Infomotions, Inc.The consolation of philosophy. In the translation of I. T. ;edited and introduced by William Anderson. -- / Boethius, d. 524

Author: Boethius, d. 524
Title: The consolation of philosophy. In the translation of I. T. ;edited and introduced by William Anderson. --
Publisher: Arundel Centaur Press 1963
Tag(s): philosophy and religion; happiness; boethius; bee; wherefore; philosophy; consolation; verse
Contributor(s): Eric Lease Morgan (Infomotions, Inc.)
Versions: original; local mirror; HTML (this file); printable; PDF
Services: find in a library; evaluate using concordance
Rights: GNU General Public License
Size: 27,672 words (really short) Grade range: 11-13 (high school) Readability score: 60 (average)
Identifier: consolationphilos00boetuoft
Delicious Bookmark this on Delicious

Discover what books you consider "great". Take the Great Books Survey.

the Centre f'or 



bYH.R. Secor 


The Consolation of Philosophy 

The Consolation of Philosophy 



In the translation of ].T. 
Edited and introduced by 




This edition first published in 1963 by the 
Centaur Press Ltd., Fontwell, Arundel, and II-14 
Stanhope Mews |Vest, London, S.W.7 
Printed in Great Britain by 
Clarke, Doble & Brendon Ltd. 
Cattedown, Plymouth 




His Influence and some of his Translators 

The Consolation o[ Philosophy has nearly always been highly regarded in England. Two 
monarchs, Alfred the Great and Elizabeth I, translated it and Geoffrey Chaucer not only 
translated it but found for his own works some of his deepest inspiration within its pages. 
Dr. Johnson commended it highly, and even Gibbon who in fact found much of its mat- 
ter unsympathetic, was forced to call it 'a golden volume not unworthy of the leisure of 
Plato or Tully, but which claims incomparable merit from the barbarism of the times and 
the situation of the author.' The translation by the anonymous I.T. which is reprinted in 
this volume, has--although we have no sure name to put to its author, let alone a royal 
or great one--many merits for the modern reader; it is comprehensible, its literary quali- 
ties are high, its renderings of the poems are in some cases sublime and, best of all, it is 
executed with a deep understanding of that consolation which Boethius, having once 
discovered, wished to bestow upon future generations. Thus men in all troubled times have 
often turned towards The Consolation of Philosophy, remembering that Boethius was 
himself under sentence of death while he wrote it, and restoring their own flagging 
spirits with a perusal of his magnificent words. 
Boethius himself did not live in easy times. He was born in about 4130, Anicius/klan- 
lius Severinus Boethius, a member of the rich and illustrious Anician family of Rome. 
The rule of the last Emperor of the West had ended in 476 and Italy was ruled by Odo- 
acer, a barbarian chieftain. Boethius' father served under Odoacer but died, leaving his 
son an orphan. He was then brought up under the care of the distinguished senator, 
Symmachus, who later became his father-in-law. By that time it had become unusual for 
a Roman to know Greek, but Boethius acquired a full knowledge of the language and 
spent his youth in studying the works of Plato and Aristotle and their commentators. His 
studies extended to astronomy, music, mathematics and theology and he was also a prac- 
tical mechanic. The influence of many of these studies can be seen in The Consolation 
of Philosophy and the importance of the book pardy lies in the fact that it acted as a 
compendium of classical thought in the dark ages when most of the originals upon which 
Boethius had drawn were lost to the knowledge of the West. 
Boethius in fact seems consciously to have set himself the task of preserving the clas- 
sical tradition in the West. Part of this task was the translation of the complete works of 

Plato and Aristotle into Latin. Hc never completed this vast project, though what hc did 
manage to translate had an immense effect on the Middle Ages. Hc translated and wrote 
two commentaries on Porphyry's Isagoge or Introduction to the Categories, which he con- 
sidered the best introduction to the study of Aristode. These commentaries are of great 
importance, for in them occur the passages which aroused the great disputes over the ques- 
tion of Universals in the Middle Ages. He also translated the whole of Aristode's Organon 
or group of wor'ks on logic and wrote commentaries on the Categories and the de In- 
terpretatione which form part of the Organon. 
If his energies had been directed to these alone his influence and fame would have been 
assured, but he also laid down most of the basis of what was to become the lIediaeval 
educational curriculum, the seven liberal arts of the Triviurn and the Quadrivium. The 
Triviurn covered grammar, rhetoric and logic. He provided the text books for logic by his 
translations and commentaries. The Qttadrivittrn dealt with arithmetic, music, geometry 
and astronomy. His treatise on astronomy which is mentioned by Cassiodorus, his contem- 
porary and colleague in government, has not sur'ived, but his writings on the other sub- 
jects became standard works. Boethius was regarded by his contemporaries as a paragon, 
not surprisingly, for his knowledge was so encyclopaedic that it extended to the most prac- 
tical affairs of everyday life. When King Theodoric wanted him to construct a waterclock 
and a sundial to send to King Gundobad of the Burgundians, Cassiodorus wrote to him 
with the request saying : 'In your translations Pythagoras the musician, Ptolemy the as- 
tronomer, Nicomachus the arithmetician, Euclid the geometer, are read by Italians; Plato 
the theologian and Aristotle the logician dispute in the Roman tongue and you have given 
Archimedes the mechanician in Latin to the Sicilians.' 
Such abilities as Boethius possessed must have been rare in the Italy of his time and the 
Ostrogothic king, Theodoric, who ruled at this time must have been glad to obtain his 
services. This monarch had been born somewhere near the Platten See in Hungary in 454. 
When he was seven he was sent to the court of Constantinople as a hostage. During this 
stay, although he never learned to read, he gained a deep appreciation of the power of 
Roman law. In about 471 he returned to his people and soon after became their king. He 
readily established his authority by his prowess as a soldier and leader and was able to per- 
suade his people that they should change their mode of life from a roving semi-nomadic 
existence to settled ways and permanent habitations. The Emperor Zeno gladly gave his 
permission when Theodoric decided to leave the lands of the Eastern Empire and to make 
Italy the home of his people. 
In the autumn of 488, accompanied by what has been computed as 200,000 followers, 
he started on his journey westwards. By the summer of the next year he had brought them 
safely to Italy, an extraordinary proof of his powers as a leader. At the time of the arrival 
the government of Italy was in the hands of Odoacer, the barbarian chieftain who had 
driven out the last Emperor of the West thirteen years before. For three-and-a-half years 
Theodoric and Odoacer opposed one another with Theodoric gaining the upper hand. 
Then in 493 they agreed to a treaty whereby they should rule Italy jointly and live in 

Ravenna on terms of joint equality. Theodoric murdered Odoacer at the banquet which 
he held to celebrate the new friendship. 
The murder of Odoacer is an important due to Theodoric's later treatment of Boeth- 
ius. Theodoric genuinely admired the benefits of Roman civilization but he was deeply 
rooted in the traditions of his people. Though he was to rule Italy wisely and with great 
benefit, this barbaric streak of utter mistrust and sudden destructiveness was to strike 
down both Boethius and his father-in-law Symmachns. 
Theodoric was king over the Goths, but over the Romans in Italy he exercised what 
might be called a vice-royalty from the Emperor of the East. He kept the Roman adminis- 
tration as he found it and appointed one oI the two consuls. Although like all the Goths 
he was an Arian in religion, he practised complete tolerance in matters of faith and his 
judgement became so respected that he was once asked to arbitrate between two rival 
claimants for the Papacy. He had the buildings of ancient Rome restored from their ruin- 
ous state and encouraged agriculture and industry. In foreign policy his influence was 
devoted to the keeping of peace and to the making of dynastic marriages. He in fact 
brought Italy a peace she had not known for many years, and the author of the frag- 
ment which is known as the Anonyrnus Valesii records : 'Throughout the whole of Italy 
Theodoric made no walls for any city, and what gates there were in the cities were 
never closed. And anyone who had business to transact did it at any hour of the night 
as securely as by day.' 
Theodoric welcomed the assistance of talented Romans in his task of governing, and 
Boethius must have been drawn to the public life not only by Plato's desire that philos- 
ophers should be rulers but also by admiration of the probity and impartiality of 
Theodoric's rule. Boethius was made a consul for 5 l0 and twelve years later he had the 
great joy of seeing his two sons, Boethius and Ssq-nmachus, made joint consuls, a re- 
markable sign of the goodwill shon to him not only by Theodoric, but also by the Eastern 
Emperor who had the right of one of the two consular nominations. Boethius was prob- 
ably made Master of the Offices in 522; this was one of the chief ministerial posts with 
duties extending over a wide field of administration. He must have exercised his powers 
with litde care for popularity, for many enemies rose against him. Some of these struggles 
against injustice and corruption he enumerates in The Consolation o[ Philosophy. He had 
only been in office about a year when the ex-consul Albinus was accused of complicity 
in the sending of treasonable letters to the Emperor Justin at Constantinople. Boethius 
came forward to defend Albinus, and Cyprian who had brought the charge then extended 
it to include him. Theodoric who was now nearly seventy became highly suspicious of 
his Roman subjects. The Schism between the Eastern and Western Churches had re- 
cendy been ended and he may have feared that the Catholics in Italy would turn for 
protection to the Eastern Empire, now it was no longer heretical. Three men, Basilius, 
Opilio and Gaudentius came forward to support the charge against Boethius and he was 
thrown into prison at Ticenum, the modern Pavia. It was while he was imprisoned there 
that he wrote The Consolation o[ Philosophy. The Senate at Theodoric's bidding voted 

the confiscation of his property and his death. Gibbon describes the execution of the sen- 
tence thus: 'Suspense, the worst of evils, was at length determined by the ministers of death 
who executed, and perhaps exceeded, the inhuman mandate of Theodoric. A strong cord 
was fastened round the head of Boethius and forcibly tightened, till his eyes almost started 
from their sockets; and some mercy may be discovered in the milder torture of beating 
him with clubs till he expired.' 
Before his death Boethius had derived comfort from the thought that his father-in- 
law, Symmachus, was safe. However, Theodoric had the aged Symmachns brought from 
Rome to Ravenna and there executed. Theodoric, having executed on insufficient evi- 
dence two faithful subjects, began to be troubled by guilt. One day in 526 a large fish 
was brought to him at table, and, according to Procopius, he thought he saw in it the 
angry visage of Symmachus threatening to devour him. Overcome with fear and re- 
morse he retired to bed where he confessed to his doctor his guilt in the murders of Boe- 
thius and Symmachus and died some days later. 
Boethius came to be regarded as a martyr for the Catholic faith although the reasons 
for his death were almost certainly political. He became known as St. Severinus, and in 
1883 Pope Leo XIII sanctioned his cult for the diocese of Pavia. 
Whether Boethius was a devoted Christian or not no one has been able to decide. How- 
ever he was a member of a family, the Anician clan, which had been Christian since the 
days of Constantine. His four theological tractates which were once mistakenly thought 
not by his hand were probably written quite early in his career. Doubts have been cast 
on the sincerity of his belief since at his last extremity he turned to the pagan learning on 
which his life of study had been based. To Boethius the questions that he dealt with in the 
'Consolation' were of Philosophy, not of revealed religion, and he put down his thoughts 
according to his accustomed way. But whether he was a professed Christian or not seems 
almost beside the point when one realizes the heights to which he was able to ascend. 
The great beauty of his last work is that it soars to a region far beyond the squabbles of 
sects and intellectual animosities. 
Few men of any faith or religion have had the moral strength to take advantage of so 
sudden an overthrow. It must be realized that he was only a little beyond forty when he 
was put to death in A.D. 524. The mortification he must have felt at seeing the vanity of 
his early dreams that all would be well if philosophers learned to rule must have been 
extreme. He was sent to prison miles away from his beloved library and had to depend on 
his memory in writing. He must always have feared that whatever he wrote would be 
destroyed before it could leave the prison walls. However, in spite of all these obstacles 
he pressed on with his task, questioning the 'lady of his mind' for answers to the final 
and universal questions concerning the vicissitudes of fortune, the rewards of good and 
evil deeds and God's foreknowledge. 
While reading Boethius' words we have the sense of a great storm shadow rearing over 
most of Europe and the classical world. Theodoric had tried to subdue his innate barbar- 
ism and had failed; fiercer invaders and lesser men would come to whom Rome, her peace 

