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date: 17 January 2021

Boethius, Anicius Manlius Severinuslocked

, c. 480–c. 524 ce
  • Samuel James Beeching Barnish

Extract

The Ostrogothic king *Theoderic (1) appointed this leading nobleman consul (510), and *magister officiorum (?522). He resisted official oppression, was implicated in a senatorial conspiracy, imprisoned, and executed. His De consolatione philosophiae is a prison dialogue with Philosophy, a *Menippean mixture of prose and verse, owing much to *Martianus Capella and *Augustine. It justifies providence on a Stoic and Neoplatonic basis (see stoicism; neoplatonism), without overt *Christianity; its reconciliation of free will and divine prescience is philosophically notable; it shows high literary genius, and an astounding memory for classical texts under trying conditions. Boethius' Greek scholarship was rare in Italy; he planned introductions and translations for the mathematical and logical disciplines, and complete translations of *Plato (1) and *Aristotle. The project was never completed, and much is lost or fragmentary. Survivors: De arithmetica and Institutio musica (on which see below); a commentary on *Cicero's Topics, translations and commentaries for *Porphyry's Isagoge, and Aristotle's Prior Analytics, Categories, and Perihermeneias; translations of Aristotle's Topics and Sophistici elenchi.

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