Metrum 1Boethius (hereinafter: B.), imprisoned and alone, bewails his condition. Meter: Elegiac couplets. The first line is dactylic hexameter ( - W - W - W - W - u u - - ), the second (called the pentameter) contains two hemiepes ( - W - W - - u u - u u -). In the hexameter caesura is regular after the first syllable of the third foot. No substitutions are allowed in the second hemiepes of the pentameter.
qui: "(I) who . . ." studio florente: ablative absolute; studium here, "eagerness, enthusiasm." peregi: < perago , "accomplish, complete."
lacerae: "tattered, bedraggled." scribenda: < scribo ; neuter plural accusative, gerundive of necessity: "things that must be written." Camenae: the native Latin name for the Muses.
elegi : "elegiac verses." ora: < os , oris : "mouth, face." Plural for singular is common in poetry.
Has : sc. Camenas . pervincere: "prevail upon," treated as a verb of hindering governing ne -clause in line 6 AG 558b.
comites : predicative, "as companions."
Gloria : in apposition with the subject of solantur (i.e., Camenae ). felicis : The final syllable is closed, and thus long, before the caesura.
maesti : modifies senis (genitive < senex ).
inopina : "unexpectedly"; adjectives in agreement with the subject often have adverbial force.
iussit : governs accusative/infinitive. suam : the reflexive takes its antecedent from the subject of the sentence, hence dolor .
intempestivi : "out of season," because B. is too young for cani (sc. capilli ), "grey hair."
maestis: sc. annis (line 13).
quam: exclamatory, to be taken closely with surda . . . aure . avertitur: here used in an active sense (comparable to the Greek middle voice: other Hellenisms will occur in B.): "[death] turns away [the wretches]."
saeva: with adverbial force: "cruelly."
Dum: In late Latin, dum with subjunctive is interchangeable with circumstantial cum . levibus . . . bonis: ablative, "with good things [that are] insubstantial." male: "scarcely, not at all," a common way of negating an adjective (here: fida ) in poetry.
merserat: pluperfect indicative (< mergo ) instead of perfect, for an unreal statement ( paene has the force of a negative); translate as simple past tense. Cf. LHS 328, Zusätze b, on the rhetorical pluperfect.
nubila: "cloudy, gloomy," modifies fortuna understood as the subject.
me felicem: sc. esse ; accusative/infinitive with iactastis (= iactavistis ). amici: vocative.
stabili . . . gradu: ablative of description. Stabilis appears often in the Consolatio, in emphatic positions, to hint at the alternative to the mutability of fortune's world (cf. e.g., 1M4.16, 2M8.1, 3M9.3).
Prosa 1A mysterious figure, female but more than human, appears at B.'s side and puts to flight the poetic muses.
stili officio: "with the help of a pen." astitisse: perfect infinitive (< a(d)sto ): the woman was already there when B. noticed her. verticem: < vertex , "topmost point," thus: "head." reverendi vultus: genitive of description. oculis ardentibus et . . . perspicacibus: ablative of description. communem: take with hominum, "common to men." quamvis: "although," with subjunctive. foret = esset ut . . . crederetur: subjunctive of result. statura discretionis ambiguae: "with stature of uncertain measure."
quidem . . . vero: "on the one hand . . . but on the other," a common usage in B. summi verticis cacumine: "with the very top of her head." quae: connecting relative, i.e., relative pronoun in place of demonstrative + et : "and she." extulisset: subjunctive of repeated action, with cum ("whenever"). intuitum: "gaze, view."
filis: ablative plural, "threads." uti = ut ("as"). post: adverb. eadem prodente: ablative absolute ( eadem = B.'s visitor). fumosas imagines: The reference seems to be to the wax masks of deceased ancestors which hung in the atrium of a Roman house and gathered soot from the hearth fire between funeral processions, when they were worn by mourners in a masquerade of reincarnation. solet: sc. obducere .
Π . . . Θ : for πρᾶχις (practice) and θεορία (theory). To the ancients "theory" (full contemplative understanding: what the woman now offers) both followed and surpassed "practice" (merely mechanical competence: concerns of the political domain in which B. was well-versed); thus π appears at the lower hem of the garment, θ at the neckline, with steps leading from the lower to the higher. Graecum: modifies π (taken as neuter). supremo: sc. margine . vero: always used post-positively in its clause; best translated "but." elementum: here, "letter [of the alphabet]." esset: subjunctive in relative clause of purpose.
manus: nominative plural.
scenicas: "of the stage," used pejoratively, as usual. foverent . . . alerent: subjunctive in relative clause of characteristic. foverent: "take care of." verum: the conjunction, "but."
infructuosis affectuum spinis: "with the sterile thorns of [that come from] the emotions." fructibus: ablative with uberem: "rich in fruit." assuefaciunt: "accustom" (transitive).
si quem: "if anyone"; the indefinite pronoun quis is commonly used after si , nisi , ne , or num . vulgo: adverb. solitum: sc. est . vobis: i.e., Camenis . ferendum: "to be borne, tolerated"; sc. esse mihi . nihil: adverbial accusative, "not at all." quippe: explanatory particle, "for, since." eo: antecedent is quem profanum . hunc vero . . . innutritum: ellipsis of main verb effectively expresses indignation. Eleaticis et Academicis studiis : the teachings of Parmenides of Elea (d. shortly after 450 B.C.), Plato (founder of the Academy at Athens; d. 347 B.C.) and their disciples.