and her majesty, would mean practically nothing. Already while Boethius was alive, 
Benedict of lursia was organising the first of his monasteries which were to preserve the 
ancient learning from the barbarians. Boethius, though, belonged to an older tradition, 
one where a man could live a normal unsheltered life, rear a family, take part in politics 
and afgai and yet at the same time cultivate his higher aspirations. It is partly be- 
cause his life symbolized an ideal normality, when men did not have to become celi- 
bates, monks and hermits if they wanted to study and to reform their lives, that he 
became such a symbol to later generations. Boethius wrote quickly under the shadow 
of death and his words were to become the sepulchre lamp over the grave of the an- 
tique world. 
The number of manuscripts of The Consolation o[ Philosophy which sure'ire is large 
and this points to its popularity. This popularity was also due to the remarkable 'consol- 
ing' qualities which it possesses. When the work is seen from the angle of what it can 
do for men, its psychology seems even more remarkable than its philosophy. Boethius is 
seen lamenting his fate in prison. He tries to console himself with the muses--well called 
'tragical harlots' in I.T.'s translation--which is another way of saying that he surren- 
dered himself to self-pity and abnegated his intellectual strength. Suddenly a majestic 
vision of Philosophy appears to him to drive away the muses and comfort him. If one 
looks closely at the passage many interesting things appear (I.T.'s translation) : 
'methought I sawe a woman stand higher than my head, having grave countenance, glis- 
tering cleare eyes, and of quicker sight than commonly Nature doth afford; her colour 
fresh and chearefull, and yet discovering so many years that she could not at all be thought 
to have lived in our times; her stature uncertaine and doubtfull, for sometime she ex- 
ceeded not the common height of men, and sometime she seemed to touch the heavens 
with her head, and if she lifted it up to the highest, she pearced the very heavens so that 
she could not be seene by the beholders; her garments were made of most fine threads 
with cunning workmanship and of an ever-during stuff', which (as I knew afterward by 
her owne report) she had woven with her own hands. A certain duskishness caused by negli- 
gence and time had darkened their colour, as it is wont to happen when pictures stand in 
a smoky room. In the lower part of them was placed the Greek letter , and in the upper 
0, and betwixt the two letters, in the manner of stairs, there were certain degrees made, 
by which there was a passage from the lower to the higher letter: this her garment 
had been cut away by the violence of some who had taken away such peeces as they 
could get. In her right hand she had certain books, and in her left hand she held a 
So finely drawn a portrait as this could not fail to inspire artists of many kinds; Philos- 
ophy as Boethius depicted her appears in the carving of several cathedrals and at the 
opening of manuscripts. The Greek letters stand for theoretild and pralctilci, the speculat- 
ive and active forms of philosophy. The two letters, we are told, are connected by stairs 
or a scale which recalls the idea of the chain of being. Her garments are woven by her- 
self, that is her truths can come only from herself; and by an exquisite extension of the 



metaphor, those schools which have possessed but a part of the truth and yet have believed 
themselves fully informed are shown as having cut away her clothes and carried off pieces. 
Her stature which is able to range between the macrocosm and the microcosm and be- 
tween the stars and man, her imperial sceptre and her books, mark her as a universal figure. 
She is in fact a representation of the universe, or rather is the embodiment of the univer- 
sal unchanging laws which men dress in their own symbols to suit their time and fashion. 
Boethius had not cultivated her in vain in the years of study and affluence. As she gently 
reminds him, 'Philosophy never thought it lawful to forsake the innocent in his trouble.' 
Boethius, 'having lost the beauty of his mind', needs gentle restorative treatment and this 
she begins to apply to him. Philosophy's intent is to make him remember not only all she 
ever taught him in the days of prosperity but also all his intuitive knowledge of where 
his real nature came from. She weans him from his self-pity by gradually bringing back 
his sense of scale, by making him compare his own sufferings with the background of the 
universe through a delightfully Socratic method of chiding, questioning and explaining. 
Just as Philosophy is gentle with Boethius, so he is gentle with his reader. The work is all 
the easier to comprehend from its division into five books, each of which contains passages 
of prose alternating with poems. 
In the first book Philosophy lets Boethius pour out all his grievances about his unjust 
imprisonment. This points one of the main questions of the work: how can there be a 
moral order in the universe when the wicked prosper and the innocent suffer? In the 
second book Philosophy shows Boethius the folly of letting one's happiness depend upon 
the gifts of fortune; she runs through the various illusory joys which fortune bestows and 
stresses how short a time even the greatest fame can survive after death and how the 
second death ('the stinting of the renowne of fame' as Chaucer calls it in a gloss on Boe- 
thius) carries the noblest deeds into oblivion. She then shows him a way to a happiness 
beyond the vicissitudes of fortune ending with a poem on the unification of love. 

How happy mortalls were 
If that pure love did guide their minds, which 
heav'nly Spheares doth guide. 

In the third book Philosophy helps Boethius remember what the true source of happiness 
is; this book includes in its ninth poem a resum6 of Plato's Tirnaeus. Then, having re- 
suscitated his sense of scale in the fourth book, she has brought him to the point where 
he can understand his agonising question of why the wicked prosper. With that question 
dealt with, Boethius in the last book is fit to receive the greatest teaching of the whole 
work, Philosophy's speeches on the foreknowledge of God and its relation to human free- 
will. The first poem of the fourth book has already taken Boethius on a mental journey 
to the very origin of his life. The theme of memory restored, which binds the work to- 
gether, reaches here a transformation. Boethius' mind is offered Philosophy's swift and 
nimble wings to make a journey beyond the stars : 


Unto this seat when thou art brought, 
Thy country which thou didst forget 
Thou then wilt challenge to thyself, 
Saying : 'This is the glorious land 
Where I was born, and in this soil 
My feet for evermore shall stand.' 


His blessedness is fixed in his mind and from this standpoint he can continue to receive 
the teaching on time which Philosophy recites to him. By restoring the fullness of his 
memory Philosophy has altered Boethius' understanding of time, a necessary psychological 
change before he can make good use of what she has to say about God. It is at this stage 
that we find the famous definition of eternity as 'a perfect possession altogether of an end- 
less life.' 
In spite of its many debts to earlier writers, especially Plato, the Consolation is a highly 
original work. Any one who comes to it for the first time after reading Dante or Chaucer 
for example, will be delighted to discover the origin of so many favourite passages. The 
very form of the work, the division into prose and verse passages, was to have many 
imitations. A remarkable thing about the work is that there was a demand for it among 
those who could not read the Latin and who needed a translation. 
Three hundred years after Boethius' death his work was being translated into Anglo- 
Saxon by Alfred the Great with the help of his friend Asser. This version which was prob- 
ably executed by the famous King of Wessex towards the end of his life contains many 
interpolations of Alfred's own. In the next century we find lNotker Labeo (c. 950-c. 1022), 
a monk of St. Gall, translating the Consolation into Old High German. It was also adap- 
ted by a Provencal poet of the tenth century. We find Jean de Meung, the French poet 
who completed the Roman de la Rose left unfinished by Guillaume de Lorris, trans- 
lating it in the latter part of the thirteenth century and only slightly later it had probably 
its most fruiful influence in its effect on Dante. 
Dante tells us in his Con vito that when he had been made desolate by the loss of Bea- 

trice he turned to Boethius for consolation. In 
non conosciuto libro" (that book not known 
derstood by many.' He must have studied The 
attention, for when he came to Tite his first 

a curious phrase he calls it 'quello di molti 
of many) but perhaps he meant 'not un- 
Consolation o[ Philosophy with the greatest 
extended work, La I'ita Nuova, he copied 

the form of alternate prose and verse which Boethius had used. lklore than that, he 
adopted something of the same psychological method, for La I'ita Nuova is not only a 
record of the short life and death of Beatrice; it also tells the story of Dante's progress in 
the understanding of Love. At first he believes his blessing resides in the greeting given him 
by Beatrice, and when this is denied him because of an evil report which has reached 
Beatrice, he falls into self-pity and writes verses of complaint as Boethius did when he was 
cast into prison. He is rebuked for this by a group of ladies who attend Beatrice, just as 
Boethius was rebuked by Philosophy for complaining. At this point he enters the second 

stage of his love which is the praise of Beatrice. Beatrice then dies and the third and last 
stage begins. In his misery hc tries to console himself with the lady of the window whom 
in the Convito hc identifies as Philosophy; for a time hc confuses this pursuit with Beatrice, 
who may bc said to stand for revealed gTaCC, but she appears to him in a vision whose 
power is so gTcat hc returns his affection to her. In the last sonnet "Oltre la spera che piu 
larga gz'ra,' hc seems to show the influence of Bocthius most, for if one compares it with 
the first poem of the fourth book of The Consolation o I Philosophy one can recognize in 
it the same journey of return to a place beyond the stars. In Bocthius' case hc is given 
wings to fly there by Philosophy. Dante tells of a sigh which is the new intelligence given 
by weeping love which aspires to go where Beatrice is. When it returns to earth hc can only 
understand the marvels it describes by recalling the name of Beatrice. 
The comparison of Bocthius and Dante shows many similarities between them; both 
were not only poets but philosophers. Both united a dccp interest in theology with the 
kccncst desire to probe into natural science. Both became prominent politicians and both 
suffered unjust punishments for their selfless prosecution of good causes. Bocthius was 
imprisoned and executed; Dante had to live in poverty and exile with a sentence of death 
by burning held against him should hc cvcr dare return to his beloved Florence. Perhaps 
the most valuable gift which Dante received from his gTcat Italian predecessor was his un- 
derstanding of the moral order diffused throughout the universe, that love of the stars 
which sparkle in the final lines of each of the three parts of the Divina Commeda, and 
that glimpse of eternity he was given while he gazed on the white rose of the highest heaven 
and St. Bernard sang his canticle in praise of the Virgin Mother. On the long journey 
from Hell to Heaven Boethius is often near Dante's thoughts. When in the fifth canto 
of the Inferno, Paolo and Francesca da Rimini are seen together, the famous words are 
spoken : "Nessun maggior dolore 
Che ricordarsi del tempo lelice 
Nella miseria ;" 
Francesca is quoting from Boethius. A little further on, amongst the avaricious and the 
prodigal, the picture of Fortune is drawn directly from the same source. Thus it is not 
surprising that when Dante passes into Heaven in the tenth canto of the Paradiso he 
should see Boethius himself : 
"Or, se tu l'occhio della mente trani 
diluce in luce, retro alle mie lode, 
gia dell" ottava con sere rimani. 
Per vedere ogni ben dentro vi gode 
l'anima santa, che il mondo [allace 
[a mani[esta a chi ti lei ben ode. 
Lo corpo ond" ella ]u cacciata giace 
giuso in Cieldauro, ed essa da rnartiro 
e da esilio venne a questa pace." 

'Now if you draw the eye of your mind from light to light as my praises point out, you 
will already thirst for the eighth. The sainted soul which makes the illusory woHd dear 
to those who listen well, rejoices in seeing every good within. The body from which it 
was driven lies below in Cieldauro while the soul itself came from exile and martyrdom 
into this peace.' 
-That tribute alone is enough to show how much Dante himself realised he owed to 
In England the tradition which King Alfred had established remained strong for cen- 
turies. Not many years aher Dante's death, Geoffrey Chaucer must have come across The 
Consolation o[ Philosophy for the first time and it remained a strong influence on him for 
the rest of his life. With the help of Jean de Meung's French version he translated it into 
English, putting the poems into fine vigorous prose. Anyone reading it will be well re- 
warded not only for the light it throws on Chaucer's original work, especially Troilus and 
Criseyde, but also because he will there discover the first rhythms of English prose which 
developed into the language used in the Authorised Version. 
Another translation of the Consolation was made by John Walton, an Augustinian 
canon of Oseney in 1410. He reversed Chaucer's method by turning it entirely into verse. 
There were several translations into English in the sixteenth century, of which the most in- 
teresting for many reasons is that by Queen Elizabeth. She is said to have embarked on 
this task to console herself when she heard the news that Henry of Navarre had embraced 
the Roman Catholic religion. Her translation was made at extraordinary speed--accord- 
ing to one report at the rate of one page in every half-hour. 
Now we come to the translation which is reprinted in this volume. It appeared in 1609 
with a dedication to 'the Most vertuous Lady, the Countesse of Dorset Dowager'. She was 
the widow of Thomas Sackville who was part-author of Gorboduc. Who the translator, 
I.T., was, no one is entirely certain. He may have been John Thorpe (ft. 1570-1610) who 
was architect to Thomas Sackville, Earl of Dorset. Another name is that of John Thorie, 
a Fleming who was born in London in 1568. He was a B.A. of Christ Church, Oxford 
in 1586 and Anthony ?a Wood says of him that 'he was a person well skilled in certain 
tongues, and a noted poet of his times.' All his known translations are, however, from the 
Spanish. Another suggestion ks that I.T. was a Jesuit called Michael Walpole who for 
obvious reasons could not pass anything through the press under his own name and so 
used the initials I.T. 
Whoever he was, I.T. must have been a master of several arts. The poems are translated 
with vigour and great metrical invention. The reader is constantly delighted with astonish- 
ingly apt renderings in the prose passages; and the standard of the translation is very high. 
It has indeed that freshness which comes from deep understanding so that Boethius' 
original words are made to live again in all the strength of Jacobean English; and if the 
merits of the Latin are sometimes lost they are fully made up for by the splendours of an- 
other tongue in its greatest period. 
This edition has been taken from the copy of I.T.'s translation of Boethius in the British 

Muscurn. It was printed in London by John Winder for Mathcw Lowncs in 1509. In 
preparing this edition I have kept the introduction, all the dedicatory pocrns nnd the notes 
except for sornc which rncrcly repeat the argument without explaining it. Although the 
original title-page speaks of 'rnarginall notes', they have not bccn printed hcrc in that 
rnanncr. From sornc of the notes one can deduce that the translator was not entirely in 
sympathy with the Platonism of the original. I have inserted notes translating the Greek 
phrases where they occur nd have followed Fr. Adrian Fortcscuc's edition of the original 
(Burns Oatcs & Washbournc : 1925) in the Greek quotations. Where the spelling is con- 
ccrncd I have only rnodcrniscd in cases where the meaning would bc rnadc difficult by 
the retention of old forms. For instance I have changed 'least' to 'lest', 'then' to 'than' 
and 'rayncs' to 'reins'. I have also deleted a great many commas. I.T. called his author 
Boctius sornctirncs; there is ancient sanction for this spelling. 

