's being simpliciter.
(e) The distinction between two different modes of participation, one effecting an object's being subsistent, the other its being
some thing, where the ' some thing' (aliquid) refers to some (non-subsistent) quality such as 'being white', 'being wise', 'being
The application of these distinctions enables Boethius to present a solution to the main problem: although the objects (ea quae
sunt, plural of id quod est) are (are good) through their own constitutive element, being (being good),
nevertheless they are not identical with their constitutive element nor (a fortiori) with the IPSUM ESSE (BONUM ESSE) of which their constituent is
only a participation." (pp. 1 and 22-23).
———. 2003. "Boethius on De interpretatione (ch. 3): is he a reliable guide?" In Boèce ou la chaîne des savoirs, edited by
Galonnier, Alain, 207-227. Louvain-Paris: Éditions Peeters.
"There can be no doubt whatsoever about Boethius's exceptional merits for transmitting Aristotle's logic to us. But while 'Aristotelian'
logic is in many respects synonymous with 'Aristotelico-Boethian' logic, the question can be raised whether Aristotle himself was an 'Aristotelian'. To give
just one example: from Łukasiewicz onwards there has been much debate among scholars about the telling differences between traditional syllogistic and that of
the Prior Analytics. (1)
In this paper I intend to deal with two specimens of Boethius's way of commenting upon Aristotle's text. They are found in his discussion of
De interpretatione, chapters 2 and 3, which present Aristotle's views of ónoma and rhema. (2) One concerns the semantics of
indefinite names, the other that of isolated names and verbs." (p. 227)
(1) Jan Łukasiewicz, Aristotle's Syllogistic from the Standpoint of Modern Formal Logic, Oxford, 1951. G. Patzig, Aristotle's
Theory of the Syllogism. A Logico-Philological Study of Book A of the Prior Analytics, Dordrecht, 1969.
(2) Rhema properly stands for 'what is said of', including not only our 'verb' but also adjectives, when used in attributive
position. One should realise, however, that 'verb' refers to a word class, rather than a semantic or syntactical category, as rhema does.
Returning now to Boethius' manner of commenting upon Aristotle's texts, the following points can be made:
 In the wake of Ammonius, (3) Boethius explains [De int.] 16b22-25 on the apophantic level, i.e. in terms of statement-making, instead of
framing significative concepts, i.e. on the onomastic level.
 Whereas in Ammonius' report of the predecessors, Alexander and Porphyry, as well as his own exposition of the issue, there are many clues
to the previous alternative reading and interpretation on the onomastic level, Boethius does not even refrain from cleansing the text (including his
'quotations'), by changing, at any occurrence, ' ens' into ' est'.
 In doing so, Boethius decisively influenced the commentary tradition on account of the purport of De int. 3, 16b19-25. He effectively
contributed to the common verdict on this paragraph in terms of 'a curious medley'.
 As far as the semantics of the indefinite verb (3, 16b14-15) is concerned, Boethius' apparently adhering to the so-called 'Ammonii
recensio' was far less desastrous for the common understanding of Aristotle on this score, and, in effect, merely provided us with some stimulating Medieval
discussions of the semantics of term infinitation.
 Finally by way of speculative surmise, it might be suggested that both the fact that Boethius dealt with the 'Ammonii recognise' without
reading it in his lemma of 16b14-15, as well as his rather ruthlessly interfering in the quotations of the pre-Ammonian sources, should make it more plausible
that Boethius had extensive, but incomplete marginal notes to his Greek text of Aristotle at his disposal, rather than a full copy of Ammonius' commentary (or
those of other Greek commentators).
To comment upon Aristotle's work naturally includes developing his lore. But nothing can ever guarantee that this will happen ad mentem
(3) It is unmistakably plain that in De int. ch. 3, Boethius is strongly influenced by what he read in Ammonius (or in marginal
notes on Ammonius' view).
(4) Cf. the interesting paper on this subject by Frans A.J. de Haas, "Survival of the Fittest? Mutations of Aristotle's Method of Inquiry in
Late Antiquity" (forthcoming). [Conference: The Dynamics of Natural Philosophy in the Aristotelian Tradition (and beyond), Nijmegen, 16-20 August
De Vogel, Cornelia J. 1971. "Boethiana." Vivarium no. 9:49-66.
".A highly controversial problem is: whence did Boethius derive his Greek culture, from Athens, from Alexandria, - or have we to imagine that
he simply worked in his library in Rome?
[Follow an examination of the opinions of Courcelle, Minio-Paluello, Shiel and de Rijk: Courcelle thinks that Boethius studied at Athens, the
other authors are of the contrary opinion.]" (p. 49)
Summing up the result of this part of my inquiry I think I can make the following modest statements.
(1) On the basis of contemporary evidence it must be accepted as certain that Boethius spent his school years in Athens, say from the age of
9 or 10 up to about 17 or 18.
(2) It is very probable that immediately after that period he was Ammonius' student at Alexandria, from the age of 17 or 18 till about
(3) Taking into the account that he was extremely precocious it is probable that he returned to Rome as early as the year 500 or a little
later. There and about that date he composed the first of his mathematical treatises,the Institutio arithmetica and followed it up by the other
To these three points I add a fourth, concerning the period in which Boethius' other works were written. In the preceding pages I did not
discuss the important article of C. H. Coster on The fall of Boethius, (34) which did not touch on my subject. However, the present account of
Boethius' younger years which brings us up to the beginning of his own works may be duly concluded by a correction of the traditionally accepted final term of
his life and work. I think that Coster's above-cited paper offers the grounds for such a correction. By a careful analysis of the contemporary sources the
author comes to the conclusion that the execution of Boethius and Symmachus must have taken place in the summer of 526, shortly before Theodoric's death. If
that is correct- and I think Coster's
arguments are solid -, the framework into which the list of Boethius'works is to be fitted will be enlarged by two years. Since a few years
ago Dr. De Rijk drew up such a list in the pages of the present Journal, (35) it may not be out of place to mention the result of Coster's research at the end
of this study.