Sirenes: in mythology, birds with the faces of beautiful girls singing sweetly to lure mariners to shore and death. usque in exitium dulces: "pleasant to the point of destruction." meisque . . . Musis: dative of agent with curandum and sanandum .
His . . . increpitus: "rebuked by these [words]." humi: locative. acies: "gaze, sight."
caligaret . . . possem: subjunctives in relative causal clauses (not quite parallel). dinoscere = dignoscere , "recognize, distinguish." esset: subjunctive in indirect question. visuque . . . defixo: ablative absolute. esset actura: imperfect subjunctive + future participle represents a future in an indirect question. conquesta: < conqueror , "bewail, lament bitterly."
Metrum 2The visitor compares B.'s present enervated state to his former energy and vision. Meter: Hemiepes ( - W - W - )+ adonic( - u u - -) with diaeresis. In 22 the final syllable of solitus is treated as long before the diaeresis (brevis in longo).
praecipiti: "steep, dangerous."
flatibus: ablative of means < flatus , "wind." aucta: < augeo ; modifies cura (line 5). in immensum: "to immense (size)."
Hic: i.e., Boethius.
in aetherios ire meatus: "to follow the courses of heavenly bodies."
recursus: accusative plural, "returns, recurrent courses"; with vagos , which alludes to the Greek word for the planets, "wanderers."
comprensam = comprehensam, "grasped, understood"; sc. stellam . B. translated a Greek treatise by Ptolemy on astronomy and perhaps wrote one of his own in Latin, in which he would have explained how the movements of the planets could be reduced to mathematical calculations.
unde . . . sollicitent: indirect question introduced by causas (13); similarly, quis volvat (15), cur . . . surgat (16-17), quid . . . temperet (18), and quis dedit (20).
quis = qui.
casurum: < cado , "fall, set."
dedit: indicative in place of subjunctive, to fit the meter (cf. Gruber).
ut . . . uvis: substantive result clause, after dedit . influat: "flow, abound with."
rimari solitus: sc. est ; governs indirect questions of lines 13-21. latentis: genitive, modifies naturae .
reddere: here, "declare, report."
pressus catenis colla: "pressed around the neck with chains." colla is neuter plural accusative of respect with the participle pressus ; this is a Greek construction.
Prosa 2:The visitor briefly diagnoses B.'s ailment and makes a first curative gesture.
medicinae . . . querelae: datives of purpose with tempus est . quam = magis quam .
totis . . . luminibus: i.e., with both eyes, undistractedly. Tune = tu + enclitic -ne (introducing a question). evaseras: < evado , here, "emerged, came to."
Atqui: "and yet." abiecisses: < abicio , "throw away, cast aside."
Cumque: "and when." prorsus: "absolutely." Nihil . . . pericli (= periculi ) : "no danger"; pericli is partitive genitive. lethargum: a disease of drowsiness and forgetfulness. illusarum: < inludo , "sport with, deceive."
Sui: "of himself," objective genitive with oblitus (< obliviscor , "forget, be unmindful"). Sui paulisper oblitus est: an ill for which the proper cure is a form of Platonic recollection (anamnesis), in line with the precept, "Know thyself." recordabitur: future indicative in apodosis of a future-less-vivid condition (the protasis has cognoverit , perfect subjunctive). This mixed condition is a very common construction in the Consolatio . quod ut possit: quod is the connecting relative (= et id ); supply recordari , or perhaps facere , to complement possit : "and so in order that he might [remember/do] this." tergamus: "let us cleanse," hortatory subjunctive.
undantes: "awash." contracta . . . veste: ablative of means.
Metrum 3Vision returns to B.'s eyes. Meter: Dactylic hexameter ( - W - W - W - W - u u - -) alternating with dactylic tetrameter ( - W - W - W - u u). The last foot of the tetrameter is always a dactyl; that is, alternate lines may end in a short syllable and the end of the line does not make position.
discussa . . . nocte: ablative absolute.
ut: "just as," introduces a simile that fills the rest of the metrum: "just as, when . . . (lines 3-6), if Boreas (lines 7-8). . . , [then] Phoebus flashes (lines 9-10)." glomerantur sidera: obscure; sidera may mean "bad weather," but some emend to nubila . Coro: < Corus , the north-west wind. polus: "the arch of heaven."
caelo: dative of place to which (a poetic usage). venientibus astris: ablative absolute.
hanc: sc. noctem . Threicio: "Thracian." Boreas: nominative, "the north wind."
reseret: < resero , "unbar, unlock."
ferit: < ferio , "strike, smite."