vertuous lady the 
Countesse oi Dorseb 

HiS excellent Booke, pro,'ing though shortly, yet surely, the vanitie of all other 
goods; the veritie of man s onely good to consist in solely setling his soule on God 
the soveraigne, yea sole Good; having proved profitable to all almost neighbour 
Nations, as turned into their tongues; I presume to present unto our Countrie also for 
our common good. Now for that it is a common use, in communicating to all a private 
Invention or Translation, to appropriate the protection thereof to some one particular 
Person : in the designing of that Person, unto me none occurs more proper than your ver- 
tuous self e, not so much for my private obligations unto you (which yet be manifold, I 
must needes publikely acknowledge) as for a peculiar interest (as I may say) it seems you 
have unto this booke. The Booke (I say) so much esteemed by your late most worthy 
Lord and Husband, as had his leisure beene answerable to his learning and will, it had 
beene enobled by a more noble Translatour. This Booke (I say) which though perhaps as 
Philosophicall for the speculative points, may be above your understanding, yet as truely 
Theological for the practicall partes, the principall ende of such speculations, it is I am per- 
suaded according, and under your will. And yet also (Madame, for I had rather you should 
wisely feare, then I foolishly flatter) Iooke into it as in a glasse, not so much to see ff most 
parts be much, as if any bee lesse beautifull. Weigh if in all things and at all times, you 
have truely preferred the veritie of goodness of God, afore the vanitie of vice of the world : 
if you have, continue therein, so much more carefully, as remaines for you a lesse time of this 
combersome carefulnesse. If you have not, bee carefull now in your last times at the least in 
the principall points to begin your journey with such alacritie, as with much speed to make 
perhaps a long way in a short time. This is the greatest good I, your poore Client, can wish 
you, this is the powerfullest patronage and highest commendation you can procure to this 
Booke; that your selfe doe vertuously no lesse effect in will and worke, than your late 
loved Lord did affect it in word and understanding. With the which wish to the richest 
service my povertie can reach unto, 
I remaine. 
Your most meane but not least 
devoted servant 


'r is an old saying, and not so old as true, vino vendibili non est opus haedera: I would 
it were as true, that the best thinges are alway most esteemed, then I would not doubt 
but that this golden booke of Boethius would be in great request; for I cannot imagine, 
what fault any man can find with it, that is delighted with Vertue. The subject of this 
Discourse is true Felicitie, the way to it, and the removing of all impediments. All this is 
explaned by Rhetoricall & Philosophicall discourses. And least anything should bee want- 
ing, the Poetical Muses are not excluded; Thus are all dispositions satisfied, and profite 
ioined with delight. Wherefore well we may say of this worthy Authour: Ornne tulit 
puncturn qui rniscuit utile dulci. And yet this I will adde more; that the noble, learned 
and pyous wits and minds, will take most benefite and pleasure in Boethius. The reason 
is, for that sirnilis sirnili gaudet; Who more noble than Anitius Manlius Torquatus Sever- 
inus since fewe of that family deserved not to be Consuls. And they were worthy of the 
golden chayne, since their Champion wonne it in the field. Titus Manlius I meane, who 
tooke it from his French Challenger's necke, and put it about his owne, whereby he pur- 
chased to himselfe and his posteritie, the syrname of Torquatus. And by another no lesse 
admirable act of justice, came to bee called Severinus, not sparing his owne conquer- 
ing sonne, because he gave the battell against his father's command. What should I speak 
of our Boethius his learning? Let these his five Bookes give sufficient testimonie thereof. 
Or if this will not suffice, peruse who list his other monuments, fraught with varietie of 
all Sciences, both humane and divine. His pietie appeareth in his whole life : but most of 
all at hi death : hee both wrote and dyed for defence of Christ and hi faith against Ar- 
rians and other hereticks. Finally he was truely Boethius, that is, an helper and reliever of 
all innocent and distressed people. And lest his Benefite should live no longer then him- 
selfe, he committed it to gwiting, and sendeth it to thee, in this his noble, learned, and 
pyous worke. Which that our Countrey may the better enjoy, is now, (as thou seest) both 
in English verse and prose. Which how hard it was to effect, thou mayest guesse in part : 
since our prince of Poets, Chaucer turned it only into prose. Which will be a sufficient 
motive to take this labour in good part; and to beare with such faults as cannot easily 
be amended. Though thus much also I doe assure thee, that it gill be more pleasing to 
the Translatour, to see his labour rather amended then commended. 

As likewise hee will take it more in 
patience, to have it carped 
at, than corrupted. 
Vale & fruere. 


N thee (Boetius) that true rule appeares, 
That wise men gaine most fame by suffering paines. 
Of all the actions of thy prosperous yeeres 
To after-times small memorie remaines : 
But when the cloudes of sorrow strove t'obscure 
Thy vertue's light, then it did clearer shine. 
Calamity makes studious minds more pure, 
Their glorie groweth, as their states decline. 
Thou couldst not in thy joys have pleas'd us so, 
As with this worke, which to thy griefe we owe. 

To the friendly Reader 
rtaa" need my lines to recommend these leaves, 
So frequently by learned hands perus'd, 
As that I feare they'll seeme to be abus'd, 
Since customarie praise suspicion weaves. 
For I mistrust a gorgeous Frontispiece, 
Of mercenary penns. If thou doest so, 
And art unlearn'd, to better counsell goe. 
I, thou, nor any can thinke that amisse. 
And lettered though thou bee'st, here mayst thou find, 
What other volumes have not, for thy good : 
Some passages explained of that kind 
And are, at first, not easily understood. 
Friend, let with thankes our Author be rewarded, 
Who gaines, nor fame, but thy good hath regarded. 


Verse I 
II'herein Boetius bewaileth his estate 

I THAT with youthfull heate did verses write, 
Must now my woes in doleful tunes endite. 
My worke is frarn'd by Muses tome and rude, 
And my sad cheeks are with true teares bedew'd 
For these alone no terrour could affray, 
From being partners of my weary way. 
My happy and delightful age's glory, 
Is my sole comfort, being old and sory. 
Old age through griefe makes unexpected hast, 
And sorrow in my yeares her signes hath plac't. 
Untimely hoary haires cover my head, 
And my loose skin quakes on my flesh halle dead. 
O happy death, that spareth sweetest yeares, 
And comes in sorrow often call'd with teares. 
Alas how deafe is he to wretches' cries; 
And loth he is to close up weeping eyes; 
While trustless chance me with vain favour crowned, 
That saddest houre my life had almost drowned : 
Now she hath clouded her deceitfull face, 
My spitefull dayes prolong their weary race. 
My friends, why did you count me fortunate ? 
He that is fall'n ne're stood in setded state. 




And that thy miseries may increase the more, the greatest part doe not so much respect 
the value of things, as the event of fortune, and they esteeme only that to be providently 
done, which the happy successe commends. By which means it commeth to passe, that the 
first losse which miserable men have is their estimation, 62 and the good opinion which 
was had of them. What rumors goe now among the people, what dissonant & divers 
opinions ? I cannot abide to thinke of them. Only this I will say; the last burthen of ad- 
versity is, that when they which are in misery are accused of any crime, they are thought 
to deserve whatsoever they suffer. And I, spoiled of all my goodes, bereaved of my dig- 
nities, blemished in my good name, for benefites received punishments. And methinks I 
see the cursed crews s of the wicked abounding with joy and gladnesse, and every lost corn- 
pardon devising with himselfe, how to accuse others falsly, good men lie prostrate with 
the terror of my danger, and every lewd fellow is provoked by impunity to attempt any 
wickednesse, and by rewards to bring it to effect; but the innocent are not only deprived 
of all security, but also of any manner of defence. Wherefore I may well exclaime : 

Verse V 

Boetius conTplaineth, that all things are governed by God's providence, beside the actions 
and affayres of men 

REATOR Of the s -kie, 
Who sit3t on thine eternall throne on hie, 
Who doest quicke motion cause, 
In all the heav'ns, and giv'st the starres their lawes, 
That the pale Queene of night, 
Sometimes receiving all her brother's light, 
Should shine in her full pride, 
And with her beams the lesser stars should hide; 
Sometimes she wan her grace, 
When the sunnes rayes are in lesse distant place. 
And Hesperus 64 that flies 
As messenger before the night doth rise, 
And oft with sudden change 
Before the Sunne, as Lucifer 4 doth range. 
Thou short the dayes doest make, 
When Winter from the trees the leaves doth take : 

13. The losse of estimation with the greatest part. 
14. The wicked encouraged and the good dismayed by his fall. 
The same starre hath two contrary names, because it appeares both in the evening and morning 



Then when the fiery Sunne 
Doth summer cause, makest thoughts swiftly run, 
Thy might doth rule the yeare, 
As Northerne winds the leaves away doe beare, 
So Zephyrus from West, 
The plants in all their glory doth revest; 
And Syrius es burnes that come, 
With which Arcturus e did the earth adorne. 
None from thy lawes are free, 
Nor can forsake their place ordain'd by thee. 
Thou that to certaine end 
Govern'st all things; deniest thou to intend 
The Acts of men alone, 
Directing them in measure from thy throne ? 
For why should slipp'ry chance 
Rule all things with such doubtfull governance ? 
Or why should punishments, 
Due to the guilty light on innocents? 
But now the highest place, 
Giveth to naughty manners greatest grace, 
And wicked people vex 
Good men and tread unjustly on their necks, 
Vertue in darknesse lurkes, 
And righteous soules are charg'd with impious works. 
Deceits nor Perjuries, 
Disgrace not those, who colour them with lies, 
For when it doth them please 
To show their force, they to their will with ease 
The hearts of kings can steare, 
To whome so many crouch with trembling feare. 
O thou that joyn'st with love 
All worldly things, Iooke from thy seat above 
On the earthe's wretched state, 
We men, not the least worke thou didst create, 
With fortune's blasts doe shake; 
Thou carefull ruler, these fierce tempests slake, 
And for the earth provide, 
Those lawes by which thou heav'n in peace dost guide. 

Diverse starres which appeare by the sunne in divers seasons. 


Verse VI 
Philosophy proverb that order is necessary in all things 

'HEN hot with Phoebus' beams, 
The Crab casts fiery gleames, 
He, that doth then with seede, 
The fruitlesse furrowes feede, 
Deceived of his bread, 
Must be with akornes fed. 
Seeke not the flowry woods, 
For Violets' sweet buddes, 
When fields are overcast 
With the fierce Northerne blast, 
Nor hope then home to bring, 
The branches of the spring. 
If thou in grapes delight, 
In Autumne Bacchus' might 
With them doth decke our clime. 
God ev'ry sev'rall time, 
With proper grace hath crown'd, 
Nor will those lawes confound, 
M,'hich he once settled hath. 
He, that with headlong path 
This certaine order leaves, 
An haplesse end receives. 

Prose VI 

Philosophy discovereth the inward causes o] Boetius his griefe 

" IRST therefore wilt thou let me touch and trie the state of thy mind by asking thee a 
few questions, that I may understand how thou art to be cured.' To which I ans- 
wered; 'Aske me what questions thou wilt, and I will answere thee'. And then shee 
said : 'Thinkest thou that this world is governed by happe hazard and chance? or rather 
doest thou believe that it is ruled by reason?' 'I can,' quoth I, 'in no manner imagine, 
that such certaine motions are caused by rash chance. And I "know that God the Creator 
doth govern his worke, neither will I ever thinke otherxse.' 'It is so,' saith shee, 'for so 


Philosophy declareth 

Verse VII 

how the perturbations o[ our mind doe hinder us [rom the know- 
ledge o I truth 

'HEN starres are shrouded 
With duskie night, 
They yeeld no light 
Being so clowded. 
When the wind moveth, 
And waves doth reare, 
The Sea late cleare, 
Foule and darke proveth. 
And rivers creeping 
Downe a high hill, 
Stand often still, 
Rocks them backe keeping. 
If thou wouldst brightly, 
See truth's cleare rayes, 
Or walke those wayes, 
Which lead most rightly, 
All joy forsaking, 
Feare thou must file, 
And hopes defie, 
No sorrow taking. 
For where these terrors 
Raigne in the mind, 
They it doe bind, 
In cloudy errors. 