What I have not done in these pages but wish to do in the next number of this Journal, is to reconsider Boethius' argument in the
Consolatio more closely from the point of view of what does and what does not correspond to his own convictions." (pp. 65-66)
(34) C.H.Coster, The fall of Boethius: His character, in: Annuaire de l'Institut de Philologie et d'Histoire orientales et slaves,
XII, (1952), pp. 45-81, (Mélanges H. Grégoire) Bruxelles 1953.
I dealt with this paper in section II of my contribution to the German work Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt, Band III,prepared
(35) Vivarium II2,J964,p.i£9ff.
———. 1972. "Boethiana II." Vivarium no. 10:1-40.
"So to Boethius, as it had been to St. Augustine, true philosophy and Christian faith tended in the same direction. To Augustine Christian
faith had been the fulfilment of that which philosophy had promised.
He did not identify them. Did Boethius?" (p. 2)
"In fact, Courcelle thinks that Boethius tried to give a kind of synthesis of the Alexandrian Neoplatonism of Ammonius and Christianity, in
the same way as later St. Thomas Aquinas proposed a synthesis of Aristotle's philosophy and Christian theology without mixing up the fields of reason and
faith.Thus, we can understand that such an expression as the "prima divinitas", even on the lips of Philosophia, appears a lapsus to Courcelle. On the whole,
again, I think his view of Boethius is right: in fact, the "last of Romans", who was a Christian, spent his life in the Neoplatonic philosophy of his age, and
he did so rather technically. Even in his theological treatises he tackled the problems as a philosopher, applying the distinctions of Aristotle's logic to the
terms used in theology.
Was it so strange then, that to him, when in prison, philosophy appeared to have a word to speak, a word which must have appealed to him the
more since its tendency was in agreement with what he believed as a Christian.
No doubt this is the main-point. But there are a few unsettled problems. I wish to dispose them under the following three points.
1. Are there any clearly Christian features in the Consolatio? And if so, where and which are they?
2. What about the loci sacrae Scripturae, gathered by Fortescue and mentioned as parallels in Bieler' s new edition of the
Consolatio? Are all of them either vague parallels or just a matter of coincidence, or will there be found one or two cases in which a very peculiar
biblical thought or expression occurs in the Consolatio in precisely the same form? This would be an interesting thing to us. I think it has to be
3. In which form do the"pagan", non-Christian elements present themselves in the Consolatio? Are they confined to the part in which
Philosophia is speaking, or do they sometimes occur in our Christian-philosopher's own part as well? Another question might be raised in this context: is it
necessary to believe that Boethius accepted every word spoken by his Mistress without any reservation, or can he be supposed to have had some reservations with
regard to certain details of her teaching?" (p. 3)
———. 1973. "The Problem of Philosophy and Christian Faith in Boethius' Consolatio." In Romanitas et christianitas. Studia Iano
Henrico Waszink A.D. VI Kal. Nov. A. MCMLXXIII XIII lustra complenti oblata, edited by den Boer, Willem, 357-370. Amsterdam: North-Holland.
Dod, Bernard G. 1982. "Aristoteles Latinus." In The Cambridge History of Later Medieval Philosophy from the Rediscovery of
Aristotle to the Disintegration of Scholasticism 1100-1600, edited by Kretzmann, Norman, Jenny, Anthony P. and Pinborg, Jan, 46-79. Cambridge: Cambridge
"All of Aristotle's works were translated into Latin in the Middle Ages and nearly all were intensely studied. The exceptions are the
Eudemian Ethics, of which no complete translation survives, and the Poetics, which, although translated by William of Moerbeke, remained
unknown. Most of the works were translated more than once, and two of them, the Physics and Metaphysics, were translated or revised no fewer
than five times. The translations we are concerned with spanned a period of about 150 years; some were made from the Arabic, but the majority directly from the
Greek. Some translations became popular and remained so; some became popular but were then superseded by other translations; others barely circulated at all."
"At the beginning of our period only two of Aristotle's logical works, the Categories and De interpretatione, were known in
Latin, in Boethius' translation; these two works, which together with Porphyry's Isagoge became known as the 'logica vetus', had already become
standard school texts in logic. One of the results of the quickening interest in logic in the early twelfth century was the recovery, from about 1120 onwards,
of the rest of Boethius' translations of the logic: the Prior Analytics, Topics and Sophistici elenchi. How and where these
translations, made some six centuries earlier, were found is not known. The logical corpus was completed by James of Venice's translation (from the Greek) of
the Posterior Analytics; in 1159 John of Salisbury in his Metalogicon shows a familiarity with all these works. (He also quotes from a second
translation of the Posterior Analytics, that of Ioannes, which otherwise remained virtually unknown.)" (p. 46)
Donato, Antonio. 2012. "Boethius's Consolation of Philosophy and the Greco-Roman Consolatory Tradition." Traditio no.
"The aim of this study is to show that an adequate assessment of the literary genre of the Consolatio requires (i) a thorough
analysis of features (topoi, themes, and methods) considered typical of the consolatory genre and (ii) a consideration of the goal of Greco-Roman
It is only by following this approach that we can gain the knowledge and insights necessary to determine accurately the ways in which
Boethius’s text resembles and differs from Greco-Roman consolations. (12)
The significance of an investigation into whether the Consolatio is a consolatory text is not only that of assessing its literary
genre, but has further exegetical importance. Typically, an author’s choice of employing a specific literary genre — particularly in the case of ancient and
medieval authors — is a telling sign of the purpose of the text, the way the content of the text is to be considered, and the author’s motivation to write it.
