BOETHIUS

ca. A.D. 480-524

Roman philosopher and statesman

Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius, the last of the great Roman philosophers, was an admirer of the ancient Greeks. He translated Plato, Aristotle, and other Greek philosophers into Latin, which helped preserve their writings. Boethius also paved the way for Scholasticism*, a way of thinking that combined classical*, Christian, and worldly knowledge into a single system of beliefs that gained popularity during the Middle Ages.

Descended from an old and prominent Roman family, Boethius entered public life at an early age. From 510 until his death in 524, he served as head minister to Theodoric, the Ostrogoth king who had conquered Italy. However, in about 522 Theodoric accused Boethius of treason, claiming that Boethius had plotted against him with Justinian I, the emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire. Falsely accused, Boethius was imprisoned, tortured, and executed without a trial.

Boethius wrote his most famous book, Consolation of Philosophy, while in prison. The book is a dialogue between the writer and the spirit of philosophy; it argues that the pursuit of knowledge and the love of God are the only true sources of happiness. During the Middle Ages, it became the most widely read book after the Bible.

In his lifetime, Boethius also produced important studies on logic, grammar, music, geometry, arithmetic, and astronomy. His writings on theology, the study of the nature of God and religious truth, had a profound influence on religious thought and teaching in the Middle Ages.

* Scholasticism medieval philosophy based on analytical thinking and the ideas of Aristotle

* classical relating to the civilization of ancient Greece and Rome

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