Sunday, November 05, 2006

Boethius on Ill Fortune

Thoughts of ill fortune from the Consolation of Philosophy:
...Strange is the thing I am trying to express, and for this cause I can scarce find words to make clear my thought. For truly I believe that Ill Fortune is of more use to men than Good Fortune. For Good Fortune, when she wears the guise of happiness, and most seems to caress, is always lying; Ill Fortune is always truthful, since, in changing, she shows her inconstancy. The one deceives, the other teaches; the one enchains the minds of those who enjoy her favour by the semblance of delusive good, the other delivers them by the knowledge of the frail nature of happiness. Accordingly, thou mayst see the one fickle, shifting as the breeze, and ever self-deceived; the other sober-minded, alert, and wary, by reason of the very discipline of adversity. Finally, Good Fortune, by her allurements, draws men far from the true good; Ill Fortune ofttimes draws men back to true good with grappling-irons. Again, should it be esteemed a trifling boon, thinkest thou, that this cruel, this odious Fortune hath discovered to thee the hearts of thy faithful friends—that other hid from thee alike the faces of the true friends and of the false, but in departing she hath taken away her friends, and left thee thine? What price wouldst thou not have given for this service in the fullness of thy prosperity when thou seemedst to thyself fortunate? Cease, then, to seek the wealth thou hast lost, since in true friends thou hast found the most precious of all riches.'
Boethius's book, De Consolatione Philosophiæ, written in prison while he was awaiting execution, was the most popular philosophical book for a thousand years. "The Last of the Romans", Blessed Anicius Manlius Torquatus Severinus Boethius's feast day is October 23rd; his tomb is in the basilica of San Pietro in Ciel d'Oro, in Pavia, Italy. Although he was in loyal service to the Ostrogothic King Theodoric in Rome, shortly after the fall of the Western Roman Empire, he was executed for his Catholic Faith and was accused of plotting for the restoration of the Roman Republic.

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