(13) Thus, the exegetical importance of assessing the literary genre of the Consolatio is that, among other things, it crucially affects the way we
interpret the text’s goal and its philosophical arguments. If we consider the Consolatio to be a consolatory text, then it is appropriate to focus on
its overt meaning and consider its philosophical arguments as designed to offer consolation. On the other hand, if we think that the Consolatio is,
for example, a “Menippean satire” we cannot stop at the overt meaning of the text but have to read between the lines in order to identify the text’s underlying
This paper will be divided into seven parts. After a brief discussion of the origin of the Greco-Roman consolatory tradition, we shall
examine, one by one, those features of the Consolatio which can be traced back to Greco-Roman consolations (sections 2–5) and those which seem to
distinguish it from these texts (sections 6–7)." (pp. 3-4)
(11) Means and Phillips offer very persuasive arguments in support of the interpretation that the Consolatio is a consolation; yet
they give no consideration to Boethius’s relation to Greco-Roman consolations (M. Means, The Consolatio Genre in Medieval English Literature
[Gainesville, 1972], 18; P. Phillips, “Boethius’s De Consolatione Philosophiae and the Lamentatio/Consolatio Tradition,” Medieval English Studies 9
(12) The very significant number of consolatory texts composed before and immediately after the Consolatio makes it impossible to
study, within the limited scope of a paper, the relation between the Consolatio and ancient as well as medieval consolatory texts. Thus, we shall
limit our study to the investigation of the relation between the Consolatio and some well-known Greco-Roman consolations. Greco-Roman consolatory
texts present several advantages for our study: 1) scholars such as Gruber (Kommentar zu Boethius) have persuasively demonstrated that Boethius knew
these texts; 2) many of the consolatory strategies contained in these texts are very clearly spelled out and easy to recognize; 3) these texts are amongst the
earlier examples of consolations and hence it is reasonable to start from them when investigating the place of the Consolatio within the consolatory
(13) R. B. Rutherford, The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius: A Study (Oxford, 1989); P. Hadot, “Forms of Life and Forms of Discourse
in Ancient Philosophy,” Critical Inquiry 16 (1990): 483–505.
(14) The scholars who consider the Consolatio to be a “Menippean satire” believe that the goal of its philosophical arguments is not really
to convey philosophical ideas, but to present flawed arguments that are supposed to illustrate the limitations (Marenbon) or failures (Payne, Relihan) of the
discipline of philosophy. See Marenbon, Boethius; Payne, Chaucer and Menippean Satire; Relihan, The Prisoner’s Philosophy.
———. 2013. Boethius' Consolation of Philosophy as a Product of Late Antiquity. New York: Bloomsbury.
Contents: Acknowldgements VII; Introduction 1; 1. Boethius and the Ideology of the Roman Senatorial Aristocracy 7; 2. The Hillness and the
Healer 57; 3. How does Philosophy Convey her Therapy? 101; 4. Christiantity and the Consolation 163; Concluding Remarks 197; Bibliography
199; Index 217-221.
"In the last 50 years the field of Late Antiquity has advanced significantly. Today we have a picture of this period that is more precise and
accurate than ever before. Nonetheless, the study of one of the most significant texts of this age, i.e. Boethius' Consolation of Philosophy (henceforth
Consolation), did not sufficiently benefit from these advancements in the scholarship. This book aims to fill this gap by investigating how the study
of the Consolation can profit from the knowledge of Boethius’ cultural, philosophical and social background that is available today.
The goal of this enterprise, however, is not simply that of placing the Consolation in its historical and cultural background, but
to unlock its exegetical difficulties by employing an approach hitherto mostly unexplored. In this text, I show that some of the Consolation’s
long-standing exegetical issues can be more adequately addressed by going beyond the text and investigating the extent to which the cultural, philosophical and
social context of Late Antiquity informs Boethius’ last work.
In this book I explore the hypothesis that the Consolation is not simply influenced by the context of Late Antiquity, but is a
‘product’ of Late Antiquity. A text may be regarded as the ‘product’ of its age when (i) it does not simply contain individual views and features that are
common to intellectuals of a particular age, but also (ii) presents elements that are specific to the mindset of the time in which it was written. The view
that the Consolation is a product of Late Antiquity, however, does not imply that the text lacks originality and can be reduced to its background. On
the contrary, it is by examining how Boethius receives, refashions and expresses literary, philosophical and cultural elements that are typical of his age that
it is possible to fully appreciate the Consolation’s originality." (From the Introduction)
———. 2013. "Forgetfulness and Misology in Boethius's Consolation of Philosophy." British Journal for the History of
Philosophy no. 21:463-485.
Abstract: "In book one of the Consolation of Philosophy, Boethius is portrayed as a man who suffers because he forgot philosophy.
Scholars have underestimated the significance of this portrayal and considered it a literary device the goal of which is simply to introduce the discussion
that follows. In this paper, I show that this view is mistaken since it overlooks that this portrayal of Boethius is the key for the understanding of the whole
text. The philosophical therapy that constitutes the core of the ‘Consolation’ can in fact be properly evaluated only if we recognize the condition it is
designed to cure. Through the portrayal of Boethius's forgetfulness, the ‘Consolation’ illustrates that it is the very nature of philosophical knowledge that
makes it susceptible to being forgotten. Philosophical knowledge can (i) turn into misology, when it appears unable to solve certain problems, and (ii) be
overrun by strong emotions. The therapy offered in the ‘Consolation’ is designed to make Boethius aware of the ‘fragility’ of philosophical knowledge and show
him how to ‘strengthen’ it. He is taught how to more fully embody philosophy's precepts and that philosophy's inability to solve certain problems reveals not
its failures but its limits."
D'Onofrio, Giulio. 1986. "Dialectic and Theology. Boethius' Opuscula sacra and Their Early Medieval Readers." Studi
Medievali no. 27:45-67.