Prosa 3:B. recognizes Philosophia (hereinafter: P.); she explains why she has come.
haud aliter: "in no other way," i.e., "similarly"; suggests that the whole preceding metrum is a comparison to illustrate what now occurs. ad cognoscendam . . . faciem: "to recognize the face"; gerundive of purpose.
respicio: historical present. cuius: with laribus . laribus: < lares , "household gods" (by metonymy, "home"). obversatus: < obversor , "move about [in the presence of]." fueram: used with participle to create the pluperfect, as often in post-classical Latin.
supero cardine: "from the highest vault (of the sky)." delapsa: often used of the descent of a heavenly figure. an: sc. venisti ; introducing a further question. ut: introduces purpose clause to suggest why she may have come to B. rea: nominative; "(as) a defendant."
desererem . . . partirer: potential subjunctive, imperfect tense indicating past time. sarcinam: accusative singular, "burden." invidia: ablative of cause. sustulisti: < suffero , "undergo, bear."
relinquere: governed by fas erat , a common construction in B.; for the idea, cf. 1M1.6. scilicet: ironical: "so doubtless I should fear . . ." The idea is that P. is constantly a victim of such slanders.
primum: adverb, "for the first time." lacessitam: < lacesso , "strike." Nonne: introduces question expecting affirmative answer ( Nonne . . . certavimus : "didn't we struggle . . .?"). Platonis aetatem: Plato lived c. 429-347 B.C. eodem superstite: ablative absolute, "[although] the same [Plato] survived." Socrates: d. 399 B.C.
Epicureum . . . Stoicum: adjectives modifying vulgus ("rabble"). Stoicism and Epicureanism arose about a century after Socrates' lifetime. raptum ire: supine of purpose, "to [make a movement to] snatch." renitentem: "resisting, struggling." velut in partem praedae: "as if to be part of their booty." panniculis: "scraps of cloth." totam me: literally, "all of me," hence with cessisse , "I had yielded totally." abiere = abierunt , < abeo .
rata: < reor ("think"), modifies imprudentia (subject of pervertit ) and governs the indirect statement meos esse familiares . pervertit: "ruined, destroyed."
Quodsi: "But if"; common in B. Anaxagorae: genitive < Anaxagoras , an Ionian philosopher and friend of Pericles; he left Athens c. 432 B.C. (or c. 450?) after a charge of impiety was raised against him. Zenonis tormenta: The steadfastness under torture of Zeno of Elea (born c. 490 B.C., disciple of Parmenides; cf. 1P1.10) was proverbial, but different versions of the story gave different names for the torturer. novisti: < nosco , "learn." The perfect means "to know" (i.e., "to have learned"). at: "yet, on the other hand." Canios: Canius was killed by the emperor Gaius (= Caligula, who reigned 37-41 A.D.); see 1.P4.27 for an anecdote on his fate. The plurals are used only to generalize the fate of philosophers. Senecas: L. Annaeus Seneca ("the younger", d. 65 A.D.), once tutor to Nero, later driven to suicide by his pupil. Soranos: Soranus, like Canius and Seneca, was a Stoic philosopher (it is only the Stoicum vulgus for which P. has just indicated a distaste); like Seneca, he was driven to suicide by Nero after false accusations.
ammirere = admireris (subjunctive in characterizing relative clause). salo: < salum , "the high sea." quibus: "(we) to whom." pessimis displicere: in apposition with hoc .
spernendus: "to be despised." lymphante: < lympho , "madden"; modifies errore .
Qui: sc. exercitus . si quando: "if ever," followed by perfect subjunctive incubuerit (< incumbo , "throw oneself upon, oppress"). valentior: modifies the subject, with virtually adverbial force. dux: here feminine (modified by nostra ); perhaps Philosophy herself is meant, perhaps Sapientia (with an echo of a similar scene in Prudentius's allegorical battle of virtues and vices, the Psychomachia [lines 875ff]). This army at least has a dux , while the other has none ( nullo duce regitur ). illi: sc. pessimi . diripiendas: gerundive for gerund, as usual; with sarcinulas (diminutive < sarcina , "pack"). occupantur: "are occupied, are busy."
vilissima rerum quaeque: "every thing of least value" (with comparative and superlative adjectives, quisque means "every"). The phrase is the object of rapientes ("[those] snatching"), a participle which is itself the object of irridemus . securi: nominative, "free from care"; agrees with nos and governs the genitive phrase totius furiosi tumultus . quo: "whither." grassanti: < grassor , "prowl, attack." sit: subjunctive, characteristic relative clause.
Metrum 4B.'s goal is indicated by a portrait of the truly wise man, serenely above all the hopes and fears of worldly life. Meter: Phalaecean hendecasyllable - - - u u - x - u - - (which is composed of glyconic - - - u u - u - + bacchiac u - - ). Word end often occurs after the sixth syllable, but there are exceptions. The second-to-last position of the glyconic is anceps, not short as it is in ordinary glyconics (as in M6 for example). The first two positions (Aeolic base) are always long, as is typical from the Augustan age onwards.
composito aevo: "of a settled age" (ablative of description). serenus: cf. 3M9.26, where God is called serenity itself.
fatum sub pedibus egit: cf. 3M12.1-2; compare Vergil's famous lines: felix qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas atque metus omnis et inexorabile fatum subiecit pedibus . . . (Georgics 2.490-492) ["Happy the man who can understand the causes of things and trample under foot all his fears, and fate deaf to prayer as well."] pedibus: final syllable closed (hence long) before word end.
fortunam . . . utramque: both good fortune and bad. rectus: "upright, erect," unlike B., whose head is bowed to gaze upon the ground.
versum: "turned over" (< verto ), with the adverb funditus ("from the bottom, completely"). exagitantis: modifies ponti . The line contains 12 syllables, with two short syllables in the seventh position.
