Front Page Titles (by Subject) XXII - The Consolation of Philosophy
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XXII - 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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WHEN Philosophy had sung this lay, she had so captivated me with the delightfulness of her song, that I was in an admiration, and very eager to hear her with all my heart; and very soon after I called to her and spake thus: ‘O Philosophy, that art the highest comfort of all weary souls, how thou hast comforted me with thy acute discourse and thy delightful singing! Thou hast so cheered and convinced me with thy wisdom that I think I can not only bear this misfortune that hath come upon me, but, even if yet graver peril befell me, I should never again say that it was undeserved; for I know that I deserve even greater and heavier sorrows. But I would hear somewhat more concerning the medicine of thy doctrine. For though thou saidst a little while ago that it would seem exceeding bitter to me, as thou didst think, yet I do not now fear it, but am very eager both to hear it and to have it; therefore I beg thee very earnestly to fulfil the promise thou madest to me just now.’
Then said Philosophy, ‘I quickly perceived, when thou didst hold thy peace and didst hearken with such pleasure to my teaching, that thou wast ready to grasp it and ponder it with thine inward mind. Therefore I waited till I was certain of what thou didst desire, and how thou wouldst understand it, and I strove very earnestly to make thee apprehend it. But now I will tell thee of what nature is the medicine of my doctrine that thou dost ask me for. It is very bitter in the mouth, and makes the throat smart when thou first dost taste it, but it grows sweet when it is swallowed, and is very soothing in the stomach, and returns a very sweet savour. If thou knewest whither I now mean to take thee, doubtless thou wouldst hasten thither eagerly and wouldst be mightily inflamed with desire for it, for I heard thee say before how eager thou wast to hear it.’
M. Whither wilt thou now lead me?
P. I mean to lead thee to True Happiness, whereof thou dost often conjecture and dream; but as yet thou canst not find the right way to it, being yet mazed with the outward show of False Happiness.
M. I pray thee to show me beyond all doubt what True Happiness is.
P. I will gladly do so for love of thee; but I must show thee some analogy by way of example until the matter becomes more familiar to thee, so that, having clearly apprehended the example, thou mayest by the analogy arrive at an understanding of True Happiness, and forsake what is contrary to it, namely False Happiness, and then with thy whole soul strive earnestly to attain to the happiness that endureth for ever.