Dougherty, M. V. 2004. "The Problem of Humana natura in the Consolatio Philosophiae of Boethius." American Catholic
Philosophical Quarterly no. 78:273-292.
"In Boethius's Consolatio Philosophiae one finds a rather unusual argument contending that human beings can lose their natures as
the result of immoral or virtuous activity. A number of texts in the work argue that the polarities of beast and god serve as options for those who lead highly
immoral or highly virtuous lives. This argument is examined in detail in light of its philosophical ancestry. The paper argues that those who think the
Boethian doctrine is Platonic in origin tend to read the texts about the loss of human nature as metaphorical. The paper then suggests that if one places the
argument in an Aristotelian context one is able to see it as a metaphysical argument, and more particularly, as part of Boethian psychology. This paper thus
provides a new context for approaching Boethius's contention that human beings can lose their natures."
Ebbesen, Sten. 2003. "Boethius on the Metaphysics of Words." In Boèce ou la chaîne des savoirs, edited by Galonnier, Alain, 257-275.
Louvain-Paris: Éditions Peeters.
Reprinted in: S. Ebbesen, Greek-Latin Philosophical Interaction. Collected Essays of Sten Ebbesen Volume 1, Aldershot:
Ashgate, 2008, pp. 115-128.
"Boethius distinguished himself from most panegyrical orators by having pursued the study of the words he lived by beyond ordinary grammar
and rhetoric school. He may not have delved deeply into the theory of grammar, but his works on topics demonstrate a live interest in the borderland between
rhetoric and logic, and he spent much time on Aristotelian logic. He saw logic as fundamentally a language science: logic and grammar study the same matter, he
says; but though logic gives a deeper understanding of language than grammar, it cannot replace grammar, for they study the subject from different points of
We might expect Boethius to have thought about the question “What is a word” and the related questions “What is a phrase?” and “What is a
sentence?” (pp. 257-258, note omitted)
"Boethius’ discussion of molecular propositions is revealing of his way of thinking. A conjunction of propositions is semantically several
propositions, but a conditional is somehow one proposition: ‘If it is day there is light’ does not signify several things, but rather one “following”, one
consequently as he says, translating the Greek ακολουθία. In other words: it takes two facts to make two conjoined propositions true, but only one to make a
conditional true. A fact that can be described in a conditional is at least as good a fact as one describable in a categorical proposition.
One might think Boethius should have distinguished between assertion and signification; he could have held that the conditional signifies
whatever the antecedent signifies and whatever the consequent signifies, whereas it asserts that one follows from the other. Boethius actually had the
necessary tools for so doing. The verb “proponere”, which does occur in the context, would do nicely for “assert”.
I doubt, though, that he would have embraced the recommendation with alacrity. If I am not mistaken, his intuition was that words signify
real things, and things are more real the more they are understood as unit-seeds capable of unfolding in multiplicity. Consequents of true conditionals really
are contained in their antecedents in the sense that what the whole conditional signifies is one thing the richness of which may be gauged by seeing it unfold
in a conditional. (34) (pp. 272-273, notes omitted)
(34) For the unity of conditionals and the antecedent-consequent relationship, see Boethius, Top. Cic. IV. 1124-1126.
Erismann, Christophe. 2009. "The Medieval Fortunes of the Opuscula Sacra." In The Cambridge Companion to Boethius, edited
by Marenbon, John, 155-177. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
"The history of the medieval reception of the Opuscula sacra shows that, like late ancient philosophy, medieval philosophy was often
a question of exegesis. Early medieval philosophy is characterised by its frequent reliance on ancient, late ancient and Patristic texts, as a basis for
speculation. Commenting on an authority was often the occasion of expressing original thought, as noted by John Marenbon: ‘It is in commentaries that much of
the most important philosophical work of the ninth to twelfth centuries was accomplished.’ (6)
Despite its particular rules, the practice of commentary did not restrain philosophical thought; on the contrary, it often stimulated it.
Gilbert of Poitiers and Thomas Aquinas are good examples of this phenomenon.
I shall proceed in three stages: first, I shall give an historical overview of the medieval reception of the Opuscula sacra; I shall
then consider the methodological and lexical influence of Boethius, and conclude with a presentation of some of the philosophical discussions
which Boethius initiated in the Middle Ages." (pp. 156-157)
(6) John Marenbon (‘Making Sense of the de Trinitate: Boethius and Some of His Medieval Interpreters’, in Studia Patristica 18, ed.
E. A. Livingstone, Kalamazoo and Leuven: Cistercian Publications and Peeters, 446–52 1982) 446.
Evans, Jonathan R. 2001. The Boethian Solution to the Problem of Future Contingents and its Unorthodox Rivals, University of
Unpublished Ph.D. thesis available at ProQuest, reference number 3034374.
Abstract: "One concern bothering ancient and medieval philosophers is the logical worry discussed in Aristotle's De Interpretatione
9, that if future contingent propositions are true, then they are settled in a way that is incompatible with freedom. Another is if we grant God foreknowledge
of future contingent events then God's foreknowledge will determine those events in a way precluding freedom.
I begin by discussing the standard compatibilist solution to these problems as represented in Boethius's Consolation of Philosophy
and then examine theories that allegedly deviate from the Boethian solution. Boethius's solution to these separate problems involves showing that both problems
operate on an ambiguity in the scope of the modal operator ‘necessarily’ present in the articulation of the problem. Once the ambiguity is removed we see that
both disambiguations fail to offer a sound argument against the compatibility of free action with either God's omniscience or future contingent proposition's
being true. The only difference between the solutions is that before executing the scope distinction strategy in the theological problem, Boethius reminds us
that God knows future contingents rather than foreknowing them, since God is timeless.