Vesaevus: i.e., Mt. Vesuvius.
soliti: modifies fulminis (line 10) and takes a complementary infinitive ( ferire ).
via: subject of movebit ; via fulminis , "path of the lightning," i.e., "lightning bolt."
tantum: adverbial, "so much."
Nec speres . . . nec extimescas: subjunctive of the negative command. Stronger punctuation (a colon) would be possible at the end of this line.
exarmaveris: future perfect, "you will have disarmed." impotentis: genitive, "not master of himself."
quod: "because." sui . . . iuris: predicative genitive, "[subject to] his own law," i.e., "his own master." valeat: valeo in late Latin is almost interchangeable in meaning and syntax with possum .
Prosa 4:B. gathers his strength for a long outburst against the injustice of his condition, recounting the principal events of his public career.
illabuntur: "make their way into," with dative. ὄνος λύρας : "the ass [hearing] the lyre," a proverbial expression for a person obtuse to higher things; the phrase was the title of a now lost Menippean satire of Varro (d. 27 B.C.), whose genre B. employs in the Consolatio . manas: < mano , "flow, drip." Ἐξαύδα μὴ κεῦθε νόῳ : "Speak out, do not hide [it] in your mind." Iliad 1.363, spoken by Thetis, mother of Achilles, who has just asked him why he is weeping. oportet . . . detegas: "it is necessary that you uncover."
collecto in vires animo: ablative absolute, "when I had gathered my mind for strength," i.e., "my mind's strength." Anne: introducing question: "really?" eget: "lack, need," governing the ablative ( ammonitione ).
Haecine = Haece + ne . Hice, haece, hoce is an emphatic form of hic, haec, hoc. laribus: see on 1P3.2. de humanarum . . . scientia: Cicero, De Officiis 2.5: "Sapientia . . . est, ut a veteribus philosophis definitum est, rerum divinarum et humanarum . . . scientia": "Wisdom, as it was defined by the ancient philosophers, is knowledge of the affairs of gods and men."
habitus: "manner of dress." rimarer: cf. 1M2.22. radio: < radius , a mathematician's instrument for measuring and drawing. referimus: < refero , here, "bring back." obsequentes: < obsequor , "comply with, yield to."
sententiam Platonis: Plato, Republic 5.473D, and elsewhere. fore = futuras esse . rectores: accusative subject of studere . studere . . . contigisset: contingo ("come about") can take accusative/infinitive in late Latin.
capessendae rei publicae: "for entering upon public life." ne . . . ferrent: purpose clause explaining causam in the preceding clause. relicta: participle modifying the nominative gubernacula and governing preceding datives.
quod . . . didiceram (< disco, "learn"): object of transferre .
Tu . . . et deus conscii: sc. sunt . nullum (sc. studium ) . . . detulisse: accusative/infinitive, governed by conscii [ sunt ] treated as a verb of knowing.
Inde: "from this," i.e., studium . discordiae: sc. erant . quod: in apposition with the phrase, "pro tuendo . . . offensio." conscientiae: "conscience" (a new meaning in late Latin). pro tuendo iure: "for guarding the law" ( tuendo is gerundive in place of gerund). spreta: < sperno , "reject, scorn." potentiorum: comparative < potens , "powerful [person]."
Conigastum: a Goth, holding a public office of the highest rank. Though Goths and Romans coexisted peaceably in the Ostrogothic kingdom, there was some friction. No Goths appear in a good light in the Consolatio , for B. had given up currying favor by this time. imbecilli cuiusque: "of every weak [man]." Trigguillam: a Goth, in charge of the royal household and thereby able to exercise influence over many spheres of activity. regiae . . . domus: genitive with praepositum . ab incepta . . . iniuria: i.e., ab incepta iniuria, ab iniuria iam prorsus perpetrata . obiecta periculis auctoritate: ablative absolute, "by exposing my influence to danger."
fortunas . . . pessumdari: accusative/infinitive governed by indolui (< indolesco , "grieve").
indicta coemptio: coemptio was a compulsory sale of produce to the state (at a price below market rate), imposed ( indicta ) on a province in time of special need. profligatura: "about to ruin." inopia: ablative of means. The date of this particular episode is not known; it is natural but not necessary to assume it happened while B. served as magister officiorum . Campania was the site of the country estates of many wealthy senators. praefectum praetorii: originally colonel-in-chief of the praetorian guard, later something like prime minister; he handled all but strictly military affairs, especially matters of taxation and expenditure. He would have been a wealthy (native Roman) senator like Boethius. rege cognoscente: ablative absolute, "when the king was hearing the case." ne . . . exigeretur: result clause after evici ( ne often replaces ut non in later Latin).
