Consolation of Philosophy: Top Ten Quotes

 “So sinks the mind in deep despair/ And sight grows dim; when storms of life/ Inflate the weight of earthly care” (I. ii. , p. 5)Philosophy visits Boethius in prison and sings a poem to him about his sad state of mind, due to his misfortunes.

“I have never been moved from justice to injustice by anything” (I, iv, p. 10).Boethius tells Philosophy he does not deserve to be thrown in prison on false charges. As a public official he always strove to uphold justice.

“Why else does slippery Fortune change/ So much, and punishment more fit/ For crime oppress the innocent?” (I, v, p. 16).Boethius complains that Fortune is unfair and punishes the innocent in the world, while the wicked get by with their crimes.

“Now I know . . . the major cause of your illness: you have forgotten your true nature” (I, vi, p. 20).Philosophy tells Boethius he has a spiritual sickness. He has forgotten his own divine nature and relationship with the good. This has led to his doubt and suffering in prison, feeling he has been abandoned by God.

“Inconsistency is my very essence; it is the game I never cease to play as I turn my wheel in its ever changing circle, filled with joy as I bring the top to the bottom and the bottom to the top” (II, ii, p. 25).Philosophy speaks with the voice of Fortune to teach Boethius that change is the very nature of Fortune. She is a fickle goddess who likes to play with people, one minute exalting them, and the next, throwing them down on her ever turning wheel.

“….nothing is miserable except when you think it so, and vice versa, all luck is good luck to the man who bears it with equanimity” (II, iv, p. 31).Philosophy tries to teach Boethius that it is not the external event that causes misery. The human mind is above fate and can create its own reality, its own luck, with the right perception, using reason.

“The day will come that takes your fame as well,/ And there a second death awaits for you” (II, vii, p. 44).Philosophy warns Boethius that there is no point in trying to get fame as a sort of immortality for oneself. Worldly fame does not last, and once it fades, it is like another death.

“The friend that success brings you becomes your foe in time of misfortune. And there is no evil more able to do you injury than a friend turned foe” (III, v, p. 57).Philosophy tells Boethius that when one becomes a success, everyone acts like a friend, but you can tell a real friend when the chips are down. Those who were friends of the moment will turn on you.

“The result is that you cannot think of anyone as human whom you see transformed by wickedness” (IV, iii, p. 94).Philosophy claims that humans are naturally good, and if they become evil, they cease to be human because they are out of their own nature. Evil people are thus sub-human. This is part of her argument that evil does not really exist in itself; it is a lack of goodness, or life, or health.

“If God imposes order upon all things, there is no opportunity for random events” (V, i, p. 116).Philosophy teaches that because God is the goodness that creates the order and harmony of the universe, there is nothing that happens by chance or accident.