Prose II 
Fortune sheweth, that shee hath taken 
nothing [rorn Boetius, that was his 

']" _IT I would urge thee a little with Fortune's owne speeches. Wherefore consider thou, 
if shee asketh not reason ? "For what cause, O man, chargest thou mee with daily 
complaints? What injury have I done thee? What goods of thine have I taken 
from thee ? Contend with mee before any judge, about the possession of riches and dig- 
nities: and if thou canst shew, that the proprietie of any of these things belong to any 
mortall wight, I will foorthwith willingly graunt, that those things which thou demand- 
est, were thine. When nature produced thee out of thy mother's wombe, I received thee 
naked and poore in all respects, cherished thee with my wealth, and--which maketh thee 
now to fall out with me--being forward to favour thee, I had most tender care for thy 
education, and adorned thee with the aboundance and splendour of all things, which are 
in my power. Now it pleaseth mee to withdraw my hand, yeeld than'ks, as one that hath 
had the use, of that which was not his owne. Thou hast no just cause to complaine, as 
though thou hadst lost that which was fully thine owne. Wherefore lamentest thou ? I 
have offered thee no violence. Riches, honours and the rest of that sort belongs to mee. 
They acknowledge mee for their Mistresse, and themselves for my servants. They come 
with me, and when I goe away, they likewise depart, I may boldly affirm, if those things 
which thou complainest to be taken from thee, had beene thine owne, thou shouldest 
never have lost them. Must I only be forbidden to use my right? It is lawful for the 
heaven to bring foorth faire dayes, and to hide them againe in darkesome nights. It is 
lawfull for the yeere sometime to compasse the face of the earth with flowers and fruites, 
and sometime to cover it with clouds and cold. The Sea hath right sometime to fawne 
with calmes, and sometime to frowne with stormes and waves. And shall the unsatiable 
desire of men tie me to constancie so contrarie to my custome ? This is my force, this is 
the sport, which I continually use. I turn about my wheele with speed, and take a 
pleasure to turne things upside downe. Ascend, if thou wilt, but with this condition, that 
thou thinkest it not an injurie to descend when the course of my sport so requireth. Did- 
dest thou not know my fashion ? Wert thou ignorant how Croesus King of the Lydians, 
not long before a terrour to Cyrus, 5 within a while after came to such miserie, that hee 
should have beene burnt, had hee not been saved by a shower sent from heaven. Hast thou 
forgotten how Paul 8 pyously bewailed the calamities of King Persus 7 his prisoner ? What 
other thing doth the out-crie of Tragedies lament but that Fortune, having no respect, 
overturneth happie states? Diddest thou not learne in thy youth, that there lay two 
Barrels, 8 th'one of good things, and the other of bad, at Jupiter's threshold ? But what if 
 King of Persia. "Paulus Aemilius, Consul of Rome. ' Or Perses, King of Macedonia. 
 This is taken out of Homer Iliad XXIV. 

the best sort, and being chosen to have affinitie with the chiefest of the Citie, thou be- 
gannest sooner to be deare unto them, than to be akinne, which is the most excellent kind 
of -kindred. Who esteemed thee not most happie, having so Noble a Father-in-law, so 
chaste a Wife, and so many Sonnes? I say nothing (for I will not speake of ordinarie 
matters) of the dignities denied to others in their age, and graunted to thee in thy youth. 
I desire to come to the top of thy felicitie. If any fruit of mortall things hath any weight 
of happinesse, can the remembrance of that light bee darkened with any cloud of miser- 
ies that can overcast thee ? When thou sawest thy two Sonnes being both Consuls together 
caried from their house, the Senatours accompanying them, & the people rejoycing with 
them, when they, sitting in the Senate in their Chaires of estate, thou making an Oration 
in the kings praise, deservedst the glory of witte and eloquence. When in publike assembly 
thou, having beene Consul thy selfe, standing betwixt thy two Sonnes, diddest satisfie 
with thy triumphant liberalitie the expectation of the multitudes gathered together. I 
suppose thou flatteredst fortune, while shee fawned thus upon thee, and used thee, as 
her dearest friend. Thou obtainedst more at her hands than ever private man had be- 
fore thee. Wilt thou reckon with fortune ? This is the first time that ever shee frowned up- 
on thee. If thou considerest the number and measure of thy joyfull and sad accidents, 
thou canst not chuse but thinke thy selfe happie still. And if thou esteemest not thy selfe 
fortunate, because those things which seemed joyfull are past, there is no cause, why 
thou shouldest thinke thy selfe miserable since those things which thou takest to be 
sorrowfull, doe passe. Comrnest thou now first as a Pilgrime and stranger into the Theater 
of this life? supposest thou to find any constancie in humane affaires? Since that man 
himselfe is soone gone, for although things subject to fortune seldome keepe touch in 
staying, yet the end of life is a certaine death, even of that fortune, which remaineth. 
Wherefore what matter is it, whether thou by dying leavest it, or it forsaketh thee bv fly- 

Verse III 
Philosophy dcclareth, how all worldly things 
decay and lade away 

HEN Phoebus with his Rosie teame 
Sheweth his lightsome beame, 
The dull and darkened Starres retire 
Yeelding to greater fire. 
When Zephyrus his warmth doth bring, 
Sweete Roses decke the spring 
Let noysome Auster blow apace, 
Plants soone will loose their grace. 


The Sea hath often quiet stood, 
With an unmoved flood; 
And often is turmoyled with waves, 
When boystrous Boreas raves. 
If thus the world never long tarie, 
The same, but often varie : 
On fading fortunes then relie, 
Trust to those goods that flie. 
An everlasting law is made, 
That all things borne shall fade. 

Prose IV 
Philosophy proveth, that Boetius is still [ortunate, and that no man hath complete 
happiness in this li[e 

o which I answered : 'The things, which thou reportest are true, O nurse of all ver- 
tues, and I cannot denie the most speedy course of my prosperitie, but this is that 
which vexeth me most, when I remember it. For in all adversitie of fortune, it is the 
most unhappie kind of misfortune, to have beene happie.' 'But,' quoth shee, 'thou canst 
not justly impute to the things themselves that thou are punished for thy false opinion. 
For if this vaine name of casuall felicitie moveth thee, let us make accompt with how 
many, and how great things thou aboundest. Wherefore if that, which in all thy reven- 
ewes of fortune, thou esteemedst most precious, doeth still by God's providence remahae 
safe and untouched, canst thou, retaining the best, justly complaine of misfortune ? But 
thy Father-in-law Symmachus (that most excellent ornament of mankind) liveth in safetie, 
and for the obtaining of which thou wouldest willingly spend thy life, that man wholly 
framed to wisedome and vertues, being secure of his owne, mourneth for thy injuries. 
Thy wife liveth, modest in disposition, eminent in chastitie, and--to rehearse briefely 
all her excellent gifts--like her Father. Shee liveth, I say, and wearie of her life, refuseth 
her breath only for thee. In which alone I must also graunt, that thy felicitie is diminished, 
she consumeth her selfe with teares and griefe for thy sake. What should I speake of thy 
children, which have beene Consuls, in whome already, as in Children of that age, their 
Father's, or Grandfather's good disposition appeareth ? wherefore since the greatest care, 
that mortall men have, is to save their lives, O happie man that thou art, if thou 
knowest thy owne wealth, who still hast remaining those things, which no man doubteth 
to bee dearer than life it selfe ? And therefore cease weeping. Fortune hath not hitherto 
shewed her hatred against you all, neither are thou assailed with too boystrous a storme, 

Moreover, hcc that nowc cnjoycth this brittle fclicitic, either knowcth it to bc mutable, 
or no; if not, what estate can bcc blessed by ignorant blindncssc? And if hcc knowcth it, 
hcc must nccdcs fcarc lest hcc lose that which, hcc doubtcth not, may bcc lost, where- 
fore continuall fcarc pcrmittcth him not to bcc happic. Or doeth hcc thinkc that it wcrc to 
bc neglected, though hcc should loose it? But so it wcrc a very finall good, which hcc 
would bc content to lose. And because thou art one whom I know to bc fully pcrswadcd 
that the soulcs of men arc in no wise mortall; and since it is clcarc that casuall fclicitic is 
ended by the body's death, there is no doubt, if this can cause blcsscdncssc, but that all 
mankind fallcth into miscric by death. But if wc know many have sought to reap the 
fruit of blesscdncssc, not only by death, but also by atttictions and torrncnts, how can this 
present life make men happic, the lossc of which causcth not miscric ?' 

Verse I V 
Philosophy commendeth a meane estate 

'HO with an heedefull care 
Will an eternall seate prepare, 
Which cannot be downecast 
By any force of windie blast, 
And will the floods despise, 
When threatening billowes doe arise, 
He not on hills must stand, 
Nor on the dang'rous sinking sand, 
For there the winds will threate, 
And him with furious tempest beate, 
And here the ground too weake 
Will with the heavie burthen breake. 
Flie then the dangerous case 
Of an untry'd delightful place, 
And thy poore house bestow 
In stonie places firme and low. 
For though the winds doe sound, 
And waves of troubled Seas confound, 
Yet thou to rest disposed 
In thy safe lowly vale inclosed, 
Mayst live a quiet age, 
Skorning the Ayre's distemp'red rage. 


Prose V 
How riches are neither precious, nor our owne 

'-ryr since my reasons begin to sinke into thy mind, I will use those, which are some- 
what more forcible. Goe to then, if the gifts of fortune were not brittle and momen- 
tarie, what is there in them, which can either ever bee made your owne, or well 
weighed and considered seemeth not vile and of no accompt ? Are riches either yours, or 
precious in themselves? What part of them can bee so esteemed of? Gold, or heapes of 
money? But these make a fairer shew, when they are spent, than when they are kept. 
For covetousnesse alway maketh men odious, as liberalitie famous. And if a man cannot 
have that which is given to another, then money is precious when, bestowed upon others, 
it is not possessed any longer. But if all the money in the whole world were in one man's 
custodie, all other men should bee poore. The voice at the same time wholly filleth the 
eares of many, but your riches cannot passe to many except they bee diminished. Which 
being done, they must needes make them poore, whome they leave. O scant and poore 
riches, which neither can bee wholly possessed of many, and come to none without the 
impoverishment of others ! Doeth the glittering of jewels drawe thy eye after them ? E.ut 
if there be any great matter in this shewe, not men but the jewels shine, which I exceed- 
ingly marvaile, that men admire. For what is there wanting life and members, that may 
justly seeme beautifull to a nature not onely endued with fife, but also with reason? 
Which, though by their maker's workemanshippe, and their own varietie they have some 
part of basest beautie, yet it is so farre inferiour to your excellencie, that it did in no sort 
deserve your admiration. Does the pleasant prospect of the fields delight you? Why 
not ? For it is a faire portion of the fairest worke. So wee are delighted with a calme Sea, 
so we admire the skie, the Starres, the Sunne, and the Moone. Doth any of these belong 
to thee? Darest thou boast of the beautie, which any of them have? Art thou adorned 
with Mayflowers? Or doeth thy fertilitie bring forth the fruits of Summer? Why rejoy- 
cest thou vainely? Why embracest thou outward goods, as if they were thine owne ? For- 
tune will never make those things thine, which by the appointment of nature belong not 
to thee. The fruits of the earth are appointed for the sustenance of living creatures. But 
if thou wilt onely satisfie want, which fulfileth nature, there is no cause to require the 
superfluities of fortune. For nature is contented with tittle, and if being satisfied, thou 
wilt overlay it with more than needes, that which thou addest, wilt either become unpleas- 
ant, or hurtfull. But perhaps thou thinkest it a fine thing, to goe decked in gay apparell, 
which if they make a faire shew, I will admire either the goodnesse of the stuff`e, or the 
invention of the wor "kman. Or doth the multitude of servants make thee happie? Who if 
they bee vicious, they are a pernicious burthen to thy house, and exceeding troublesome 
to their Master: and if they bee honest, what shalt thou bee the better for other men's 

honestic ? By all which it is manifestly proved, that none of these goods, which thou ac- 
countest thine are thine indeede. And if there be nothing in them worthy to be desired, 
why art thou either glad, when thou hast them or sorie, when thou loosest them? Or 
what is it to thee, if they bee precious by nature ? For in this respect they would have 
pleased thee though they had belonged to others. For they are not precious because they 
are come to bee thine but, because they seemed precious, thou wert desirous to have 
them. Now, what desire you with so much adoe? Perhaps you seeke to drive away 
penurie with plentie. But this falleth out quite contrarie, for you stand in neede of many 
supplies, to furnish your selves with varietie of precious ornaments. And it is true that 
they which have much neede much, 14 and contrariwise, that they neede little, which meas- 
ure not their wealth by the superfluitie of ambition, but by the necessitie of nature. Have 
you no proper and inward good that you seeke so much after those things which are out- 
ward and separated from you ? Is the condition of things so changed that man who is de- 
servedly accounted divine for the gift of reason seemeth to have no other excellency 
than the possession of a little household stuffe ? All other creatures are content with that 
they have of their owne, and you, who in your minds carie the likenesse of God, are con- 
tent to take the ornaments of your excellent nature from most base and vile things, 
neither understand you, what injurie you doe to your creatour. Hee would have 
mankinde to excelle all earthly things; you debase your dignitie under every mean- 
est creature. For if it be manifest that the good of every thing is more precious than 
that, whose good it is, since you judge the vilest things that can be to bee your goods, you 
deject your selves under them in your owne estimation, is which questionless com- 
meth not undeservedly to passe; for this is the condition of man's nature, that then 
only surpasseth other things, when it knoweth it selfe; and it is worse TM than beasts 
when it is without that knowledge. For in other living creatures the ignorance of 
themselves is nature, but in men it is vice. And how farre doeth this errour of yours ex- 
tend, who thinke, that any can bee adorned with the ornaments of another? Which can 
in no wise be. For if any adjoyned thing seeme precious, it is that which is praised, but 
that which is covered and enwrapped in it, remaineth notwithstanding with the foule base- 
hesse which it hath of it selfe. Moreover, I denie that to be good which hurteth the pos- 
sessor. Am I deceived in this ? I am sure thou wilt say, no. But riches have often hurt their 
possessors since every lewdest companion, who are consequently most desirous of that 
which is not their owne, thinke themselves most worthy to possess alone all the Gold, and 
jewels in the world. Wherefore thou, who with much perturbation fearest now to be as- 
sayled and slaine, if thou hadst entred the path of this life, like a poore passenger, needest 
not be afraid, but mightest rejoice and sing even in the sight of most ravenous thieves. 
0 excellent happinesse of mortall riches, which when thou hast gotten, thou hast lost thy 

They which have much, need much. 
Man dejecteth himselfe by loving worldly things. 
Hee is worse than beasts, when he knoweth not himselfe. 


