In this highly praised new translation of Boethius s "The
Consolation of Philosophy," David R. Slavitt presents a graceful,
accessible, and modern version for both longtime admirers of one of
the great masterpieces of philosophical literature and those
encountering it for the first time. Slavitt preserves the
distinction between the alternating verse and prose sections in the
Latin original, allowing us to appreciate the Menippian parallels
between the discourses of literary and logical inquiry. His prose
translations are lively and colloquial, conveying the
argumentative, occasionally bantering tone of the original, while
his verse translations restore the beauty and power of Boethius s
poetry. The result is a major contribution to the art of
Those less familiar with "Consolation" may remember it was
written under a death sentence. Boethius (c. 480 524), an Imperial
official under Theodoric, Ostrogoth ruler of Rome, found himself,
in a time of political paranoia, denounced, arrested, and then
executed two years later without a trial. Composed while its author
was imprisoned, cut off from family and friends, it remains one of
Western literature s most eloquent meditations on the transitory
nature of earthly belongings, and the superiority of things of the
mind. In an artful combination of verse and prose, Slavitt captures
the energy and passion of the original. And in an introduction
intended for the general reader, Seth Lerer places Boethius s life
and achievement in context.
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