Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Manlius Man That Ever Was Seen

The Consolation of Philosophy: Revised Edition (Penguin Classics)The Consolation of Philosophy: Revised Edition by Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

How absolutely delightful: an honest use for Philosophy. Never again will I agree with Edward de Vere that there was never yet philosopher that could endure the toothache patiently: here is a man who endured a dungeon and finally an unjust death. Here is yet another example of the proof that "Wisdom infinite must form the best" world; if it took the torment of Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius to create his magnum opus, which of us would deny that, if he must die, as he must, this method of his death was by far the best? If it took such a fire to create so pure a gold, who could judge the suffering as needless? Who among us could have known that a penalty that must be paid could be put to such an use as this?

Lightly drifting from poetry into prose, carrying on a dialogue with Madame Philosophy, who appeared, as Dante's Virgil, to lead him through the darkened paths of his mind and reveal to him the causes of his torment, beginning with two: he had forgotten the end aim of all things, and he had forgotten what man truly is. The journey is well worth taking, and I would venture to say that it's essential. As a delightful aside: one of the earliest English translations of this book (which has been translated into every European tongue), if not the earliest, was a paraphrase by none other than Chesterton's White Horse King, King Alfred the Great.

I have read Philosophers, and have often thought little of them. I like Hume, as he manages to cut off not only everyone else's feet but his own also. I feel badly for Nietschze, who, proclaiming loudly that pity was a vice, that the weak should be allowed to perish so as to improve the overall quality of life for all men, ended his own life as a madman confined to a wheelchair, being fed soup from another's hand. I have read Philosophers as a man pores through an abandoned mine shaft for the treasure so often found, but I have rarely enjoyed the search, and often feel as Eustace or Pole emerging from the underworld, as I emerge to once again breathe the free air of Donne, Tolkien or Chesterton. This is the first time that I have found so great a quantity of wealth so beautifully arranged under a moonlit sky, and I am basking in the glory of it all. Philosophy is truly a gift from God, and one of His greatest.

This book is magnificent, and truly worth any price. Which is good, as Boethius paid a great one for it.

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1 comment:

Bobbi Jo said...

Agreed (although you say these things so much better than I would).

He has a glorious couple of lines where he asks that his soul may be directed by that same love which keeps the heavens in their right order. They are quite fine. But I don't have my book, or my commonplace book, here with me to quote.

Wodehousian Fun