Verse V 
Philosophy commendeth the ]ormer age, which was ]ree ]Tom covetousnesse 

oo much the former age was blest, 
When fields the pleased owners failed not, 
Who with no slothfull lust opprest 
Broke their long fasts with akornes eas'ly got. 
No wine with honie mixed was, 
Nor did they silke in purple colours steepe. 
They slept upon the wholesome grasse 
And their coole drink did fetch from riers deepe. 
The pines did hide them with their shade, 
No Merchants through the dang'rous billowes went, 
Nor with desire of gainefull trade 
Their trafficke into forraine Countreyes sent. 
Then no shrill Trumpets did amate 
The minds of souldiers with their daunting sounds, 
Nor weapons were through deadly hate 
Dy'd with the dreadful bloud of gaping wounds. 
For how could any furie draw 
The mind of man to stirre up warres in vaine, 
When nothing but fierce wounds he saw, 
And for his blood no recompence should gaine. 
O that the ancient manners would 
In these our latter happelesse times returne. 
Now the desire of having gold 
Doth like the flaming fires of Aetna a7 burne. 
Ah who was he, that first did show 
The heapes of treasure which the earth did hide, 
And jewels which lay close below 
By which he costly dangers did provide. 

hill in Sicily. 


Prose VII 
O glory 

HEN I sayd: 'Thou thy selfe knowest, that the ambition of mortall things hath borne 
as little sway with me as with any, but I desired matter of action, least old age should 
come upon me ere I had done any thing.' To which shee answered : 'This is the 
the only thing, which is able to enrich such minds as being excellently qualfified by nature 
are not yet brought to the perfection of vertues, I meane desire of glorie, and fame of 
best deserts towards their common wealth. Which how slender it is, and voide of all weight, 
consider this. Thou hast learned by astronomicall demonstrations that the compasse of the 
whole earth compared to the scope of heaven is no bigger then a pinne's point, which is 
as much to say, as that it hath no bignesse at all. And of this so small a region onely the 
fourth part is knowne to be inhabited, as Ptolomaeus proveth. From which fourth part, 
if thou takest away the seas, and marish grounds, and all other desert places, there will 
skarcely be left any roome at all for men to inhabit. Wherefore enclosed and shutte up in 
this smallest point of that other point, doe you thinke of extending your fame and enlarg- 
ing your name ? But what great or heroical matter can that glory have, which is pent up 
in so small and narrow bounds ? Besides that the little compasse of this small habitation is 
inhabited by many nations, different in language, fashions, and conversation, to which by 
reason of the difficulties in travelling, the diversitie of speach, and the scarcitie of trafficke, 
not onely the fame of particular men, but even of cities can hardly come. Finally in the 
age of Marcus Tulfius, as he himselfe writeth, 2 the fame of the Roman commonwealth 
had not passed the mountaine Caucasus, 27 and yet it was then in the most flourishing es- 
tate, fearful even to the Parthyans -"s and to the rest of the nations about. Seest thou, how 
streight and narrow that glorie is, which you labour to enlarge & encrease ? Where the 
fame of the Roman name could not passe, can the glory of a Romane man penetrate? 
Moreover, the customes and lawes of divers nations doe so much differ the one from the 
other, that the same thing, which some commend as laudable, others condemne as de- 
serving punishment. So that, if a man be delighted with the praise of fame, it is in no 
way convenient for him to be named in many countreys. Wherefore every man must be 
content with that glorie, which he may have at home, & that noble immortalitie of fame 
must be comprehended within the compasse of one nation. No, v, how many, most famous 
while they rived, are altogether forgotten for want of writers !s Though what doe writings 
availe, which perish as well as their authors by continuance and obscuritie of time ? But you 
imagine, that you make your selves immortall, when you cast your eyes upon future fame. 
Whereas, if thou weighest attentively the infinite spaces of eternide, what cause hast thou 
to rejoyce at the prolonging of thy name ? For if we compare the stay of one moment with 
 Insomnio Scipionis.  A mountaine betwixt Scythia and India. 
" People of Asia major.  Glory lasteth not long. 



from true goodnesse, adversitie recalleth and reclaymeth them many times by force, to 
true happinesse. Doest thou esteeme it a small benefite, that this rough and harsh fortune 
hath made knowne unto thee the minds of thy faithfull friends? Shee hath severed thy 
assured from thy doubtfull friends; prosperitie at her departure tooke away with her those 
which were hers and left thee thine. How dearely wouldest thou have bought this before 
thy fall, and when thou seemedst to thy selfe fortunate? Desist from seeking to recover 
thy lost riches, since thou hast found friends, the most precious treasure in the world.' 

Verse VIII 
Philosophy praiseth true love and [riendship 

HAT this faire world in settled course her severall formes should vary, 
That a perpetuall Law should tame the fighting seedes of thins, 
That Phoebus should the rosie day in his bright chariot cary, 
That Phoebe should governe the nights, which Hesperus forth brings, 
That to the flouds of greedy seas are certaine bounds assign'd, 
Which them, lest they usurpe too much upon the earth, debarre, 
Love, ruling heav'n and earth and seas, them in this course doest bind. 
And if at once let loose their raines, their friendshippe turnes to warre, 
Tearing the world whose ordered forme their quiet motions beare. 
By it all holy Lawes are made, and marriage rites are ti'd, 
By it is faithfull friendshippe join'd. How happy mortalls were, 
If that pure love did guide their minds, which heav'nly Spheares doth guide. 


Prose I 

Philosophy promiseth to explicate true [elicitie 

HOUGH shee had ended her verse, yet the sweetness of it made mee remaine aston- 
ished, attentive, and desirous to heare her longer. Wherefore after a while, I saide : 
'O most effectuall refreshment of wearied mindes, how much have I been com- 
forted with thy weightie sentences and pleasing Musicke ! Insomuch that I begin to thinke 
myselfe not unable to encounter the assaults of fortune. Wherefore I am not now afraid 
but rather earnestly desire to know those remedies, which before thou toldest mee were 
too sharpe.' To which she answered : 'I perceived as much, as thou sayest, when I sawe 
thee hearken to my speeches with so great silence and attention, and I expected this dis- 
position of thy mind, or rather more truely caused it my selfe. For the remedies which re- 
maine are of that sort that they are bitter to the taste but being inwardly received waxe 
sweete. And whereas thou sayest that thou art desirous to heare; how much would this de- 
sire encrease if thou knewest whither we goe about to bring thee [' 'Whither?' quoth 
I. 'To true felicitie,' quoth she, 'which thy mind also dreameth of, but thy sight is so dimmed 
with phantasies that thou canst not behold it as it is.' Then I beseeched her to explicate 
without delay, wherein true happiness consisteth. To which she answered: 'I will wil- 
ingly doe so for thy sake, but first I will endeavour to declare that, which is better "knowne 
unto thee, that having thoroughly understood it, by reflecting on the contrary thou mai- 
est discover a glimpse of perfect blessednesse.' 

Verse I 

False [elicitie must bee [orsaken, that true happinesse may be embraced 

E that a fruitfull field will sow, 
Doth first the ground from bushes free, 
All Ferne and Bryers likewise mow, 




and swiftnesse, fame, and health yeeldeth pleasure. By all which wee manifestly seeke 
for nothing else but happinesse. For that, which every man seeketh most after, is by him 
esteemed his greatest good. Which is all one with happinesse. Wherefore he esteemeth 
that estate happy, which hee prefereth before all other. And thus thou hast in a manner 
seene the forme of human felicitie, riches, honour, power, glorie, pleasure. Which the 
Epicure only considering, consequently tooke pleasure for his chiefest good, because all 
the rest seeme to delight the mind. But I returne to the carefull thoughts of men, whose 
minds though obscured, yet seeke after the greatest good, but like a drunken man, know 
not the way home. For, seeme they to erre who endevour to want nothing? But nothing 
can cause happinesse so much as the plentifull possession of all that is good, needing the 
helpe of none, but is sufficient of it self. Or doe they erre who take that which is best to bee 
likewise most worthy of respect ? No. For it is no vile or contemptible thing, which al- 
most all men labour to obtain. Or is not power to bee esteemed good? Why then, is 
that to be accounted feeble and of no force, which manifestly surpasseth all other things ? 
Or is fame to be contemned ? But these two cannot be separated, that the most excellent 
seeme also most famous. For to what purpose should I say, that happinesse is not sadde 
or melancholy, or subject to griefe and trouble, when even in smallest matters we desire 
that which wee delight to have and enjoy ? And these be the things which men desire to 
obtaine, and to this end procure riches, dignities, kingdomes, glory and pleasures because 
by them they thinke to have sufficiencie, respect, power, fame, delight and joy. Where- 
fore that is good which men seeke after by divers desires, in which the force of nature is 
easily descried, since though there be many and different opinions, yet they agree in 
chusing for their end that which is good.' 

\Terse I I 
How nature cannot bee wholly changed 

OW the first reins of all things guided are 
By powerfull nature, as the chiefest cause, 
And how shee keepes with a foreseeing care 
The spacious world in order by her lawes, 
And to sure knots, which nothing can untie, 
By her strong hand all earthly motions drawes : 
To shew all this we purpose now to trie 
Our pleasing Verses, and our Musicke sound. 
Although the Lybian Lyons often lie 
Gentle and tame in willing fetters bound, 
And fearing their incensed master's wrath 
With patient lookes endure each blow and wound, 



Yet if their jawes they once in blood doe bathe, 
They gaining courage with fierce noyse awake 
The force which nature in them seated hath, 
And from their neckes the broken chaines doe shake; 
Then he, that tam'd them first doeth feele their rage, 
And torne in pieces doth their furie slake. 
The bird shut up in an unpleasing cage, 
Which on the loftie trees did lately sing, 
Though men her want of freedome to asswage, 
Should unto her with carefull labour bring 
The sweetest meates, which they can best devise : 
Yet when on toppes of houses fluttering 
The pleasing shadowes of the groves shee spies, 
Her hated foode she scatters with her feete, 
And discontented to the woods shee flies, 
And their delights to tune her accents sweete. 
When some strong hand doth tender plant constraine 
With his debased top the ground to meet, 
If it let goe, the crooked twigge againe 
Up toward heaven it selfe it streight doth raise. 
Phoebus doeth fall into the Westerne maine, 
Yet doeth he backe returne by secret wayes, 
And to the East doeth guide his chariot's race. 
Each thing a certaine course and lawes obeyes, 
Striving to turne backe to his proper place; 
Nor any settled order can be found, 
But that, which doth within it selfe embrace 
The births and ends of all things in a round. 


Prose III 
That true happinesse consisteth not in riches 

'k/v'ou also, O earthly creatures, though slightly and as it were in a dreame acknowledge 
|your begimfing, and though not perspicuously yet in some sort behold that true end 
- of happinesse, so that the intention of nature leadeth you to the true good and 
manifold errour withdraweth you from it. For consider whether those things by which men 
thinke to obtaine happinesse can bring them to their desired end. For if either money, 
or honour, or any of the rest be of that qualitie, that they want nothing which is good, 
we will also confesse, that they are able to make men happy. But if they neither be able to 

performe that they promise, and want many things which are good, are they not mani- 
festly discovered to have a false appearance of happinesse ? First then, I aske thee thy selfe, 
who not long since diddest abound with wealth. In that plenty of riches was thy minde 
never troubled with any injuries?' 'I cannot remember,' quoth I, 'that ever my mind was 
so free from trouble, but that something or other still vexed me.' 'Was it not because thou 
either wantedst something, which thou wouldedst have had, or else haddest something 
which thou wouldest have wanted ?' 'It is true,' quoth I. 'Then thou desiredst the presence 
of that and the absence of this.' 'I confesse I did' quoth I. 'And doth not a man want 
that,' quoth shee, 'which hee desireth?' 'He doth,' quoth I. 'But he that wanteth any 
thing, is not altogether sufficient of himselfe.' 'He is not,' quoth I. 'So that thou felt'st 
this insufficiencie even in the height of thy wealth.' 'Why not ?' quoth I. 'Then riches 
cannot make a man wanting nothing nor sufficient of himselfe, and this was that they 
seemed to promise. But this is most of all to be considered, that money hath nothing of 
itself, which can keepe it from being taken from them, which possesse it against their 
will.' 'I grant,' quoth I, 'Why shouldest thou not grant it since that every day those, which 
are more potent, take it from others perforce ? For from whence proceede so many com- 
plaints in Law but that money gotten either by violence, or deceit is sought to be recov- 
ered by that meanes?' 'It is so indeed,' quoth I. 'So that every man needeth some other 
helpe to defend his money.' 'Who denies that ?' quoth I. 'But hee should not neede that 
helpe unless he had money which he might loose.' 'There is no doubt of that,' quoth I. 
'Now then the matter is fallen out quite contrary for riches which are thought to suffise 
of themselves rather make man stand in need of other helpes. And after what manner doe 
fiches expell penury? For are not rich men hungry? Are they not thirsty? Or doeth much 
money make the owners senseless of cold in winter ? But thou wilt say, wealthy men have 
wherewithal to satisfie their hunger, slake their thirst, and defend themselves from cold. 
But in this sort, though wants may be somewhat relieved by wealth, yet it cannot 
altogether be taken away. For if ever gaping and craving, it bee satiated by riches, 
there must needes alway remaine something to be satiated. I omitte, that to nature very 
little, to covetousnesse nothing is sufficient. Wherefore if riches can neither remove wants 
and cause some themselves, why imagine you that they can cause sufficiency.' 