Paulinum: consul in 498 (hence a consularis , "of consular rank"), who later opposed B.'s father-in-law in a lawsuit. The episode alluded to here is otherwise unknown. Palatinae: "of the palace." iam . . . devorassent: past potential subjunctive: "had all but devoured [but didn't]." hiantium: < hio : "gape, yawn" (adjective used as a substantive).
Albinum: consul in 493, whose troubles with the regime were the beginning of B.'s downfall. Cypriani: a Roman unusually close to the Gothic regime, one of few known to have served in a military capacity and to have had his sons learn Gothic. delatoris: "informer, denouncer" (< defero , deferre ÄÄ cf. deferentibus three lines below).
B. thinks his refusal to ingratiate himself with corrupt courtiers should have won him friends away from court, but his accusers were members of his own senatorial class. qui: i.e., Boethius. aulicos: "people of the aula," i.e., courtiers. quo magis essem tutior: The antecedent of quo is nihil ; "nothing by which I might be safer" (note redundant double comparative). deferentibus: See on delatoris (sec. 14). perculsi: < percello , "overthrow, ruin."
Quorum: sc. delatorum . Basilius: a senator, but not of the highest rank. alieni aeris: literally, "another's money," hence in the Latin of all periods, "debt."
Opilionem atque Gaudentium . . . ire in exilium: accusative/infinitive, object of decrevisset . Opilio was brother of Cyprianus and son-in- law of Basilius. He and his brother remained fiercely loyal to whatever Gothic regime held power, and prospered after B.'s death. Gaudentius was another minor senatorial figure. sacrarum . . . aedium: genitive with defensione ; the expression is classical, but clearly a Christian church is implied. The etiquette of late Latin style encouraged writers like B. to avoid neologisms like ecclesia . compertumque . . . foret: "and when the king found out about it"; foret = esset . uti . . . pellerentur: indirect command, and hence subjunctive, after edixit . notas insigniti frontibus: "marked on their foreheads with brands" (an old Roman punishment).
astrui: passive infinitive < astruo , "build on, add" (< ad + struo ). Atquin = atqui . deferentibus eisdem: ablative absolute.
praemissa damnatio: "prearranged condemnation"; the idea is that B. has been framed and the accusers play only a secondary role. puduit: < the impersonal verb pudet , "put x [accusative of person] to shame for y [genitive of cause of shame]"; vilitas: it is better to read vilitatis (cf. Gruber ad loc.) as a genitive of the cause of shame with puduit , to parallel innocentiae .
Construe: At quaeres summam criminis cuius arguimur? criminis: < crimen , means either "crime" (here) or "accusation" (sec. 22 infra).
ne . . . deferret: clause of hindering with impedisse . quibus . . . faceret: relative clause of purpose. maiestatis reum: "guilty of treason."
volui: sc. senatum salvum esse .
Sed . . . cessavit: "But the attempt to hinder the delator has ended [in failure]." illius ordinis: i.e., of the Senate. suis . . . decretis: otherwise unrecorded senate resolutions supporting the king against B. uti . . . esset: clause of result after effecerat .
sibi semper mentiens: "always lying to itself"; ( mentiens < mentior , "lie"). rerum merita: "the merits of the case, the facts of the matter"; merita is accusative plural. fas . . . mendacium: almost a translation of Socrates' words in Plato's Theaetetus 151D.
quoquo modo sit: indirect question after aestimandum ("to be evaluated"). tuo sapientiumque iudicio: "by your judgment and [that] of wise [people generally]." latere: here takes direct object, posteros : "to escape the attention of posterity." stilo . . . mandavi: could be taken to mean that B. had earlier written a fuller, more detailed statement in his own defense.
falso: "falsely." libertatem . . . Romanam: an old label habitually and meaninglessly used by Roman senators to describe any regime or policy that seemed preferable to the status quo, to which they continued to give supine acquiescence. quid attinet: "what does it accomplish?"
quod: antecedent is ipsorum confessione delatorum uti . uti: infinitive < utor (+ ablative). utinam posset: the imperfect subjunctive shows the wish is incapable of fulfilment. Canii . . . Gaio Caesare: cf. 1P3.9. Germanicus was the father of Caligula. se: antecedent is Gaio .
hebetavit: "dulled, blunted." scelerata: "criminal deeds"; accusative. molitos: sc. esse . effecisse: the subject is impios , while the object is the relative clause quae speraverint (subjunctive in relative clause in indirect discourse).
deteriora velle: "to want [to do] worse things." fuerit: hortatory subjunctive to express concession: "[Suppose/grant] it was." nostri . . . defectus: "a mark of our [common human] weakness," genitive of characteristic. posse: sc. deteriora ; "[but] to be able [to do worse things]"; the phrase is the subject of est . inspectante deo: ablative absolute. monstri: genitive with simile ; monstrum is literally a portentous event contrary to nature.
iniuria: ablative (with adverbial force, "unjustly"). quidam: The source of the quotation is doubtful, but may be a fifth century (A.D.) commentary by Proclus on the Parmenides of Plato.
fas fuerit: "[Granted] it was right"; governing accusative/infinitive; this sentence establishes a concession to which the following sentence ("Sed num . . . ?") responds. perditum ire: "to aim at destroying," supine of purpose (cf. note on 1P3.7); with voluisse , the force is almost the same as perdere .