The rest of my discussion examines positions that allegedly deviate from the Boethian solution: positions held by Peter de Rivo, William
Ockham and Plotinus. I argue that Ockham doesn't in fact deviate from the Boethian solution to the theological problem as is commonly held. Instead of offering
a compatibilist position where God's omniscience includes foreknowledge, Ockham denies that God foreknows the future advocating instead a more sophisticated
Boethian position. The other two philosophers, Rivo and Plotinus, deviate from Boethius, but unfortunately neither position appears philosophically plausible.
Rivo's incompatibilist solution to the logical problem is inconsistent with his retention of the Boethian solution to the theological problem and is probably
implausible on its own. Plotinus's compatibilist account fails not because it claims that necessity and freedom are compatible, but because the account of
moral responsibility Plotinus offers to justify the compatibility fails."
———. 2004. "Boethius on Modality and Future Contingents." American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly no. 78:247-271.
"In The Consolation of Philosophy Boethius addresses two main problems posed by the problem of future contingents that shed
important light on his conception of necessity and possibility: (1) a logical problem that alleges that if propositions about the future are true now then they
are necessarily true, and (2) a theological problem that centers on a supposed incompatibility between divine foreknowledge and a contingent future. In
contrast to established readings from the Consolation, this paper argues that a proper understanding of book 5 requires understanding the modal concepts
employed there in atemporal terms. This interpretation requires revising the traditional understanding of the two problems present in the Consolation text,
particularly in seeing how timeless knowledge or truth could be conceived as a threat to human freedom. It also stresses the importance of a strategy used by
Boethius to disambiguate the scope of modal operators used in his opponent's arguments and how that strategy unifies his discussion in book 5."
Ford, Lewis S. 1968. "Boethius and Whitehead on Time and Eternity." International Philosophical Quarterly no. 8:38-67.
Fortin, John R. 2004. "The Nature of Consolation in the Consolation of Philosophy." American Catholic Philosophical
Quarterly no. 78:293-308.
"Does The Consolation of Philosophy console? Is Philosophy able to bring the prisoner not simply to an acceptance of and
reconciliation with his situation, but further to move him beyond this to ultimate peace through philosophical activity? The Consolation does offer
some consolation but only ironically and not in the way intended by the character Philosophy. Philosophy is attempting to bring the prisoner to a philosophical
experience in which he will contemplate and enjoy eternal truths, and thereby be consoled. Nevertheless the prisoner will in the end reject this project which
takes him away from what he perceives to be his life's work. Philosophy's failure to console the prisoner is disconsoling in part to herself because the
prisoner ultimately rejects her invitation to become a martyr for her sake. It is disconsoling in part to the prisoner who seeks a consolation that would
support his firmly held desire to remain engaged in public life."
Frakes, Jerold C. 1984. "The ancient concept of casus and its early medieval interpretations." Vivarium no. 22:1-34.
"Even after the Prisoner has accepted Philosophia’s specific arguments concerning fortuna, however, he is not yet prepared to accept the
abstract principle necessitated by this analysis: i.e. that the all-encompassing divine ordo precludes the existence of any and all random events.
Thus Boethius presents in Cons. V, pr. 1 a brief analysis of the abstract concept of casus. This treatment is heavily
dependent on the Aristotelian and post-Aristotelian analyses, but Boethius omits much of the traditional material and incorporates subtle alterations into his
argument, especially in changing the emphases of the Aristotelian presentation, resulting to a certain degree in a new definition of chance. The concept
naturally undergoes further modifications in the post-Boethian tradition. The first attempts to assimilate the system of the Consolatio in
the vernacular were the translations by Alfred the Great in the ninth century into Old English and by Notker Labeo at the turn of the eleventh century into Old
High German. They further modify the tradition derived from antiquity, not only by translating the text of the Consolatio, their principle source for
that tradition, but also by attempting to translate Boethius’ system of thought in such a fashion as to render it accessible to their own cultures. The present
study investigates the concept of casus as it is developed by Boethius, Alfred and Notker in the context of the tradition. The analysis must then begin by
establishing this context, and thus Aristotle’s discussion of the topic must be briefly treated, since his was the first full examination of the problem, which
then through Boethius’ adaptation became the basis for medieval analyses." (pp. 1-2)
"Boethius transforms the Aristotelian concept through his ‘metaphysical’ perspective; Alfred treats Boethius’ transformation with the
reverence which he deemed appropriate for an ancient work of Christian philosophy, but in doing so transforms the concept again; and Notker presents an
annotated translation/edition. One sees in the three texts three quite distinct methods and products, and thus three different stages in the interpretation and
reception of the ancient philosophical concept of chance." (p. 33)
Gersh, Stephen. 1986. Middle Platonism and Neoplatonism. The Latin Tradition. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press.
Volume II, Part II, Neoplatonism, Chapter 9: Boethius, pp. 647-718.
"That Boethius should be considered primarily as part of the Platonic tradition follows from a consideration of both his aims and his
achievements. On the one hand, we have his projected but never completed program of translating with commentary all of Aristotle’s writings on logic, ethics,
and physics; of translating with commentary all of Plato’s dialogues; and of demonstrating that the two philosophers are in agreement on the most fundamental
questions. (2) This program should be understood in terms of the Alexandrian Neoplatonic one, in which Aristotle’s works were studied not for their own sake
but as introductions to Plato's philosophy. (3) On the other hand, we ave the extant work De Consolatione Philosophiae which includes not only
frequent allusions to passages in Plato’s Gorgias, Meno, Republic, and Timaeus (4) but also references to Plato as a profound philosophical
authority. (5) This should be contrasted with the same work’s relatively limited appeal to Aristotle’s Protrepticus and Physics. (6) But
Boethius was also a Christian, and this immediately leads to the question: how did he reconcile Platonism and Christianity? Here the influence of Augustine,
who is explicitly cited on one occasion as a source, (7) is perhaps the crucial factor. Indeed, Boethius seems to have fashioned the synthesis along his
redecessor’s lines, realizing clearly that this involved both a responsibility and an opportunity.