Verse III 

How riches afflict their possessours in li[e, and [orsake them in death 

THOUOH the rich man from his mines of gold, 
Digge treasure, which his mind can never fill, 
And loftie necke with precious Pearles enfold 
And his fatte fields with many Oxen till : 
Yet biting cares will never leave his head, 
Nor will his wealth attend him being dead. 



man's conscience, who measureth his owne good, not by popular rumours, but by 
his owne certaine knowledge. And if it seemeth a faire thing to have dilated our fame, 
consequently wee must judge it a foule thing not to have it extended. But since as I 
shewed a little before, there must needes be many nations to which the fame of one 
man cannot arrive, it commeth to passe, that he, whom esteemed glorious, in the next 
Countrey seemeth to have no glory at all. And here now I thinke popular glory not worth 
the speaking of, which neither proceedeth from judgement, nor ever hath any firmnesse. 
Likewise, who seeth not what a vaine and idle thing it is to be called noble ? Which, for as 
much as belongeth to fame, is not our owne. For Nobilitie seemeth to be a certaine 
praise proceeding from our parents' deserts. And if praising causeth fame, they must 
necessarily be famous who are praised. Wherefore the fame of others, if thou hast none of 
thine own, maketh not thee renowned. And if there be any thing good in nobility, I judge 
it only to be this, that it imposeth a necessitie upon those, which are .Noble, not to degen- 
erate from the vertue of their ancestors.' 

Verse VI 
How all, but wicked men, are noble 

I-IE gen'rall race of men from alike birth is borne. 
All things one father have, who doth them all adorne, 
Who gave the Sunne his rayes and the pale ]kloone her home 
The Ioftie heaven for Starres, low earth for mortals chose; 
He soules * fetch't downe from high in bodies did enclose 
And that from noble birth all men did first compose. 
Why bragge you of your stocke ? since none is counted base 
If you consider God the author of your race, 
But he that with foule vice doeth his owne birth deface. 

Prose \71I 

That true happinesse consisteth not in pleasure 

ow what should I speake of bodily pleasure, the desire of which is full of anxietie, 
& the enjoying of them breeds repentance? How many diseases, how intoller- 
able griefes bring they forth in the bodies of their possessors, as it were the fruites 
of their wickednesse? I know not what sweetnesse their motions have, but whosoever 
will remember his lusts, shall understand that the end of pleasure is sadnesse. "Vhich if it 
' Here Boetius speaketh according to the opinion of Platonists who thought, that the soules were created 
in heaven, but the truth is that they are created in the bodies, so soone as they are ready for life. 



be able to cause happinesse, there is no reason why beasts should not be thought 
blessed, whose whole intention ks bent to supply their corporall wants. That pleasure, 
which proceedeth from wife and children ks most honest; but it was too naturally 
spoken that (I knowe not whome) found his children his tormentors, whose condition, 
whatsoever it be, how biting it is, I neede not tell thee, who hast had experience heere- 
tofore, and art not now free from care. In which I approve the opinion of Euripides, who 
said that they, which have no children, are happy by being unfortunate.' 

Verse VI I 
That there is no pleasure without paine 

.sPleasure hath thks property, 
bee woundeth those, who have her most. 
And like unto the angrie Bee, 
Who hath her pleasant home lost, 
Shee flies away with nimble wing, 
And in our hearts doeth leave her sting. 

Prose VIII 
How all temporal goods are mixed with evill, and are small in themselves 

*' j , HEREFORE there is no doubt, but that these waies to happinesse are only cer- 
taine by-pathes which can never bring any man thither whither they promise to 
to leade him. And with how greate evills they are besette, I will briefely shew. 
For what ? wilt thou endevour to gather money ? but thou shalt take it away from him 
who hath it. Wilt thou excell in dignities? Thou shalt crouche to the giver, and thou, who 
desireth to surpasse others in honour, shalt become vile by thy basenesse in begging. Wish- 
est thou for power ? Thou shalt be in danger of thy subjects' treacheries. Seekest thou for 
glory ? But drawne into many difficulties, thou shalt loose thy safety. Wilt thou live a 
voluptuous life ? But who would not despise and neglect the service of so vile and base 
a thing, as his body ? Now they who boast of tile habifities of their body, upon how un- 
stedfast a possession doe they ground themselves ? For can you bee bigger than Elephants, 
or stronger then Bulls? Or swifter then Tygers? Looke upon the space, firmnesse and 
speedy motion of the heavens, and cease at length to have in admiration these base 
things. Which heavens are not more to be admired for these qualfities, than for the many 
of their government. As for the glittering of beautie, how soone and swiftly doeth it vanish 

away ? As suddenly decaying and changing as the fraile flowers in the spring. And if, as 
Aristotle sayeth, men had Lynx's 8 eyes that they could see through stone walles, would 
they not judge that body of Alcibiades 9 seeming outwardly most faire, to be most foule 
and ugly by discovering his entrailes? Wherefore not thy nature, but the weaknesse of the 
beholder's eyes maketh thee seeme faire. But esteeme the goods of the body as much as 
you will, so that you acknowledge this, that whatsoever you admire may be dissolved 
with the burning of an Ague of three dayes. Out of all which, wee may briefly collect this 
summe; that these goods, which can neither performe that they promise, nor are perfect 
by having all that is good, doe neyther, as so many pathes, leade men to happinesse, nor 
make men happy of themselves.' 

Verse VIII 
How men are wise in seeking [or things of little value, and foolish in finding out 
their soveraigne good. 

LAS, how ignorance makes wretches stray 
.out of the way ! 
xt ou from greene trees expect no golden mines, 
nor pearles from vines. 
Nor use you on mountaines to lay your net, 
fishes to get. 
Nor, if the pleasant sport of hunting please, 
runne you to seas. 
Men will be skil[ull in the hidden caves 
of th'Ocean waves, 
And in what coasts the orient pearles are bred, 
or purple red. 
Also, what diff'rent sortes of fishes store 
each severall shore. 
But when they come their chiefest good to find, 
then are they blind. 
And search for that under the earth, ,-hich lies 
above the skies. 
How should I curse these fooles ? Let thirst them hold 
of fame and gold, 
That having got false goods ith payne, they learne 
true to discerne. 
 The beast Lynx hath the quickest sight of any beast. Plin. lib 32 Hist. nat. cap. 8. There was also a 
man called Lynceus, who did see through walls &c. Apollonius in Argonauticis, etc. 
0 A noble Captaine of Athens. 


Prose IX 
Why true ]elicitie cannot consist in tempomll things. 

'" ET it suffice, that wee have hitherto discovered the forme of false felicitie, which if 
kthou hast plainely seene, now requireth we true hap- 
pinesse consisteth.' 'I see,' quoth I, 'that neither sufficiencie by fiches, nor power by 
kingdomes, nor respect by dignities, nor renowne by glory, nor joy can be gotten by pleas- 
ures.' 'Hast thou also understood the causes why it is so ?' 'Methinke I have a little glimpse 
of them, but I had rather thou wouldest declare them more plainely.' 'The reason is 
manifest, for that which is simple and undevided of itselfe is devided by men's errour, 
and is translated from true and perfect to false and unperfect. Thinkest thou, that which 
needeth nothing, to stand in need of power ?' 'No,' quoth I. 'Thou sayest well, for if any 
power in any respect bee weake, in this it must necessarily stand in need of the helpe of 
others,' 'It is true,' quoth I. 'Wherefore sufficiencie and power have one and the same 
nature.' 'So it seemeth.' 'Now thinkest thou that which is of this sort ought to bee des- 
pised, or rather that it ks worthy to be respected above all other things ?' 'There can be no 
doubt of this,' quoth I. 'Let us adde respect then to sufficiencie and power so that wee 
judge these three to bee one.' 'We must adde it, if we will confesse the truth.' 'What now,' 
quoth she, 'thinkest thou this to be obscure and base or rather most excellent and famous ? 
Consider whether, that, which thou hast granted to want nothing, to bee most potent 
and most worthy of Honour, may seeme to want fame, which it cannot yeeld it selfe, 
and for that cause be in some respect more abject.' 'I must needes confesse,' quoth I, 
'that it is also most famous.' 'Consequently then wee must acknowledge that fame differ- 
eth nothing from the former three.' 'We must so,' quoth I. 'Wherefore that which want- 
eth nothing, which can performe all things by its owne power, which is famous and re- 
spected, ks it not manifest that it is also most pleasant ?' To which I answered : 'How such 
a man should fall into any griefe I can by no meanes imagine. Wherefore if that, which 
wee have said hitherto be true, wee must needs confesse, that he ks most joyfull and con- 
tent.' 'And by the same reason it followeth that sufficiencie, power, fame, respect, pleas- 
ure have indeede diverse names, but differ not in substance.' 'It followeth indeed,' quoth 
I. 'This then, which is one and simple by nature, man's wickednesse devideth, and while 
he endeavoureth to obtaine part of that which hath no partes, he neither getteth a part, 
which is none, nor the whole, which he seeketh not after.' 'How is this ?' quoth I. 'Hee 
who seeketh after fiches,' quoth she, 'to avoid want, taketh no thought for power, hee 
had rather be base and obscure, he depriveth himselfe even of many naturall pleasures, 
that he may not loose the money, which he hath gotten. But by this meanes he attaineth 
not to sufficiencie, whom power forsaketh, whom trouble molesteth, whom basenesse 
maketh abject, whom obscuritie overwhelmeth. Againe, he that only desireth power, 
consumeth wealth, despiseth pleasures, and setteth fight by honour or glory which ks not 

potent. But thou seest how many things are wanting to this man also. For sometimes he 
wanteth necessaries, and is perplexed with anxieties, and being not able to ridde himself e, 
ceaseth to be powerfull, which was the thing he only a)aned at. The like discourse may 
be made of honours, glory, pleasures. For since every one of these things is the same 
with the rest, whosoever seeketh for any of them without the rest, obtaineth not that 
which hee desireth.' 'What then ?' quoth I. 'If one should desire to have them altogether, 
he should wish for the summe of happinesse, but shall hee find it in these things, which 
wee have shewed cannot performe what they promise ?' 'lX'o,' quoth I. 'Wherefore we 
must by no meanes seeke for happinesse in these things, which are thought to afford the 
severall portions of that, which is to be desired.' 'I confesse it,' quoth I, 'and nothing can 
be more true than this.' 'Now then,' quoth she, 'thou hast both the forme and causes of 
false felicitie. Cast but the eyes of thy minde on the contrary, and thou shalt presently 
espie the true happinesse which we promised to shew thee.' 'This,' quoth I, 'is evident 
even to him that is blind, and thou shewedst it a little before, while thou endeavouredst 
to lay open the causes of the false. For, if I bee not deceived, that is true and perfect 
happinesse, which maketh a man sufficient, potent, respected, famous, joyfull. And that 
thou maist know that I understood thee aright, that which can truely performe any one 
of these because they are all one, I ac "knowledge without all doubt to be full and perfect 
happinesse.' 'O my scholler, I thinke thee happy by having this opinion, if thou addest 
this also.' 'What ?' quoth I. 'Doest thou imagine that there is any mortall or fraile thing, 
which can cause this happy estate ?' 'I doe not,' quoth I, 'and that hath beene so proved by 
thee, that more cannot be desired.' 'Wherefore these things seeme to afford men the 
images of the true good, or certaine unperfect goods, but they cannot give them the true 
and perfect good it selfe.' 'I am of the same mind,' quoth I. 'Now then since thou know- wherein true happinesse consisteth, and what have only a false shew of it, it re- 
maineth that thou shouldest learne where thou maiest seeke for this which is true.' 'This 
is that,' quoth I 'which I have long earnestly exspected.' 'But since as Plato teacheth (in 
Timaeus) we must implore God's assistance even in our least affaires, what thinkest thou, 
must wee doe now, that we may deserve to find the seat of that Soveraigne good ?' 
must,' quoth I, 'invocate the father of all things without whose remembrance no begin- 
ning hath a good foundation.' 'Thou sayest rightly,' quoth shee and withall sung in this 

Verse IX 
Philosophy craveth Gods assistance [or the discovery o[ true happinesse 

THOU, that dost the world in lasting order guide, 
Father of heav'n & earth who makest time swiftly slide, 
And standing stil thyselfe yet fram'st all moving laws, 
Who to thy works wert mov'd by no externall cause : 

ncsse, they arc not so much wished for, as goodncssc it sclfc. But wc grauntcd that to bc 
happinesse, for which other things arc desired, wherefore in like manner only blessed- 
hesse is sought after. By which it plainly appcarcth that goodnesse and happinesse have 
onc and thc sclfc samc substancc. I scc not how any man can dissent. But wc have shcwcd 
that God and truc blesscdnessc arc one and the sclfc-sarnc thing.' 'It is so,' quoth I. 'We 
may then securely conclude that the substance of God consistcth in nothing else, but in 

Verse X 

Philosophy exhorteth men to embrace true happinesse 

Oi hither all you that are bound, , 
Whose base and earthly minds are drown d 
By lust, which doth them rye in cruell chaynes. 
Here is a seat for men opprest, 
Here is a port of pleasant rest; 
Here may a wretch have refuge from his paynes. 
No gold which Tagus 4 sands below, 
Nor which on Hermus 5 bankes doth flow, 
iX'or precious stones, which skorched Indians get, 
Can cleare the sharpenesse of the mind, 
But rather make it farre more blind 
And it in farther depth of darkenesse set. 
For this that sets our soules on worke 
Buried in caves of earth doth lurke. 
But heav'n is guided by another light, 
Which causeth us to shunne the darke, 
And who this light doth truely marke, 
Must needs deny that Phoebus' beames are bright. 