num: interrogative particle expecting a negative answer. me dicturum quid facturumve: "me [when I was] about to say or do anything." Veronae: locative; the Ostrogothic kings held court at several cities in northern Italy, principally Verona, Pavia, and Ravenna. avidus: "greedy for" + genitive. Albinum: see on 1P4.14. delatae: transferred epithet, i.e., applies more precisely to crimen than to maiestatis . quanta . . . defenderim: indirect question governed by meministi . securitate: stronger than English 'security'; here, "heedlessness, confident disregard."
haec: the contents of this prosa. et . . . et: "both . . . and," connecting proferre and iactasse . mei: objective genitive with laude : "praise of myself." minuit: intransitive, "grows smaller." se: object of probantis . secretum: "separateness, autonomy," with an overtone of integrity. quis: indefinite, "someone, anyone." factum: accusative object of ostentando .
subimus: < subeo , here "undergo."
Eccuius: < ecquis , "any," always interrogative. summitteret: here, "placate, soften."
iugulare: literally, "to slit the throat." bonis omnibus: dative of reference; here, as often, it can be translated almost like a genitive. struxisse: < struo , "prepare, contrive." praesentem: sc. me . sententia: abstract subject of punisset . quingentis . . . milibus: ablative, to express distance, with procul , adverb, "at a distance [of]." The location of B.'s imprisonment is not certain, but was probably in or near Ticinum (mod. Pavia), about 20 m. south of Milan. Distance must be calculated by tracing the standard Roman roads through the Apennines, not by air mileage or modern highways, and by using the Roman mile (approx. 95 yards shorter than the English). propensius: comparative of < propensus , "well-disposed"; here, "too well-disposed"; modifies studium . morti: this is the only explicit indication in the Consolatio that B. foresaw his own imminent death. meritos: sc. senatores (accusative of exclamation). The senate no longer deserves another such protector. neminem posse convinci: accusative/infinitive governed by meritos .
dignitatem reatus: a conscious oxymoron; reatus ("status as defendant in a criminal case") is genitive, modified by the connecting relative cuius. quam: sc. dignitatem . fuscarent: "blacken, stain." ob ambitum dignitatis: "for the sake of achieving [by questionable means] public office." sacrilegio: cf. 41 below. B.'s arcane scientific and philosophical studies may have been the pretext of a charge of black magic (two senators had been tried and executed on a similar charge in 510, while B. was serving as consul). me conscientiam polluisse: accusative/infinitive after mentiti sunt .
insita: "innate" (< insero ), nominative singular feminine, agreeing with tu . ἕπου θεοῷ : "follow God," a common philosophic slogan, here attributed to Pythagoras (fl. c. 525 B.C.).
conveniebat: "was it appropriate" with accusative/infinitive. vilissimorum . . . spirituum: i.e., demons, believed by Christian antiquity to be the agents of magic and witchcraft. quem: antecedent is me. ut . . . faceres: purpose clause.
penetral: "inner chamber, sanctuary"; nominative singular neuter. socer: "father-in-law," i.e., Symmachus, consul in 485, a learned Roman grandee, not often in public office but influential nonetheless. (See Introduction .) aeque ac tu ipsa reverendus: "just as worthy of deep respect as you yourself."
illi: B.'s accusers. maleficio: literally "evil-doing," often used specifically of magic and witchcraft (cf. sacrilegio : sec. 37). hoc ipso: correlative with quod, "for this reason . . . because." nihil: adverbial, "not at all."
tuam . . . reverentiam: B.'s devotion to P.; tuam here = tui (objective genitive). mea . . . offensione: mea here = mei (objective genitive); "by the injury directed against me." lacereris: present subjunctive in mixed condition.
accedit: "is added to" with dative. rerum merita: See on 1P4.24. tantum: "only." provisa: providence is prominent in Books 4-5; here it is first glimpsed in a mistaken notion held by the doubtful populace. quo fit ut: "whereby it happens that" (common expression in B.). prima: has adverbial force.
Qui . . . rumores, quam . . . sententiae: sc. fuerint ; indirect questions governed by reminisci . hoc tantum dixerim: "I would say only this." hoc is in apposition with the indirect statement sarcinam esse .
exutus: "stripped" (< exuo ), with ablative
officinas: "workshops, factories," with a sneer. B.'s vision includes: the guilty rejoicing, others threatening new accusations, the good laid low by fear, the criminal egged on to dare and to accomplish evil by the prospect of reward, the innocent bereft of confidence and protection. novis fraudibus: instrumental ablative. impunitate: "without [fear of] punishment."
Metrum 5If the world at large is so harmoniously governed, B. complains (lines 1- 24), why are human affairs alone the toy and sport of arbitrary Fortune (lines 25-48)? Meter: Anapestic dimeter ( u u - u u - u u - u u -), with diaeresis between the metra. As usual, the short syllables may be contracted or the long ones resolved (except the last), so the actual schema is W M W M W M W -. But Boethius does not mix contractions and resolutions in the same metron, nor does he have more than three fully contracted feet in a line. Another way to express this would be that dactyls may replace anapests except that there are no dactyls in the last foot and dactyls and anapests may not appear in the same metron. A spondee may appear in any foot, but there may be no more than three spondees in a line.
conditor: in later Latin usually "creator."
perpetuo . . . solio: "an enduring throne." nixus: < nitor , "rest upon."
ut: governs through line 12. pleno . . . cornu: a way of saying that the moon is full. lucida: modifies luna (line 7).
fratris: i.e., Phoebus (the sun); final syllable closed before diaeresis. obvia: "opposite" (with dative), modifies luna (line 7).
