Consolation of Philosophy

Boethius wrote his Consolation of Philosophy in the prison where he died in the early 6th century AD. He imagines the muses Philosophy and Fortune visiting him in the prison where he is killed shortly after, each muse bringing her own special comfort and advice.

Our short film adopts conjectural pronunciation for Italian Latin of the 6th century AD: ‘ae’ as ‘e’ in wet; ‘c’ and ‘g’ soften before ‘i’ or ‘e’ (hard in classical Latin); consonantal ‘i’ pronounced as a ‘j’; and an initial ‘v’ similar to English ‘v’; but like our ‘w’ in the middle of a word.

Students and teachers from the Latin Qvarter recreate the final days of Boethius …

DVD Goddesses, Myths and Mortals available with three short films, The Choice of Paris, Dido and Aeneas and The Consolation of Philosophy.

With subtitle options and Latin and English scripts.

Contact us for details.

Boethius (c.480-524) has been described as the last of the Roman philosophers and one of the first scholastic theologians. In more senses than one his life represents something of a gateway, a passing point between the two worlds of ancient Rome and medieval Europe, between philosophical fatalism and Christian hope, between Roman pluralism and the one God. He was among the last of the Stoics and first of the martyrs.
      A statesman and philosopher under the emperor Theodoric, Boethius fell from favour, was condemned and imprisoned in Pavia, where shortly before he died under torture he wrote his Consolation of Philosophy. The central figure of the Consolatio is the ‘Lady Philosophy’, a pagan presence in a Christian world. She visits his cell and encourages him to look beyond his immediate suffering and to recognise the pointlessness of Fortune, for whose fair-weather charms she urges caution.
      The Stoics shared with Christians the intention to confront life’s hardships without complaint, but viewed the causes of their suffering differently. Fortuna was a hazard of life, who had to be tolerated: she was the most worshipped deity in the ancient world. Christians, on the other hand, were inspired by an omniscient and benign God. Boethius – a born Christian but with the education of a Stoic – wrestles with a dilemma that has been at the heart of Christian thought all through the ages, from Genesis to today: the reconciliation of human suffering and divine goodness. His Consolatio was one of the most prized and influential books of the middle ages.