Prose XI 
That goodnesse is the end o[ all things 

" CONSENT,' quoth I, 'for all is grounded upon most firmc reasons.' 'But what account 
wilt thou make,' quoth she, 'to know what goodnesse it selfe is.' 'I will esteem it in- 
finitely,' quoth I, 'because by this meanes I shall come to know God also who is nothing 
else but goodnesse.' 'I will conclude this,' quoth shee, 'most certainely, if those things be 
not denied which I have already proved.' 'They shall not,' quoth I. 'Have wee not proved,' 
4 A river in Portugal or Spaine.  A river in Lydia. 



quoth shee, 'that those things which are desired of many are not true and perfect goods 
because they differ one from another and being separated, cannot cause complete and ab- 
solute goodnesse which is only found, when they are united as it were into one forme and 
causality, that the same may be sufficiencie, power, respect, fame, and pleasure ? And ex- 
cept they be all one and the same thing, that they have nothing worth the desiring?' 'It 
hath bin proved,' quoth I, 'neyther can it be any way doubted of.' 'Those things then, 
which when they differ, are not good and when they are one, become good, are they not 
made good by obtayning unitie?' 'So me thinke,' quoth I. 'But doest thou grant that all 
that is good is good by pertaking goodnesse?' 'It is so.' 'Thou mayest graunt then like- 
wise that unitie and goodnesse are the same. For those things have the same substance, 
which naturally have not divers effects.' 'I cannot denie it,' quoth I. 'Knowest thou 
then,' quoth shee, 'that everything that is, doth so long remaine and subsist as it is one 
and perisheth and is dkssolved so soone as it ceaseth to bee one.' 'How?' '.Ls in living 
creatures,' quoth she, 'so long as the body and the soule remaine united, the living creature 
remaineth. But when this unity is disolved by their separation, it is manifest that it perish- 
eth, and is no longer a living creature. The body also itselfe, so long as it remaineth in one 
forme by the conjunction of the parts there appeareth the likenesse of a man. But if the 
members of the body being seperated and sundred, have lost their unitie, it is no longer 
the same. And in like manner it will bee manifest to him ttat will descend to other par- 
ticulars, that every thing continueth so long as it is one, and perisheth when it looseth 
unitie.' 'Considering more particulars, I find it to bee no otherwise.' 'Is there any thing,' 
quoth she, 'that in the course of nature, leaving the desire of being, seeketh to come to 
destruction & corruption?' 'If,' quoth I, 'I consider living creatures, which have any 
nature to will and to hill, I find nothing, that without externe compulsion, forsake the 
intention to remain, and of their owne accord hasten to distruction. For every li"ing 
creature laboureth to preserve his health, and escheweth death and detriment. But what 
I should thinke of heaths, and trees, and of all things without life, I am altogether doubt- 
full.' 'But there is no cause why thou shouldest doubt of this, if thou considerest first, 
that hearbs and trees grow in places agreeable to their nature, where so much as their con- 
stitution permitteth, they cannot soone wither and perish. For some grow in fields, other 
upon hils, some in fennie, other in stonie places, and the barren sands are fertile for some, 
which if thou wouldest transplant into other places, they dye. But nature giveth every 
one that which is fitting, and striveth to keepe them from decaying so long as they can 
remaine. What should I tell thee, if all of them, as it were thrusting their head into the 
ground, draw nourishment by their rootes, and convey substance and barke by the in- 
ward pith ? What, that alway the softest, as the pith is placed within, and is covered with 
more firme wood, and last of all the bark is exposed to the weather, as being best able to 
beare it off. And how great is the diligence of nature, that all things may continue by the 
multiplication of seede; all which who knoweth not to bee as it were certaine engines, not 
onely to remaine for a time, but successively in a manner to endure for ever. Those things 
also which are without all life, doth not every one in like manner desire that which ap- 



pertaineth to their owne good ? For why doth levitie lift up flames, or heavinesse weigh 
downe the earth, but because these places and motions are convenient for them? And 
that which is agreeable to every thing, conserveth it, as that which is opposite, causeth 
corruption. Likewise those things which are hard, as stones, sticke most firmely to their 
parts, & make great resistance to any dissolution. And liquid things, as ayer and water, 
are indeed easily devided, but doe easily also joyne againe. And fire fiyeth all devision. 
Neither doe we now treate of the voluntary motions of the understanding soule, but 
onely of naturall operations. Of which sort is, to digest that, which wee have eaten, with- 
out thinking of it, to breath in our sleepe not thinking what wee doe. For even in living 
creatures the love of life proceedeth not from the will of the soule, but from the prin- 
ciples of nature. For the will many times embraceth death upon urgent occasions, which 
nature abhorreth; and contrariwise the act of generation, by which alone the continuance 
of mortal things is maintained, is sometimes bridled by the will though nature doth alway 
desire it. So true it is that this selfe-love proceedeth not from any voluntary motion, but 
from naturall intention. For providence gave to her creatures this as the greatest cause of 
continuance that they naturally desire to continue so long as they may, wherefore there is 
no cause, why thou shouldest any way doubt, that al things, which are, desire naturally 
stabilitie of remaining, and eschue corruption.' 'I confesse,' quoth I, 'that I now see un- 
doubtedly that which before seemed very doubtfull.' 'iNow that,' quoth she, 'which de- 
sireth to continue and remaine, seeketh to have unity. For if this be taken away, being it 
selfe cannot remaine.' 'It is true,' quoth I. 'All things then,' quoth she, 'desire unitie.' I 
granted it to be so. 'But wee have shewed that unity is the same as goodnesse.' 'You have 
indeede.' 'All things then desire goodnesse which thou mayest define thus: that good- 
nesse is that which is desired of all things. There can be nothing imagined more true. For 
either all things have reference to nothing, and being destitute as it were of one head, shall 
be in confusion without any ruler: or if there be any thing, to which all things hasten, 
that must bee the chiefest of all goods.' 'I rejoice too much, O scholler,' quoth shee, 'for 
thou hast fixed in thy mind the very marke of veritie. But in this thou hast discovered that 
which a little before thou saidest thou wert ignorant of.' 'What is that ?' quoth I. 'What 
the end of all things is,' quoth she. 'For certainly it is that which is desired of all things, 
which since we have concluded to bee goodnesse, wee must also confesse that goodnesse 
is the end of all things.' 

Verse XI 

How we may attain to the knowledge of truth 

r. that would seeke the truth with thoughts profound, 
And would not stray in waies which are not right, 
He to himselfe must turne his inward sight, 
And guide his motions in a circled round, 



Teaching his mind what ever she dissigne 
Her selfe in her owne treasures to possesse; 
So that which late lay hidde in cloudinesse, 
More bright and cleere then Phoebus' beames shall shine. 
Flesh hath not quenched all the spirit's light. 
Though this oblivious lump holds her opprest, 
Some seede of truth remaineth in our brest, 
Which skilfull learning easly doth excite. 
For being askt, how can we answere true 
Unlesse that grace within our hearts did dwell ? 
If Plato's heav'nly muse the truth us tell, 
We learning things, remember 6 them anew. 

Prose XII 
lIow the world is governed by God 

IEN I said, that I did verie well like of Plato's doctrine for she had brought these 
things to my remembrance now the second time. First, because I lost their memorie 
by the contagion of my bodie, and after when I was oppressed with the burthen of 
griefe. 'If,' quoth she, 'thou reflectest upon that, which heretofore hath beene granted, 
thou wilt not be farre off from remembring that which in the beginning thou confessedst 
thy selfe to bee ignorant of.' 'What?' quoth I. 'By what government,' quoth she 'the 
world is ruled.' 'I remember,' quoth I, 'that I did confesse my ignorance but though I 
foresee what thou wilt say, yet I desire to heare it more plainly from thy selfe.' 'Thou 
thoughtest a little before that it was not to be doubted that the world is governed by God.' 
'Neither doe I thinke now,' quoth I, 'Neither will I ever thinke that is to be doubted of, 
and I will briefely explicate the reasons, which move me to thinke so. This world could 
never have beene compacted of so many divers and contrarie parts, unlesse there were one 
that doth unite these so different things and this disagreeing diversity of natures being 
united would separate and divide this concord unlesse there were one that holdeth to- 
gether that which he united. Neither would the course of nature continue so certaine nor 
hold so well ordered motions in due places, times, causalitie, spaces and qualities unlesse 
there were one, who himselfe remaining quiet, disposeth and ordereth this varietie of 
motions. This, whatsoever it bee, by which things created continue and are moved, I call 
God, a name which all men use.' 'Since,' quoth shee, 'thou art of this mind, I thinke with 
little labour thou mayest be capable of felicity and returne to thy countrey in safetie. But 
let us consider what we proposed. Have we not placed sufficiency in happines and granted, 
 This was Plato's opinion, but the truth /s that knowledge /s gotten by invention, & instruction sup- 
posing that one has the light of understanding which is capable of it. 

that God is blcsscdnes it sclfc?' 'Yes trucly.' 'Wherefore,' quoth shcc, 'hcc nccdcth no 
outward helps to govcrnc thc world, otherwise, if hc nccdcth any thing, hc hath not full 
sufficiency.' 'That,' quoth I, 'must necessarily bcc so.' 'Wherefore hc disposcth al things 
by himsclfc.' 'No doubt hcc doth,' quoth I. 'But it hath bccnc proved that God is good- 
hesse it sclfc.' 'I remember it very well,' quoth I. 'Then hcc disposcth all things by good- 
hesse since hc govcrncth all things by himsclfc, whom wc have gTantcd to bc goodnessc.' 
'And this is as it wcrc the stern and government, by which the frame of the world is 
kept stcdfast and uncorrupted.' 'I most willingly agree,' quoth I, 'and I foresaw a httlc 
before though only with a slender guessc that thou wouldest conclude this.' 'I belccvc 
thee,' quoth shcc, 'for now I suppose thou lookest more watchfully about thcc to disccrnc 
the truth but that which I wil say is no lessc manifest.' 'What ?' quoth I. 'Since that God 
is deservedly thought to govcrnc all things with the stern of goodnessc and all these things 
likewise, as I have shewed, hasten to goodnessc with their naturall intention, can there 
bc any doubt made, but that they arc governed willingly, and that they frame themselves 
of their ownc accord to their disposer's bcckc, as agreeable and conformable to their ruler ?' 
'It must needes bee so,' quoth I, 'neither would it seeme an happy government, if it were 
an imposed yoake, not a desired health.' 'There is nothing then which following nature 
endeavoureth to resist God.' 'Nothing,' quoth I. 'What if any thing doeth endeavour,' 
quoth she, 'can any thing prevaile against him, whom we have granted to be most power- 
full by reason of his blessednesse ?' 'No doubt,' quoth I, 'nothing could prevaile.' "Vhere- 
fore there is nothing which either will or can resist this soveraigne goodnesse.' 'I thinke 
not,' quoth I. 'It is then the soveraigne goodnesse, which governeth all things strongly and 
disposeth them sweetly.' 'How much,' quoth I, 'doth not only the reason, which thou 
alleadgest, but much more the very words, which thou usest, delight mee, that folly which 
bawleth forth great things, may at length bee ashamed of her selfe.' 'Thou hast heard in 
the Poet's Fables  how the Gyants provoked heaven but this benigne fortitude put them 
also down, as they deserved. But wilt thou have me urge farther by way of disputation ? 
Perhaps by this arguing there will file out some beautifull sparke of truth.' 'As it pleaseth 
thee,' quoth I. 'No man can doubt,' quoth she, 'but that God is Almighty.' 'No man,' 
quoth I, 'that is well in his wittes.' 'But, quoth shee, 'there is nothing that he, who is AI- 
mightie, cannot doe.' 'Nothing,' quoth I. 'Can God do evil ?' 'No quoth I. "Vherfore,' 
quoth shee, 'Exq_ll is nothing, since hee cannot doe it, who can doe any thing.' 'Dost 
thou mocke mee,' quoth I, 'making with thy reasons an inextricable labyrinth that now 
thou maist go in where thou meanest to goe out againe, and after goe out, where thou 
earnest in, or doest thou frame a wonderful circle of the simplicity of God ? For a little 
before taking thy be#nning from blessednesse, thou affirmedst that to be the chiefest 
good, which thou saydest was placed in God, and likewise thou provedst, that God him- 
selfe is the chiefest good, and ful happines, out of which thou madest mee a present of 
that inference, that no man shall be happy unlesse hee bee also a God. Againe thou told- 
est me that the forme of goodness is the substance of God and of blessednesse and that 
" Ovid. lib 2. Metamor. E. Macrobius. Lib 1. Saturna 1. 



upon thy mind, with which shee may rouse herselfe, that all perturbation being driven 
away, thou mayest returne safely into thy countrey by my direction, by my path and 
with my wings.' 

