Consolation of Philosophy
expresses the by now traditional Platonic critique of poetry: poetry
is an inferior pursuit, even a dangerous pursuit. The Muses of
poetry are described by the goddess of philosophy as
"seducing mummers . . . with poisonous sweets." They
"stifle the fruit-bearing harvest of reason with the barren
briars of the passions."
philosophy is the highest, and only, truly legitimate pursuit.
Philosophers have always been at variance with the ways of men
and have always been attacked as a result. The chief aim of
philosophers is to oppose evil. The dejection of Boethius is due
to a limited human perspective; the consolation of philosophy is
achieved when one raises one's focus from the human to the
Divine perspective. Part of achieving Divine perspective is the
acceptance of the transience of temporal things and
circumstances: Fortune's wheel spins one to the top and to the
bottom. Therefore the most important thing is one's attitude:
nothing is inherently wretched unless made so in one's mind. In
this way Boethius recommends a spiritual stance which sounds
remarkably like the way of the Buddha between fear and desire.
Bearing good and bad fortune equally with calmness and
acceptance will bring one peace.
its nature, dulls the reason by exciting the passions of fear
and desire; therefore poetry is opposed to the aims of the
philosophy of Boethius.