In the first place, only those aspects of Platonism consistent with the Christian teaching could be adopted. (8) Thus, Boethius made no place
in his theory for the order of henads postulated by Proclus; he combined the first and second hypostases of the Neoplatonists: the One and Intellect, in order
to remove a subordination element from the divinity; and he found little use for the Platonic doctrine of the world soul . (9) In requiring these modifications
of the doctrine derived from contemporary philosophical schools, Christianity played an indirect role in determining the character of the system which finally
In the second place, it was possible to pursue Platonism independently of Christian teaching from a methodological viewpoint. (10) This was
demonstrated when Boethius employed philosophical theories as additional support for dogmatic positions in De Trinitate and Contra Eutychen et
Nestorium. (11) and in detachment from theological dogma in De Consolatione Philosophiae. (12) In permitting such elaborate discussion of
philosophical questions to take place, Christianity assumed a subordinate role at least in the presentation of material.
That he is primarily a Platonist and that Christianity often plays merely an indirect or subordinate role in his arguments are two facts
which make it imperative to include Boethius in our survey of the pagan philosophical tradition in late antiquity. In describing his teaching, we shall
therefore take our starting point from its relation to the philosophical tenets of the pagan schools, although sometimes it will be necessary also to take
account of peculiarly Christian transformations of the material." (pp. 651-654)
(2) Boethius: In De Interpr. ed II. 2, 3, 79, 1-80, 17.
(3) See for example Elias: In Categ. pr. 123, 7-11.
(4) See Boethius: De Consol. Philos. IV, pr. 2. 1 ff. (to Plato: Gorg. 466 a ff. on the respective powers of the good and
the wicked); ibid. I. pr. 2, 13-14 ( to Plato: Meno 81 c ff . on learning as recollection ); ibid. I. pr. t, 18-21 (to Plato: Rep. V. i
7.3c-d on the need for philosopher-kings); ibid. III. pr. 9. 99-101 (to Plato: Tim. 27b on the need to pray for divine assistance); ibid. 111. pr. 12.
110-112 (to Plato: Tim. 29h on language and reality); and ibid. V, pr. 6, 31 ff. (to Plato: Tim. 37d on the perpetuity of the cosmos). On the
passages in this work influenced by Plato see P. Courcelle: Late Latin Writers and their Greek Sources, translated by H . E. Wedeck (Cambridge, MA,
1969), pp. 296-297 and J. Gruber: Kommentar zu Boethius De consolatione philosophiae (Texte und¡ Commentate 9) (Berlin/New York, 1978), p. 36.
(5) In the passages mentioned above Philosophy refers to our Plato’ (Plato noster), to Plato’s decree' (Platone
sanciente). and so on.
(6) See Boethius: De Consol. Philos. III, pr. 8, 23 together with lamblichus: Protr. 8. 47, 13 (to Aristotle:
Protr. on the eyes of Lynceus); ibid. V, pr. 1, 33 ff. (to Aristotle: Phys. II, 4, 195b 31 ff. on the relation between causation and chance);
and ibid. V. pr . 6, 18-22 (to Aristotle: De Caelo II, 1. 283b26-31 on the world's eternity). On the passages in this work influenced by Aristotle see
Courcelle: La Consolation de Philosophie dans la tradition littéraire. Antecedents et posterité de Boece, pp. 25-26 and 124-125; and Gruber: op. cit.,
(7) At De Trin. pr. 31 -.32 Boethius asks the addressee: ’ You should however examine whether the seeds of argument from Saint
Augustine's works have borne any fruit in my writing' (Vobis tamen etiam illud inspiciendum est, an ex beati Augustini scriptis semina rationum aliquos in
nos venientia fructus extulerint).
(8) Cf . Augustine: De Vera Relig. 4, 7 (CCSL 32, 192-193) where it is stated that the Platonists could become Christians by
changing a few words and opinions. The kinds of modification required are described in texts like Conf. VII, 9 (CSEL 33/1, 154-157); Civ.
Dei. X, 30 (CCSL 47. 307-308); etc.
(9) These doctrines will be discussed in detail below.
(10). Cf. Augustine: De Ord. II, 5, 16 (CCSL 29, 115-116) where two separate methodological routes to the doctrine of the Trinity
are postulated: that of reason and that of faith. That the first method is prior in reality and the latter prior in time is stated at ibid. II, 9, 26 (CCSL 29.
121- 1 22).
(11) In accordance with this approach, certain chapters like Boethius: De trin. 2 and 4; Contra Eutych. et Nest. 1-3 are
free of explicitly Christian content.
(12) In accordance with this approach, the only indisputable scriptural citation is that of Sap. 8: 1 at Boethius: De Consol.
Philos. III, pr. 12. 63-64.
———. 1998. "Dialectical and Rhetorical Space: The Boethian Theory of Topics and its Influence During the Early Middle Ages." In Raum und
Raumvorstellungen in Mittelalter, edited by Aertsen, Jan A. and Speer, Andreas, 391-401. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.