Phoebo propior: "closer to Phoebus" i.e., as day nears.
Hesperos (evening star) and Lucifer (morning star) are the names given to whatever planet (usually Venus or Jupiter) shines brightest at dawn and at dusk. B.'s point in these lines is that the same planet can be evening star now, and morning star a few weeks from now.
algentes . . . ortus: "chilly risings." Hesperos: Greek nominative form, "[as] the evening star." Lucifer: "[as] the morning star."
Winter and summer. frondifluae: "leaf-flowing"; a word not otherwise attested in surviving Latin authors, perhaps coined (on Greek models) by Boethius himself.
agiles: since in ancient time-reckoning there were twelve hours of daylight and twelve hours of darkness every day, in every season, then in summer the night hours would seem unusually swift. nocti: dative of reference (with force of a genitive: see on 1P4.36).
Fall and spring.
Zephyrus: "the west wind."
Arcturus: "Bear-watcher" (hence the aptness of vidit ), prominent in the evening sky in early spring.
Sirius: the "dog-star"; it rises just before dawn in the hottest part of summer, whence we speak of the "dog days." segetes: < seges , "cornfield."
stationis: "post," a military term.
respuis: "you refuse," takes complementary infinitive ( cohibere ).
debita: nominative singular, modifies poena and takes a dative.
crimen iniqui: a monometer (one metron).
ipsis: sc. nocentibus .
gaudet: The subject is effectively fortuna (29), but a better reading (cf. Gruber) is gaudent ; subject is then drawn from ipsis (37).
homines: in apposition with pars . fortunae salo: this second metron consists of a spondee plus a cretic ( - - - u -).
quo: the antecedent is foedere (48).
firma: imperative < firmo .
Prosa 5:P. reacts to B.'s complaint calmly and indicates his illness is so serious that his cure will require two kinds of remedy.
delatravi: "barked." nihil: adverbial. ilico: "instantly."
Take id with exsilium ; longinquum is predicate nominative.
quam procul a patria: almost an exclamation. aberrasti = aberravisti , "strayed." id: antecedent vague; must be drawn from whole preceding clause.
oriundo: gerund < orior , "arise, originate"; here therefore, "by origin." Not to be confused with the classical adjective, oriundus . cuius . . . patriae: predicate genitive in an indirect question. reminiscare = reminiscaris . uti Atheniensium quondam: sc. patria , subject of regitur . εἷς κοίρανός ἐστιν, εἷς βασιλεύς : Iliad 2.204: "There is one lord, one king." laetetur: characteristic subjunctive. iustitiae: dative after obtemperare .
sanctum est: < sancio , "ordain, decree." ei . . . exsulare （< ex(s)ulo , "live as an exile") : "for him [ quisquis . . . maluerit ] to live as an exile." qui = ei qui , where ei is dative with nullus metus est. ne . . . mereatur: clause of fearing. desierit: < desino , "cease."
loci huius: sc. facies . N.B. tam . . . quam , then potius . . . quam in separate clauses. id: followed by a relative clause ( quod . . . facit ） and a phrase in apposition ( librorum . . . sententias ).
obiectorum （< obicio ) tibi: "things that have been charged against you," i.e., "the charges you face."
nota: object of memorasti . strictim: "superficially, cursorily"; adverb with gerundive attingendum [sc. esse ]. ea: i.e., scelera fraudesque . recognoscentis . . . ore: "on the lips of the common people, who find out about everything."
conquestusque: the participle governs the accusative/infinitive non aequa praemia pensari . in extremo Musae saevientis: "at the end of your raging Muse," i.e., in the last lines of 1M5. uti . . . regeret: substantive purpose clause, defining his vota ; "that the peace which rules heaven may rule earth as well."
mentis: genitive of reference [LHS 74ff]; translate, "in your present state of mind."
Metrum 6Success attends those who adapt their actions to the pattern of nature. (Thus, we deduce, it makes sense for P. to proceed cautiously with milder remedies at the outset.) Meter: Glyconic. ( - - - u u - u - ) As is expected, the Aeolic base in Boethius' glyconics (first two syllables) is always - - .
Cancri sidus: Cancer is burned by the sun's rays from 20 June to 20 July.
negantibus sulcis: i.e., at that season the furrows refuse to nurture seeds planted too late. credidit: < credo , here "entrust."
Cereris: objective genitive, "the faith placed in Ceres"; Ceres was the goddess of harvest and grain.
quernas . . . arbores: "oak trees"; acorns were traditionally the food of prehistoric times, when agricultural arts were unknown; the phrase "nuts and berries" has the same force in English.
lecturus: < lego , "gather"; the future participle has some of the force of a purpose construction, here "to pick."
cum . . . inhorruit: indicative temporal clause; Aquilo (the north wind) blows in winter.
quaeras: subjunctive in a future-less-vivid condition (cf. libeat ), governing stringere ("prune, trim").
frui: "to enjoy" with ablative.
