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On this page: Boethus


Being the last Roman of any note who understood the language and studied the literature of'Greece, and living on the boundary of the ancient and modern world, he is one of the most important links between them. As it had been the great object of his public life to protect the declining fortunes of Rome against the oppression of the barbarian in­vaders, so it was the great object of his literary life to keep alive the expiring light of Greek literature amidst the growing ignorance of the age. The complete ruin of the ancient world, which fol­lowed almost immediately on his death, imparted, to this object an importance and to himself a celebrity far beyond what he could ever have anticipated. In the total ignorance of Greek writers which prevailed from the 6th to the 14th century, he was looked upon as the head and type of all philosophers, as Augustin was of all theology and Virgil of all literature, and hence the tendency throughout the middle ages to invest him with a distinctly Christian and almost miraculous charac­ter. InDante,e.<7. he is thus described (Farad, x. 124) :—

Per veder ogni ben dentro vi gocle L' anima santa, che '1 mondo fallace Fa manifesto a chi di lei ben ode ; Lo corpo, ond 'ella fu cacciata, giace Giuso in Cieldatiro, ed essa da martiro E da esiglio venue a questa pace. After the introduction of the works of Aristotle into Europe in the 13th century, Boethius's fame gradu­ally died away, and he affords a remarkable instance of an author, who having served a great purpose for nearly 1000 years, now that that purpose has been accomplished, will sink into obscurity as general as was once his celebrity. The first author who quotes his works is Hincmar (i. 211, 460, 474, 521), a. d. 850, and in the subsequent literature of the middle ages the Consolatio gave birth to imitations, translations, and commentaries, in­numerable. (Warton's Eny. Poet. ii. 342, 348.) Of four classics in the Paris library in a. d. 1300 this was one. (Ib. i. p. cxii.) Of translations the most famous were one into Greek, of the poetical portions of the work, by Maximus Planudes (first published by Weber, Darmstadt, 1833), into Hebrew by Ben Banschet (Wolf. Bill. Heb. i. 229, 1092, 243, 354, 369 ; Fabric. Bibl. Lat. iii. 15), into old High German at the beginning of the 11 th century, by St. Gallen; into French by J. Meun, in 1300, at the order of Philip the Fair ; but above all, that into Anglo-Saxon by Alfred the Great, which is doubly interesting, (].) as one of the earliest specimens of Anglo-Saxon literature; (2.) as the chief literary relic of Alfred himself, whose own mind appears not only in the freedom of the translation, but also in large original inser­tions relative to the kingly office, or to Christian history, which last fact strikingly illustrates the total absence of any such in Boethius's own work. (Of this the best edition is by J. S. Cardale, with notes and translation, 1828.) ,

Of imitations may be mentioned (1), Chaucer's Testament of Love. (Warton's Eny.Poet. ii. 295.) 2. Consolatio Monachorum., by Echard, 1130. 3. Consolatio TJieologiae^ by Gerson. 4. The King's Complaint, by James I. 5. An Imitation, by Charles, Duke of Orleans, in the 15th century.

Boethius's own works are as follow: — 1. De Consolatione Philosophiae. Of its moral and religious character no more need be said. In a



literary point of view, it is a dialogue between himself and Philosophy, much in the style of the Pastor of Hernias,— a work which it resembles in the liveliness of personification, though inferior to it in variety and superior in diction. The alter­nation of prose and verse is thought to have been suggested by the nearly contemporary work of Marcianus Capella on the nuptials of Mercury and Philology. The verses are almost entirely bor­rowed from Seneca.

2. De Unitate et Ifno, and De ArilJimetica libri ii. ; 3. De Musica libri v. ; 4. De Geometria libri ii. ; 5. In Porphyrii Phoenicis Isayogen de Praedi-cabilibus a Victorino translatam Diologi ii. ; 6. In eandem a se Latine versam Escpositio secunda libris totidem ; 7. In Categorias Aristotelis libri ii.; 8. In librum Aristotelis de Interpretation Minorum Commentariorum libri ii., and a second ed. called Comment. Majora, in 6 books ; 9. Analyticorum Aristotelis prior urn- et posteriorum libri iv.; 10. In-troductio ad Cateyoricos Syllogismos ; 11. De Syllo-gismo Categorico libri ii., and De Hypothdico Libri ii. ; 12. De Divisione, and De Dejinitione; 13. To-picorum Aristotelis libri viii. ; 14. Elencliorzim So-plmticorum libri ii. ; 15. In Topica Ciceronis libri vi.; 16. De Differentiis Topicis libri iv. The first collected edition of his works was published at Venet., fol., 1491 (or 1492); the best and most complete at Basel, 1570, fol.

The chief ancient authorities for his life are the Epistles of Ennodius and Cassiodorus, and the History of Procopius. The chief modern autho­rities are Fabric. Bibl. Lat. iii. 15; Tiraboschi, vol. iii. lib. 1. cap. 4 ; Hand, in Ersch and Gruber's Encyclop'ddie; Barberini, Crit. storica Exposizione della Vita di Sev. tioczio, Pavia, 1783 ; Heyne, Censura ingenii, Qc. Boethii, Gottin.1806. [A.P. S.J

BOETHUS (Bo-nets). 1. A Stoic philosopher who perhaps lived even before the time of Chry sippus, and was the author of several works. One of them was entitled irepl ^uo-ecos, from which Diogenes Laertius (vii. 148) quotes his opinion about the essence of God ; another was called -rrepl ei/aapjue^s, of which the writer (vii. 149) mentions the eleventh book. This latter work is, in all proba­bility the one to which Cicero refers in his treatise on Divination (i. 8, ii. 21). Philo (de Mund. incorrupt, ii. p. 497, ed. Mangey) mentions him together with Posidonius, a.nd it is not improbable that this Boethus is- the one mentioned by Plu­tarch. (De Placit. Philos. iii. 2.)

2. An Epicurean philosopher and geometrician, who is mentioned by Plutarch (de Pyth. Orac. p. 396, d.), and is introduced by the same writer in the Symposiaca (v. 1, p. 673, c.); but nothing fur­ther is known about him.

3. A Platonic philosopher and grammarian, who wrote a Lexicon to Plato's works (avva.'ywyri \Qeow TlkaToaviK&v}, dedicated to Melantlms, which Photius (Cod. 154) preferred to the similar work of Timaeus still extant. Another work on the ambiguous words of Plato (wept rwv irapa IIAa- t(icvl diropovtj.£vwv Ae£€w*>) was dedicated to Athe- nagoras. (Phot. Cod. 155.) Whether he is the same as the Boethus who wrote an exegesis to the Phaenomena of Aratus (Geminus, Introd. ad Phaen. 14) is uncertain, and also whether he is the one against whom Porphyrius wrote his work irtpl "fyvxns. (Euseb. Praep. Evang. xiv. 10, xv. 11, 16 v comp. Hesych. s. v. 5ia Trdvrtav icpir^s; Aeneas, Gaz. Theopkr. p. 16,) [L. S.]

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