"According to L. Obertello's chronology, Boethius' writings on topics: the commentary on Cicero's 'Topica' and the 'De Topicis Differentiis'
date from the last few years of his life (ca. 518 — 524) (1). They do indeed reveal the maturity of reflection characteristic of a thinker who has translated
and commented upon Aristotle's Organon and is perhaps on the threshold of elaborating the Platonic synthesis of which 'De Consolatione Philosophiae'
stands as a poignant reminder. In this paper I hope to show how the notion of 'place' (locus) developed in Boethius' topical writings lies at the
heart of important issues not only in rhetoric and dialectic but also in metaphysics." (p. 391)
"Boethius develops in response to Cicero two definitions of 'topic': a. A topic is the seat or foundation of an argument (24); and b. A topic
is that from which one draws an argument (25). These formulations are of considerable interest because of the connection established with the notion of
Since for Boethius, an argument is a rather complicated phenomenon — on the surface it is simply a reason producing belief regarding
something which is in doubt (26), yet on a deeper level it embraces the complementary aspects of being 1a. something expressed verbally (27) and 1b. something
thought conceptually (28); and 2a. a connected set of propositions (29) and 2b. that through which propositions are connected (30) — then we must allow that
this complexity arises from the topic as the argument's source. Thus, it may be that a topic is implicitly both verbal and conceptual, both connected and
connecting (31)." (p. 395)
(1) See L. Obertello, Severino Boezio I, Genova 1974, 342. Cf. L. M. de Rijk, 'On the Chronology of Boethius' Works on Logic II',
in: Vivarium 2 (1964), 159-161.
(26) De top. diff.. I, 1180 C; In Cic. Top. I, 1048 B.
(27) In Cic. Top. I, 1050 Β oratione prolatum. Strictly speaking, Boethius distinguishes I. 'argumentation' (argumentatio) which is verbal and II. 'argument' (argumentum) which is conceptual. See In Cic. Top. I, 1050B. However, the
distinction having been made quickly breaks down in practice. See In Cic. Top. I, 1053 B.
(28) De top. diff. I, 1180 C ratio.
(29) In Cic. Top. I, 1050 Β propositionum contexione dispositum.
(30) In Cic. Top. I, 1051 A medietatis inventio. The mediating function of a topic is an important matter which cannot be
pursued here. In brief, it operates in an argument by supplying either a middle term or a second premiss for a syllogism. See Stump, Boethius's De topicis
differentiis, 183-204 for detailed discussion. Cf. O. Bird, 'The Formalizing of the Topics in Mediaeval Logic', in: Notre Dame Journal of Formal
Logic 1 (1960), 138-149; id., 'The Tradition of Logical Topics. Aristotle to Ockham', in: Journal of the History of Ideas 23 (1962), 307-323; J.
Pinborg, 'Topik und Syllogistik im Mittelalter', in: Sapienter Ordinare. Festgabe für E. Kleineidam, Leipzig 1969, 157-178; id., Logik und
Semantik im Mittelalter. Ein Überblick, Stuttgart - Bad Cannstatt 1972, 21 sqq., 69 sqq.
(31) That the topic cannot be totally separated from its argument follows from the dynamic nature of both. See below.
———. 2012. "The First Principles of Latin Neoplatonism: Augustine, Macrobius, Boethius." Vivarium no. 50:113-138.
Abstract: "This essay attempts to provide more evidence for the notions that there actually is a Latin (as opposed to a Greek) Neoplatonic
tradition in late antiquity, that this tradition includes a systematic theory of first principles, and that this tradition and theory are influential in
Western Europe during the Middle Ages. The method of the essay is intended to be novel in that, instead of examining authors or works in a chronological
sequence and attempting to isolate doctrines in the traditional manner, it proceeds by identifying certain philosophemes (a concept borrowed from structuralist
and post-structuralist thought and here signifying certain minimal units from which philosophical “systems“ can be constructed), and then studying the
combination and re-combination of these philosophemes consciously and unconsciously by a selection of important medieval writers. These philosophemes occur in
Augustine, De Genesi ad Litteram; Augustine, De Trinitate; Augustine, De Vera Religione; Augustine, De Musica; Macrobius,
Commentarius in Somnium Scipionis; and Boethius, De Consolatione Philosophiae. The sampling of medieval authors who use these philosophemes
includes Eriugena, William of Conches, Thierry of Chartres, and Nicholas of Cusa."
Gibson, Margaret, ed. 1981. Boethius. His Life, Thought and Influence. Oxford: Blackwell.
Table of Contents: Henry Chadwick: Introduction 1; John Matthews: Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius 15; Helen Kirkby: The scholar and his
public 44; Jonathan Barnes: Boethius and the study of logic 73; Patrick Osmund Lewry: Boethian logic in the medieval West 90; John Caldwell: The De
institutione arithmetica and the De institutione musica 135; David Pingree: Boethius' geometry and astronomy 155; Alison White: Boethius in the
medieval quadrivium 162; John R. S. Mair: The text of the Opuscula sacra 206; Margaret Templeton Gibson: The Opuscula sacra in the Middle
Ages 214; Anna M. Crabbe: Literary design in the De consolatione philosophiae 237; David Ganz: A tenth-century drawing of Philosophy visiting Boethius
275; Jacqueline Beaumont: The Latin tradition of the De consolatione philosophiae 278; Christopher Page: The Boethian metrum Bella bis
quinis: a new song from Saxon Canterbury 306; Alastair J. Minnis: Aspects of the medieval French and English traditions of the De consolatione
philosophiae 312; Nigel F. Palmer: Latin and vernacular in the northern European tradition of the De consolatione philosophiae 362; Anthony
Grafton; Epilogue: Boethius in the Renaissance 410; Malcolm R. Godden: King Alfred's Boethius 419; Malcolm Beckwith Parkes: A Note on MS Vatican, Bibl. Apost.,
lat. 3363 425; Diane K. Bolton: Illustrations in manuscripts of Boethius' works 428-437.
———. 1981. "The Opuscola Sacra in the Middle Ages." In Boethius. His Life, Thought and Influence, edited by Gibson,
Margaret, 214-234. Oxford: Blackwell.
"Ergo, domine, non solum es quo maius cogitari nequit, sed es quiddam maius quam cogitari possit. St Anselm, Proslogion c. 1078
Over five centuries earlier Boethius had made the same point: we cannot extend our thought and language to describe God. ‘Ten categories can
be predicated of all things: substance, quality, quantity, relation, place, time, condition, position, being active or passive . . . But if you apply them to
God, everything in the case is changed5. (3) For both the acknowledged master was Augustine. ‘When we think of God the Trinity, (5) he had written ‘our very
thought itself is aware of how far it falls short of its object; it does not grasp God as he is, but through a glass darkly. (4) Yet Augustine persevered.