Bacchus: god of wine, hence of the grape-harvest. contulit: perfect tense < confero .
aptans: sc. tempora from line 16.
vices: "alternations"; here, "seasons."
quod = id quod .
Prosa 6:P. questions B. closely to determine the exact nature of his philosophic ailment and to plan the course of her own argument for the rest of the dialogue. Note the sequence of questions and answers: 1. Q. Is the world governed by chance or reason? A. By the rational power of God (secs. 3-4). [Boethius is correct, and this is maximum tuae fomitem salutis (sec. 20).] 2. Q. By what instruments is the world governed? A. B. barely understands the question, cannot answer (secs. 7-8). 3. Q. What is the goal or purpose of all things? A. B. has heard the answer but forgotten it (sec. 10). 4. Q. What is a human being? A. Rationale animal atque mortale (sec. 15). [This is an answer, but an unsatisfactory one. B. does not in fact know what he himself is. Specifically, he has forgotten the immortality of the soul.] P. summarizes B.'s answers in secs. 18-19, then plots her cure in 20-21.
paterisne: future, "will you allow?" pauculis: diminutives and superlatives are so common in later Latin that they lose much of their force. attingere: "touch," a verb used elsewhere of a physician feeling for a pulse. qui modus sit: indirect question.
ut responsurum: sc. me , "as one who will answer." rogato: future imperative < rogo .
Huncine: see on 1P4.3. ei: dative.
ut . . . moveantur: indirect statement; see 1P4.17. certa: nominative plural neuter. verum: "but." operi suo: dative with the compound verb praesidere ("to preside over"). fuerit: future perfect, "nor will there ever have been a day." depellat: subjunctive of characteristic.
paulo ante: "a little earlier [in this work]," cf. 1M5.25f; used often to refer to earlier parts of the dialogue. cecinisti: < cano , "sing." tantum: adverb, "only." ceteris: sc. rebus , i.e., other than homines . quin . . . regerentur: quin introduces the subjunctive after a negative with a verb of doubting, which is the force here of nihil movebare , but the subject of regerentur is supplied from ceteris . Translate, "You are not at all troubled about the others, but that they should be ruled by reason," i.e., you have no trouble believing that non-human affairs are ruled by reason. movebare = movebaris .
Papae: exclamation of surprise or wonder. aegrotes: "be ill." nescio quid: "something"; literally, "I know not what." coniecto: first person singular, "infer, guess."
deo: dative of reference (with a passive verb, indicating agent).
gubernaculis: "rudders," often metaphorical. sententiam: here, "meaning." nedum: "much less."
fefellit: < fallo , "deceive," but in the impersonal as here, "I am mistaken, I am deceived." hianti （< hio , "gape, yawn") valli robore: ablative absolute; for the idea, cf. 1P3.13-14.
quove: "or whither?"
novi: "I know"; see on 1P3.9.
qui: adv., "how." principio cognito: ablative absolute.
valentia: "strength." quidem . . . autem: "on one hand . . . on the other." sibique totum exstirpare: "to uproot [him] entirely from himself."
Quidni: "why not?" Hocine: "Is it this?" an . . . sciam: "whether I know"; indirect question. rationale animal atque mortale: a commonplace philosophical definition in late antiquity; e.g., Epictetus, 2.9.2; Augustine, De Ordine 2.11.31, etc.
vel maximam: "the very greatest." quid. . . nosse desisti: cf. 1P2.6, sui paulisper oblitus est ; oblivione tui (sec. 18 here). nosse = novisse < nosco .
Note three quoniam sentences, each corresponding to one of the ill-answered questions above.
nequam: indeclinable adjective, "wicked." potentes felicesque: predicative, sc. esse . non . . . modo, verum . . . quoque: "not only, but also." causae: sc. sunt . grates: feminine plural nominative, "thanks," sc. sint , with dative, auctori .
fomitem: < fomes , literally, "tinder, kindling," in a world where fire meant light: enlightenment is P.'s gift. veram . . . sententiam: i.e., sec. 4 above. eam: antecedent is gubernationem . iam: "soon." illuxerit: < illucesco , "blaze."
veras: sc. opiniones . ex quibus: i.e., opinionibus . hanc: sc. caliginem . fomentis: "poultices." dimotis . . . tenebris: ablative absolute.
Metrum 7P. recapitulates the first book's imagery (clouds fly away to restore the light) and doctrine (cf. 1M4.13ff: banish hope and fear). Meter: Adonic with diaeresis after the dactyl in most lines. - u u | - -
Auster: south wind.
dudum: "a short time before."
par: adjective, "like, similar to," with dative.
visibus: "sight, vision," dative after obstat , "impedes."
resistit: "stops still."
"With the barrier ( obice ) of a rock ( saxi ) loosed ( soluti ) from a cliff ( rupe )."
fugato: future imperative < fugo, -are , "put to flight."
vincta: < vincio , "bind."