Front Page Titles (by Subject) XXI - The Consolation of Philosophy
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XXI - Boethius, The Consolation of Philosophy [520 AD]
King Alfred’s Version of the Consolations of Boethius. Done into Modern English, with an Introduction by Walter John Sedgefield Litt.D. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1900).
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P. 50. WHEN Philosophy had finished this discourse, she began to chaunt, and in her singing said: ‘One Creator there is without any doubt, and He is the ruler of heaven and earth and of all creatures, visible and invisible, even God almighty. Him serve all things that serve, they that know Him and they that know Him not, they thatP. 51.know they are serving Him and they that know it not. He hath established unchanging habits and natures, and likewise natural concord among all His creatures, even as He hath willed, and for as long as He hath willed; and they shall remain for ever. The motions of the moving bodies cannot be stayed nor turned aside from their course and their appointed order, but the Lord hath so caught and led, and managed all His creatures with His bridle, that they can neither cease from motion, nor yet move more swiftly than the length of His rein alloweth them. Almighty God hath so constrained all His creatures with His power, that each of them is in conflict with the other, and yet upholdeth the other, so that they may not break away but are brought round to the old course, and start afresh. Such is their variation that opposites, while conflicting among themselves, yet preserve unbroken harmony together. Thus do fire and water behave, the sea and the earth, and many other creatures that are as much at variance as they are; but yet in their variance they can not only be in fellowship, but still more, one cannot exist without the other, and ever one contrary maketh the due measure of the other. So also cunningly and befittingly hath Almighty God established the law of change for all His creatures. Consider springtime and autumn; in spring things grow, in autumn they wither away. Again, take summer and winter; in summer it is warm, in winter cold. So also the sun bringeth bright days, and at night the moon shineth, by the might of the same God. He forbiddeth the sea to overstep the threshold of the earth, having fixed their boundaries in such wise that the sea may not broaden her border over the motionless earth. By the same order the alternation of the flow and ebb is ruled. These ordinances God suffereth to stand as long as He willeth, but whenever He shall loose the bridle-rein wherewith He hath bridled His creatures (that is, the law of contraries we have mentioned), and let them fall asunder, they shall leave their present harmony, and, striving together each according to his own will, abandon their fellowship, and destroy all this world, and themselves be brought to nought. The same God uniteth people in friendship, and assembleth them in marriages of pure affection; He bringeth together friends and comrades so that they loyally observe concord and friendship. Oh, how blessed were mankind if their minds were as straight and as firmly based and ordered as the rest of creation is!’
Here endeth the second book of the Consolations of Boethius, and here beginneth the third.Boethius was called by a second name Severinus, and was a Roman leader or consul.
[P. 50. ]Chap. xxi is a great expansion of Boeth. bk. ii. metr. 8, treating of the power of Love
[P. 51. ]The passages in italics are founded on explanatory notes in the commentaries.