Throughout the fifteen books of the De Trinitate he defined his linguistic tools and applied them to the nature of God. Within his own terms it is
virtually complete: Boethius and Anselm say nothing that is not said in greater detail in the De Trinitate. Augustine was the catalyst, and the quarry
of material, bold explorer of the divine and at the same time a sheltering authority. (5)
Given the dominance of the De Trinitate, we may well ask why the Opuscula Sacra had any future beyond the remote political
infighting of the early sixth century. Boethius' prose has a hard clarity of expression that may seem more objective than Augustine’s, and here at least he is
brief. Such qualities — and no doubt others which I have not discerned — commended the Opuscula as teaching texts, and it was principally in the
schoolroom that they were to survive: as useful lo the electic scholars of the ninth century as to the sophisticated professionals of twelfth-century Paris and
fifteenth-century Cracow." (pp. 214-215)
(2) Proslogion, cap. 15: Anseimi Opera, ed. F. S. Schmitt (Edinburgh, 1946), I. 112.
(3) Op. Sac. I. iv. 1-9.
(4) Augustine, De Trinitate V. i, ed. W. J. Mountain (Turnhout, 1968: CCSL 1), p. 206, quoting 1 Cor. 13. 12.
(5) Ex beati Augustini scriptis semina rationum ... in nos uenientia (Op. Sac. I praef. 31-3) ; Quapropter si cui uidebitur, quod
in eodem opusculo aliquid protulerim, quod aut nimis nouum sit aut a ueritate dissentiat: rogo, ne statim me aut praesumptorem nouitatum aut falsitatis
assertorem exclamet, sed prius libros praefati doctoris Augustini De trinitate diligenter perspiciat, deinde secundum eos opusculum meum diiudicet (Monologion prol. : Anselmi Opera, ed. cit. [note 2 above], I. 8).
Gracia, Jorge J.E. 1981. "Boethius and the Problem of Individuation in the Commentaries on the Isagoge." In Congresso
Internazionale di Studi Boeziani (Pavia, 5-8 ottobre 1980): atti, edited by Obertello, Luca, 169-182. Roma: Editrice Herder.
"The paper I am going to read here consists of a section from a much longer study on which I am presently working. This longer study deals
with the problem of individuation not only in relation to Boethius, but also discusses the views of other early medieval figures, such as John Eriugena,
Gilbert of Poitiers and Abailard. Unfortunately, due to time constraints I cannot engage here in a presentation of the views of so many authors. My efforts,
therefore, will be directed only to the presentation of Boethius’ views on the stated topic and to the defense of my interpretation of those views. (1)
Moreover, again for reasons of time, I shall have to restrict my remarks to Boethius’ views as presented in the two editions of his Commentary on Porphyry's «
Isagoge » (2)." (p. 169)
(1) I would like to express my appreciation to Eleonore Stump for reading an early draft of this paper and for bringing to my attention a
number of ambiguities and infelicities present in the text.
(2) In « Isagogen » Porphyrii commentorum editio secunda, ed. Samuel Brandt, in Corpus scriptorum ecclesiasticorum
latinorum, vol. XXXXVIII (Vienna: Tempsky, 1906; rep. N.Y.: Johnson Rep. Corp., 1966), p. 135; PL 64, 71.
Hall, Douglas C. 1992. The Trinity: An Analysis of St Thomas Aquinas’ Expositio of the De Trinitate of Boethius. Leiden: Brill.
Contents: I. Introduction 1; II. Boethius: The Theological Tractates 16; III. Aquinas: The Expositio of the De
Trinitate 38; IV. Conclusion 112; Bibliography 124; Index of Authors 130-131.
"In the entire history of Western Trinitarian theology, one of the most bold attempts to logically and philosophically penetrate the De
Trinitate of Augustine was, precisely, the Trinitas unus Deus ac non tres Dii (The Trinity is One God and not Three Gods) - also known
as the De Trinitate - of Boethius; and the greatest medieval analysis of this theological tractate of Boethius was that of Thomas Aquinas. The purpose
of the present study is to disclose the theological methodologies and the contents of this Boethian tractate and the Expositio of Aquinas." (p. 2)
Harding, Brian. 2005. "Metaphysical Speculation and its Applicability to a Mode of Living: The Case of Boethius’ De Consolatione
Philosophiae." Bochumer Philosophisches Jahrbuch Fur Antike Und Mittelalter no. 9:81-92.
Abstract: "This paper argues that Boethius’ De Consolatione Philosophiae presents theoretical metaphysical speculation as having a
direct bearing on the life of the metaphysician. Boethius accomplishes this through his depiction of Lady Philosophy’s ‘therapy’ wherein complex metaphysical
arguments are utilized to pull Boethius out of his depression, returning him to what she calls his true self. I begin the paper by contextualizing this
discussion in terms of the debate as to whether or not the ‘philosophic life’ of pagan antiquity is present in medieval thought. I then turn to a discussion of
the therapeutic metaphysical arguments of Lady Philosophy and their effects on Boethius’ mental and emotional state. I conclude the essay by listing some
questions raised and directions for further study."
Helm, Paul. 2009. "Eternity and Vision in Boethius." European Journal for Philosophy of Religion no. 1:77 - 97.
Abstract: "Boethius and Augustine of Hippo and are two of the fountainheads from which the long tradition of regarding God's existence as
timelessly eternal has flowed, a tradition which has influenced not only Christianity, but Judaism and Islam too. But though the two have divine eternality in
common, I shall argue that in other respects, in certain crucial respects, they differ significantly over how they articulate that notion."