Neoplatonism Through the Renaissance


How is Boëthius’ Consolation of Philosophy both stoic and Neoplatonic?

The Consolation of Philosophy was written as a dialogue in which Boëthius (480–c. 525), in despair, is visited by Philosophy in the form of an uplifting and encouraging angel. Philosophy says to Boëthius:

What is it, mortal man, that has cast you down into grief and mourning? You have seen something unwonted, it would seem, something strange to you. But if you think that Fortune has changed towards you, you are wrong. These are ever her ways: this is her very nature. She has with you preserved her own constancy by her very change. She was ever changeable at the time when she smiled upon you, when she was mocking you with the allurements of false good Fortune. You have discovered both the different faces of the blind goddess.

That Boëthius could have an angel appear to him is an occurrence with roots in Neoplatonist theurgy, or magic. And that the angel instills peace of mind in the face of turmoil and apparent misfortune evokes a decidedly stoic doctrine.


This is a web preview of the "The Handy Philosophy Answer Book" app. Many features only work on your mobile device. If you like what you see, we hope you will consider buying. Get the App