Front Page Titles (by Subject) XXXI - The Consolation of Philosophy
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XXXI - 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. 76. WHEN Philosophy had sung this lay she began to discourse again, and spake thus: ‘What good can we say of fleshly vices? For whosoever will forsake them must suffer great privation and many afflictions; for superfluity ever nourishes vices, and vices have great need of repentance, and there is no repentance without sorrow and privation. Alas, how many sicknesses and sorrows, and what heavy vigils and what great miseries, are his whose desires are evil in this world! And how many more evils, thinkest thou, will he have after this life as the reward of his misdeeds? Even so a woman in travail bringeth forth a child and suffereth great pains, according as she hath formerly enjoyed great delight. I cannot therefore understand what joy worldly pleasures bring to those that love them. If now it be said that he is happy that fulfils all his worldly lusts, why may it not also be said that beasts are happy, whose will is enslaved by nothing else but greed and lust? Very pleasant is it for a man to have wife and children, and yet many children are begotten to their parents’ destruction, for many a woman dies in childbirth before she can bear the child; and moreover we have learned that long ago there happened a most unwonted and unnatural evil, to wit that sons conspired together and plotted against their father. Nay, worse still, we have heard in old story how of yore a certain son slew his father;I know not in what way, but we know that it was an inhuman deed. Lo, also, every one knows what heavy sorrow falls to a man in the care of his children; indeed, I need not tell thee this, for thou hast found it out for thyself. My master Euripides says, concerning the heavy care that children are, that often it were better for an unhappy father never to have had children at all.’
When Philosophy had finished this discourse she began to chaunt again, and thus spake in her song: ‘Lo! the evil desire of unlawful lust disturbeth the mind of well-nigh every man that liveth. Even as the bee must die when she stingeth in her anger, so must every soul perish after unlawful lust, except a man return to virtue.’
[P. 76. ]A most unwonted and unnatural evil, &c. The Latin has ‘nescioquem filios invenisse tortores’