118 - Fate, Hope and Clarity: Boethius

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Boethius ushers in the medieval age with expert works on Aristotle, subtle treatises on theology, and the Consolation of Philosophy, written while he awaited execution.



Further Reading

• Boethius, Theological Tractates and Consolation of Philosophy, trans. H.F. Stewart E.K. Rand, and S.J. Tester (London: 1973).

• Boethius, Consolation of Philosophy, trans. J.C. Relihan (Indianapolis: 2001).

• M. Gibson (ed.), Boethius. His Life, Thought and Influence (Oxford: 1981).

• S. MacDonald, “Boethius’s Claim that all Substances are Good,” Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie 70 (1988), 245–79.

• J. Marenbon, Boethius (New York: 2003).

• J. Marenbon (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Boethius (Cambridge: 2009).


Ollie Killingback on 3 March 2013


Once Boethius is in the past, will it be an opportune moment to change the introductory music too?

In reply to by Ollie Killingback

Peter Adamson on 3 March 2013

New music

Yes! There will be new music as of episode 120, when I start philosophy in the Islamic world. It's a very nice clip, I hope people will like it. And actually from now on I plan to change a bit more often, I think this last clip hung around for too long, though I did like it a lot.


In reply to by Peter Adamson

Michael on 17 March 2013


Hi Peter,

Thanks for the great podcast!

As well as a big philosophy fan I'm a massive music fan, and was wondering if you could you provide us with a song listing?

Thanks, and keep up the good work!


Rhys W. Roark on 3 March 2013

Fate, Hope & Clarity: Boethius

Hey Peter,

Along with the nice episode as usual, I am taken with your posted illustration for the episode, with apparently Boethius, Philosophy and Fortune spinning her wheel.

When I Google "Boethius" or "Boethius Consolation . . ." it shows on some editions of the Consolation (mainly by Penguin, it appears), but I still can't find any info on it.

It appears as something either late Medieval (Gothic) or maybe early Renaissance. Possibly Northern European (i.e., non-Italian) Any further info on it?

At your convenience.


In reply to by Rhys W. Roark

Peter Adamson on 3 March 2013

Boethius picture

Hi, glad you like it! I got it off Wikipedia Commons (where I get most of the images since they are copyright free). Here's a link to that site which has more info on the picture but not much.

In reply to by Peter Adamson

Rhys W. Roark on 4 March 2013

Boethius picture

Thanks Peter.

Curious I didn't spot this in my Google search--but should've checked Wikimedia Commons. A great source for images.


Chris Van Allsburg on 2 September 2021

Reading While Cooking

How do you read Boethius while making mashed potatoes? 


In reply to by Chris Van Allsburg

Peter Adamson on 2 September 2021

Boethius and the noble spud

I don't remember exactly but I think it was while waiting for the potatoes to boil.

Jonathan Jonsson on 19 March 2022

A problem of properties

Dear Peter,

I find the reasoning at around 12:24 problematic. You come dangerously close to saying that goodness is only an accidental property of giraffes, and not an essential one. Perhaps this is just your Boethius showing (surely it can't be your considered view), but I find this borderline sacrilegious. I can accept goodness being an enabling, but not essential, property of simple beings like humans and potatoes, but could you really extend this to the noble giraffe?

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