Consolation of Philosophy: Character Profiles
The Author, Boethius
The book is a dialogue between Boethius and Philosophy. Boethius presents himself as a first-person narrator in prison, put there by the government of the Italian king, Theodoric, awaiting execution for a crime he did not commit. Though only in his forties, he complains his hair has turned prematurely white, and he is emaciated with his grief. He is writing poems of sorrow about his misfortune when he is approached by the goddess, Philosophy, who speaks with him and brings him back to a state of health and memory of his true nature. She convinces him that no external misfortune can shake the philosopher who resides always in a state of divine wisdom.
Philosophy is a personified abstraction, depicted as a goddess who reminds Boethius that he has been a student of her philosophy, the divine wisdom. He should not be depressed now when he needs to remember his own nature and the nature of the good that rules the universe. Evil is not real; only Providence exists. There are no accidents. The philosopher can transcend all adversity and participate in the good.
Boethius describes Philosophy as an awe-inspiring divine being, eyes burning with supernatural intelligence. She is ancient yet young, sometimes looking human, and sometimes touching the sky. Her clothes are imperishable but at the same time dusty, showing neglect by humans. She holds books, but her garment is torn, because various men have tried to take a piece of her for their own. She becomes the physician to Boethius, curing his sickness or amnesia about the justice and goodness of God’s government that holds sway even over despots.