Anicius Boethius Quotes


Philosophy Quotes by Anicius Boethius

Ancicius Manlius Severinus Boethius was a prominent Roman orator, poet, musician and philosopher in the 6th century. These quotes were taken from The Consolation of Philosophy which was written while Boethius was imprisoned on the false accusation of treason, from jealous adversaries.


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Boethius on Character & Virtue

Philosophy Quotes about Character & Virtue by Boethius

“Whoso calm, serene, sedate, Sets his foot on haughty fate; Firm and steadfast, come what will, Keeps his mien unconquered still; Him the rage of furious seas, Tossing high wild menaces, Nor the flames from smoky forges That Vesuvius disgorges, Nor the bolt that from the sky Smites the tower, can terrify. Why, then, shouldst thou feel affright At the tyrant’s weakling might? Dread him not, nor fear no harm, And thou shall his rage disarm; But who to hope or fear gives way– Lost his bosom’s rightful sway– He hath cast away his shield, Like a coward fled the field; He hath forged all unaware Fetters his own neck must bear!”

– Anicius Boethius, as quoted in The Consolation of Philosophy


“Thou knowest that what I say is the truth, and that I have never boasted of my good deeds in a spirit of self-praise. For whenever a man by proclaiming his good deeds receives the recompense of fame, he diminishes in a measure the secret reward of a good conscience.”

– Anicius Boethius, as quoted in The Consolation of Philosophy

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Boethius on Death

Philosophy Quotes about Death by Boethius

“Who wrought my studious numbers Smoothly once in happier days, Now perforce in tears and sadness Learn a mournful strain to raise. Lo, the Muses, grief-dishevelled, Guide my pen and voice my woe; Down their cheeks unfeigned the tear drops To my sad complainings flow! These alone in danger’s hour Faithful found, have dared attend On the footsteps of the exile To his lonely journey’s end. These that were the pride and pleasure Of my youth and high estate Still remain the only solace Of the old man’s mournful fate. Old? Ah yes; swift, ere I knew it, By these sorrows on me pressed Age hath come; lo, Grief hath bid me Wear the garb that fits her best. O’er my head untimely sprinkled These white hairs my woes proclaim, And the skin hangs loose and shrivelled On this sorrow-shrunken frame. Blest is death that intervenes not In the sweet, sweet years of peace, But unto the broken-hearted, When they call him, brings release! Yet Death passes by the wretched, Shuts his ear and slumbers deep; Will not heed the cry of anguish, Will not close the eyes that weep. For, while yet inconstant Fortune Poured her gifts and all was bright, Death’s dark hour had all but whelmed me In the gloom of endless night. Now, because misfortune’s shadow Hath o’erclouded that false face, Cruel Life still halts and lingers, Though I loathe his weary race. Friends, why did ye once so lightly Vaunt me happy among men? Surely he who so hath fallen Was not firmly founded then.”

– Anicius Boethius, as quoted in The Consolation of Philosophy

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Boethius on Society


“It may be thou knowest not of the banishment of Anaxagoras, of the poison draught of Socrates, nor of Zeno’s torturing, because these things happened in a distant country; yet mightest thou have learnt the fate of Arrius, of Seneca, of Soranus, whose stories are neither old nor unknown to fame. These men were brought to destruction for no other reason than that, settled as they were in my principles, their lives were a manifest contrast to the ways of the wicked.”

– Anicius Boethius, as quoted in The Consolation of Philosophy


“So it is not enough that my devotion to thee should profit me nothing, but thou also must be assailed by reason of the odium which I have incurred. Verily this is the very crown of my misfortunes, that men’s opinions for the most part look not to real merit, but to the event; and only recognize foresight where Fortune has crowned the issue with her approval. Whereby it comes to pass that reputation is the first of all things to abandon the unfortunate. I remember with chagrin how perverse is popular report, how various and discordant men’s judgments. This only will I say, that the most crushing of misfortune’s burdens is, that as soon as a charge is fastened upon the unhappy, they are believed to have deserved their sufferings. I, for my part, who have been banished from all life’s blessings, stripped of my honours, stained in repute, am punished for well-doing. ‘And now methinks I see the villainous dens of the wicked surging with joy and gladness, all the most recklessly unscrupulous threatening a new crop of lying informations, the good prostrate with terror at my danger, every ruffian incited by impunity to new daring and to success by the profits of audacity, the guiltless not only robbed of their peace of mind, but even of all means of defence. Wherefore I would fain cry out:

‘Virtue cowers in dark retreats, Crime’s foul stain the righteous beareth, Perjury and false deceits Hurt not him the wrong who dareth; But whene’er the wicked trust In ill strength to work their lust, Kings, whom nations’ awe declareth Mighty, grovel in the dust.”

– Anicius Boethius, as quoted in The Consolation of Philosophy


“So there is nothing thou shouldst wonder at, if on the seas of this life we are tossed by storm-blasts, seeing that we have made it our chiefest aim to refuse compliance with evil-doers. And though, maybe, the host of the wicked is many in number, yet is it contemptible, since it is under no leadership, but is hurried hither and thither at the blind driving of mad error. And if at times and seasons they set in array against us, and fall on in overwhelming strength, our leader draws off her forces into the citadel while they are busy plundering the useless baggage. But we from our vantage ground, safe from all this wild work, laugh to see them making prize of the most valueless of things, protected by a bulwark which aggressive folly may not aspire to reach.”

– Anicius Boethius, as quoted in The Consolation of Philosophy

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Boethius on Truth & Reason


“They tore in pieces the garment which I had woven with my own hands, and, clutching the torn pieces, went off, believing that the whole of me had passed into their possession.”

– Anicius Boethius, as quoted in The Consolation of Philosophy


‘Who,’ said she, ‘has allowed yon play-acting wantons to approach this sick man–these who, so far from giving medicine to heal his malady, even feed it with sweet poison? These it is who kill the rich crop of reason with the barren thorns of passion, who accustom men’s minds to disease, instead of setting them free. Now, were it some common man whom your allurements were seducing, as is usually your way, I should be less indignant. On such a one I should not have spent my pains for naught. But this is one nurtured in the Eleatic and Academic philosophies. Nay, get ye gone, ye sirens, whose sweetness lasteth not; leave him for my muses to tend and heal!’

– Anicius Boethius, as quoted in The Consolation of Philosophy


“There is no danger; these are the symptoms of lethargy, the usual sickness of deluded minds.”

– Anicius Boethius, as quoted in The Consolation of Philosophy

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Boethius on Wealth


“And that he may do so, let me now wipe his eyes that are clouded with a mist of mortal things.”

– Anicius Boethius, as quoted in The Consolation of Philosophy

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