Neoplatonism Through the Renaissance


Was Boëthius guilty or innocent of plotting against Theodoric the Great?

Boëthius (480–c. 525) was arrested for suspicion of treason after his correspondence with Constantinople was disclosed. He had been very critical of Theodoric during his first year as Master of Offices under Theodoric the Great (454–526), and this resulted in several enemies. They convinced Theodoric, based on his theological writings that seemed to support the Eastern Church, that Boëthius sympathized with Justinian, who ruled in the remains of the Roman Empire in the East and aspired to reunite the Empire. (The Church had split into two churches in 318 over the tenets of Arianism, which denied the trinity.)

Boëthius’ executioners beat him to death after tightening a cord around his neck, which caused his eyes to pop out of his head. Theodoric later regretted this cruel death sentence, but soon after his arrest, Boëthius had said, “Had there been any hopes of liberty I should have freely indulged them. Had I known of a conspiracy against the King … you would not have known of it from me.”


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