The Prisoner’s Philosophy by Joel Relihan

The Prisoner's Philosophy: Life and Death in Boethius's CONSOLATIONThe Prisoner’s Philosophy: Life and Death in Boethius’s CONSOLATION by Joel C. Relihan

I assigned Joel Relihan’s translation of Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy this semester, so I wanted to read his interpretation of the classic. Consolation was written by a Christian scholar accused of treason against Theodoric, the Visigothic king of Italy, a few decades after the fall of the Western Roman Empire. His book, written in prison, is very influenced by Neoplatonism in the way that he talks about God, and never mentions Christ directly. The whole work is a conversation between Boethius and Philosophy, who comes to visit him in prison.

Relihan’s book was really helpful in pointing out a lot of subtleties of the work. He believes that it was a Christian work that uses the dialogue to lead from a consideration of Boethius’ predicament to a more Christian understanding, comparing it to the Book of Job. Since Relihan is a specialist in ancient Latin literature, some of the references and technicalities were over my head, but overall, it was a good book.

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