Year of Publication

2007

Degree Type

Dissertation

College

Arts and Sciences

Department

English

First Advisor

Walt Foreman

Abstract

While this analysis of the Old, Middle, and Early Modern English translations of De Consolatione Philosophiandamp;aelig; provides a brief reception history and an overview of the critical tradition surrounding each version, its focus is upon how these renderings present particular moments that offer the consolation of eternity, especially since such passages typify the work as a whole. For Boethius, confused and conflicting views on fame, fortune, happiness, good and evil, fate, free will, necessity, foreknowledge, and providence are only capable of clarity and resolution to the degree that one attains to knowledge of the divine mind and especially to knowledge like that of the divine mind, which alone possesses a perfectly eternal perspective. Thus, as it draws upon such fundamentally Boethian passages on the eternal Prime Mover, this study demonstrates how the translators have negotiated linguistic, literary, cultural, religious, and political expectations and forces as they have presented their own particular versions of the Boethian vision of eternity. Even though the text has been understood, accepted, and appropriated in such divergent ways over the centuries, the Boethian vision of eternity has held his Consolations arguments together and undergirded all of its most pivotal positions, without disturbing or compromising the philosophical, secular, academic, or religious approaches to the work, as readers from across the ideological, theological, doctrinal, and political spectra have appreciated and endorsed the nature and the implications of divine eternity. It is the consolation of eternity that has been cast so consistently and so faithfully into Old, Middle, and Early Modern English, regardless of form and irrespective of situation or background. For whether in prose and verse, all-prose, or all-verse, and whether by a Catholic, a Protestant, a king, a queen, an author, or a scholar, each translation has presented the texts central narrative: as Boethius the character is educated by the figure of Lady Philosophy, his eyes are turned away from the earth and into the heavens, moving him and his mind from confusion to clarity, from forgetfulness to remembrance, from reason to intelligence, and thus from time to eternity.

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