Verse I 
How Philosophy bringeth men to the contemplation o[ God 

oR I have swift and nimble wings 
Which will ascend the lofty skies, 
With which when thy quick mind is clad 
It will the loathed earth despise 
And goe beyond the airy globe 
And watery clouds behind it leax e 
Passing the fire, which skorching heat 
Doth from the heav'ns swift course receive 
Until it reach the starry house 
And get to tread bright Phoebus' ways, 
Joining itself in company 
With aged Saturn's lightsome rays 
And trace the circles of the starres 
Which in the night to us appeare; 
And having stayed there long enough 
Goe on beyond the farthest sphere, 
Sitting upon the highest orbe, 
Partaker of the glorious fight 
Where th'highest King his Sceptre holds. 
And the world's reins doth guide aright 
And in his chariot standing firrne 
Doth everything in order set. 
Unto this seat when thou art brought, 
Thy countrey which thou didst forget, 
Thou then wilt challenge to thyselfe, 
Saying "This is the glorious land 
Where I was borne and in this soile 
My feete for evermore shall stand." 
Whence if thou pleasest to behold 
The earthly night which thou hast left, 
Those tyraunts, which the people feare, 
Will seeme of their true home bereft. 



motion of walking is agreeable to the nature of men ?' 'No,' quoth I. 'And makest thou 
any doubt that the function of it doth naturally belong to the feet ?' 'There is no doubt of 
this neither,' quoth I. 'Wherfore if one that can go uppon his feete, doth walke and an- 
other, who hath not this naturall function of his feete, endeavoureth to walke by creep- 
ing upon his hands, which of these two is deservedly to be esteemed the stronger ?' 'Inferre 
the rest,' quoth I, 'for no man doubteth but that hee which can use that naturall func- 
tion is stronger than he which cannot.' 'But,' quoth she, 'the good seeke to obtaine the 
chiefest good which is equally proposed to badde and good, by the naturall function of 
vertues, but the evill endeavour to obtaine the same by divers concupiscenses which 
are not the natural function of obtaining goodnesse. Thinkest thou otherwise?' 'No,' 
quoth I, 'for it is manifest what followeth. For by force of that which I have already 
granted, it is necessary that good men are powerful and evil men weake.' 'Thou runnest 
rightly,' quoth she,' and it is (as Physicians are wont to hope) a token of an erected and re- 
sisting nature. Wherefore, since I see thee most apt and willing to comprehend, I will 
therefore heape up manie reasons together. For consider the great weaknesse of vicious 
men, who cannot come so farre, as their natural] intention leadeth, and almost com- 
pelleth them. And what? If they were destitute of this so great and almost invincible 
helpe of the direction of nature? Ponder likewise the immense impotency of wicked 
men. For they are no light or trifling rewards, which they desire and cannot obtaine, but 
they faile in the very summe and toppe of things: neither can the poore wretches corn- 
passe that which they only labour for nights and daies : in which thing the forces of the 
good eminently appeare. For as thou wouldest judge him to be most able to walke who 
going on foote could come as farre as there were any place to goe in, so must thou of 
force judge him most powerful, who obtaineth the end of all, that can be desired, beyond 
which there is nothing. Hence that which is opposite also followeth, that the same men 
are wicked, and destitute of all forces. For why doe they follow vices, forsaking vertues ? 
By ignorance of that which is good ? But what is more devoide of strength than blind ig- 
norance? Or do they know what they should embrace, but passion driveth them head- 
long the contrary way ? So also intemperance make them fraile, since they cannot strive 
against vice. Or doe they wittingly and willingly forsake goodnesse, and decline to vices? 
But in this sort they leave not only to be powerfull but even to be at all. For they which 
leave the common end of all things which are, leave also being. Which may perhaps seeme 
strange to some, that we should say, that evil] men are not at all, who are the greatest 
part of men : but yet it is so. For I denie not, that evill men are evill, but withall I say 
that purely and simply they are not. 
For as thou mayest call a carcasse a dead man, but not simply a man, so I confesse, 
that the vicious are evill, but I cannot grant that absolutely they are. For that is which re- 
taineth order, and keepeth nature, but that which faileth from this, leaveth also to be that, 
which it is in his owne nature. But thou wilt say, that evill men can do many things, 
neither will I deny it, but this their power proceedeth not from forces but from weak- 
hesse. For they can doe evill which they could not doe if they could have remained in the 



performance of that which is good. Which possibilitie declareth more evidently that they 
can do nothing. For if, as wee concluded a little before, evill is nothing, since they can 
only doe evill, it is manifest, that they can doe nothing. It is plaine. And that thou maist 
understand what the force of this power is; we determined a little before, that there is noth- 
ing more powerful then the Soveraigne goodnesse.' 'It is true,' quoth I. 'But he cannot 
doe evill.' 'No.' 'Is there any then,' quoth she, 'that thinke that men can doe all things ? 
'No man, except he be mad, thinketh so.' 'But yet men can doe evill.' 'I would to God, 
they could not,' quoth I. 'Since therefore hee that can only doe good, can doe all things, 
and they who can doe evill, cannot doe all things, it is manifest, that they which can doe 
evill, are the lesse potent. Moreover, wee have proved that all power is to bee accounted 
among those things which are to be wished for, and that all such things have reference to 
goodnesse, as to the very height of their nature. But the possibilitie of committing wicked- 
nesse cannot have reference to goodnesse. Wherfore it is not to be wished for, & conse- 
quently it is manifest, possibility of evil is no power. By all which the power of the good 
and the undoubted infirmide of the evill appeareth. And it is manifest that that sentence 
of Plato 1 is true, that only wise men can doe that, which they desire, and that wicked 
men practise indeed what they list, but cannot performe what they would. For they doe 
what they list thin'king to obtaine the good which they desire by those things which cause 
them delight, but they obtain it not because shamefull actions cannot arrive to happi- 

Verse II 
Kings are not potent, i I they be passionate 

HE Kings whom we be.hold 
In highest glory plac t , 
And with rich purple grac t 
Compast with souldiers bold, 
Whose count'nance shewes fierce threats, 
Who with rash fury chide, 
If any curbe the pride 
Of their vaine glorious feates. 
Yet inwardly opprest 
They are with captives chaines, 
For filthy lust there raignes 
And poysoneth their brest; 

' In Gorgias. 


Wraths often them perplex, 
Raising their minds like waves 
Oft sorrow makes them slaves 
And sliding hopes them vex. 
So many Tyraunts still 
Dwelling in one poore heart 
Except they first depart 
Shee cannot have her will. 


Prose III 
That good men are not without reward, nor evill without punishments 

'"EEST thou then, in what myre wickedness wallows and how clearely honesty shin- 
eth ? By which it is manifest, that the good are never without rewards, nor the e411 
without punishments. For that, for which any thing is done, may deservedly seeme 
the reward of that action, as to him that runneth a race, the crowne for which hee run- 
neth, is proposed as a reward. But we have shewed that blessednesse is the selfe same good- 
hess for which all things are done. Wherefore this goodnesse is proposed as a common 
reward for all humane actions, and this cannot be separated from those, who are good. 
For hee shall not rightly be any longer called good, who wanteth goodnesse: where- 
fore vertuous actions are not left without their due rewards. And how much soever the 
evill doe rage, yet the wise man's crowne will not fade nor wither. For others' wickednesse 
depriveth not vertuous minds of their proper glory. But if hee should rejoyce at any thing 
which hee hath from others, either he, who gave it, or any other might take it away. But 
because every man's vertue is the cause of it, then only he shall want his reward, when 
he leaveth to be vertuous. Lastly, since every reward is therefore desired because it is 
thought to be good, who can judge him to bee devoyd of reward, which hath goodnesse 
for his possession ? But what reward hath hee ? The most beautifull and the greatest that 
can be. For remember that Corollarium, which I presented thee with a little before, as 
with a rare and pretious jewell, and inferre thus: since that goodnesse it selfe is happi- 
nesse, it is manifest that all good men even by being good, are made happy. But we agreed 
that blessed men are Gods. Wherefore the reward of good men, which no time can wast, 
no man's power diminish, no man's wickednesse obscure, is to become Gods. Which 
things being so, no wise man can any way doubt of the inseparable punishment of the 
evill. For since goodnesse and evill, punishment and reward are opposite the one to the 
other : those things, which wee see fall out in the reward of goodnesse, must needes be 
answerable in a contrary manner, in the punishment of evill. Wherefore as to honest men, 
honesty it selfe is a reward, so to the wicked their very wickednesse is a punishment. 
And hee that is punished, doubteth not, but that he is afflicted with evill. Wherefore if 

-rn. rotm-H Boor. V.RS. m 91 
they would truely consider their owne estate, can they thinke themselves free from punish- 
ment, whom wickednesse the worst of all evils, doth not only touch, but strongly infect ? 
But weigh the punishment which accompanieth the wicked by comparing it to the re- 
ward of the vertuous. For thou learnedst not long before that whatsoever is at all, is one 
and that unity is goodnesse, by which it followeth, that whatsoever is, must also bee 
good. And in this manner, whatsoever falleth from goodnesse, ceaseth to be, by which it 
followeth, that evil men leave to be that, which they were. But the shape of men, which 
they still retaine, sheweth them to have beene men, wherefore by embracing wicked- 
nesse, they have lost the nature of men. But since vertue alone can exalt us above men, 
wickedness must needes cast those under the desert of men, which it hath bereaved of 
that condition. Wherefore thou canst not account him a man, whom thou seest trans- 
formed by vices. Is the violent extortour of other men's goods caried away with his covet- 
ous desire ? Thou mayest liken him to a wolfe. Is the angrie and unquiet man alway con- 
tending and brawling ? Thou mayest compare him to a dogge. Doeth the treacherous fel- 
low rejoyce that hee hath deceived others with his hidden fraudes ? Let him be accounted 
no better then a fox. Doth the outragious fret and fume? Let him be thought to have a 
Lion's mind. Is the feareful & timorous afraid without cause ? Let him be esteemed like 
to Hares and Deers. Is the slow and stupide alway idle? He liveth an asse's life. Doth 
the light and unconstant change his courses ? Hee is nothing different from the birds. Is 
he drowned in filthy and uncleane lusts ? He is entangled in the pleasure of stinking sinne. 
So that hee, who leaving vertue, ceaseth to be a man, since he cannot be partaker of the 
Divine condition, is turned into a beast.' 

Verse II I 
That vices are o[ greater [orce, than enchauntments 

HE sailes which wise Ulisses bore, 
And ships which in the seas long time did stray, 
The easterne wind drave to that shore 2 
Where the faire goddesse Lady Circe lay 
Daughter by birth to Phoebus bright, 
Who with inchanted cups and charmes did stay 
Her guests, deceiv'd with their defight, 
And into sundry figures them did change, 
Being most s "killfull in the might, 
And secret force of herbes and simples strange, 
Some like to savage bores and some 
Like lyons fierce, which daily use to raunge 
Upon the Libyan plaines become. 
z The Isle. 

any effect. Wherefore since every one of these hath their peculiar misery, they must of 
force bee oppressed with a threefold wretchednesse, whom thou seest desire, be able, and 
performe wickednesse.' 'I grant it,' quoth I, 'but I earnestly wish that they may soone be 
delivered from this miserie having lost the power to performe their malice.' 'They will 
loose it,' quoth shee, 'sooner than perhaps either thou wouldest, or they themselves sup- 
pose. For in the short compasse of this life there is nothing so late, which the immortall 
soule thinketh to expect long, so that the great hope and highest attempts of the wicked 
are many times made frustrate with a suddene and unexpected ende, which in trueth 
maketh their misery to bee in some measure.' 
'For if wickednesse make men miserable, the longer one is wicked, the more miserable 
he must needes be; and I should judge him the most unhappy man that may be, if death 
at least did not end their malice. For if wee have concluded truely of the misery of wicked- 
hesse, it is manifest, that the wretchednesse, which is everlasting, must of force bee in- 
finite.' 'A strange illation,' quoth I, 'and hard to bee granted; but I see that those things 
which were granted before agree very well with these.' 'Thou thinkest aright,' quoth she,' 
'but he that findeth difficultie to yeeld to the conclusion, must either shew that something 
which is presupposed is false or that the combination of the propositions make not a neces- 
sary conclusion, otherwise granting that which went before hee hath no reason to doubt 
of the inference. For this also, which I will conclude now, will seeme no lesse strange, and 
vet followeth as necessarily out of those things, which are already assumed.' 'What?' 
quoth I. 'That wicked men,' quoth she, 'are more happy being punished than if they es- 
caped the hands of justice. Neither doe I now goe about to shew that which may come 
into every man's minde, that evill customes are corrected by chastisement, and are reduced 
to vertue by the terror of punishment, and that others may take example to avoid evill, 
but in another manner also I thinke vicious men that goe unpunished to be more miser- 
able although we have no relation, nor respect to correction or example.' 'And what 
other manner shall this be,' quoth I 'besides these?' 'Have we not graunted,' quoth shee, 
'that the good are happy and the evil miserable?' 'We have,' quoth I. 'If then,' quoth 
she, 'something that is good be added to one's misery, is not hee happier than another, 
whose misery is desolate and solitary, without any participation of goodnesse?' 'So it 
seemeth,' quoth I. 'What if there be some other evill annexed to this miserable man, who 
is deprived of all goodness, besides those which make him miserable, is bee not to bee ac- 
counted much more unhappy than he whose miserie is lightned by perta-king of good- 
nesse?' 'Why not,' quoth I. 'Then the wicked have some good annexed when they are 
punished, to witte, the punishment it selfe, which by reason of justice is good, and when 
they are not punished, they have a farther evill, the very impunitie, which thou hast de- 
servedly graunted to bee an evill to wickednesse.' 'I cannot deny it.' 'Wherefore the 
vicious are farre more unhappy, by escaping punishment unjustly, than by being justly 
punished. But it is manifest, that it is just that the wicked be punished, and unjust 
that they should go unpunished.' 'Who can deny that?' 'But neither will any man 
deny this,' quoth shee, 'that whatsoever is just, is good, and contrariwise, that what- 



soever is unjust, is evil1.' 'This followeth,' quoth I, 'out of that which hath been con- 
cluded before. But I pray thee, leavest thou no punishments for the soules after the death 
of the body ?' 'And those great too,' quoth shee. 'Some of which I thinke to bee executed 
as sharpe punishments, and other as mercifull purgations. But I purpose not now to treate 
of those. But wee have hitherto laboured that thou shouldest perceive the power of the 
wicked, which to thee seemed intollerable, to bee none at all and that thou shouldest see 
that those whome thou complainedst went unpunished doe never escape without punish- 
ment for their wickednesse. And that thou shouldest learne that the licence, which thou 
wishedst might soone end is neither long and the longer, the more miserable, and most 
unhappy if it were everlasting. Besides, that the wicked are more wretched being per- 
mitted to escape with unjust impunity, then being punished with just severity. Out of 
which it followeth, that they are then more greevously punished, when they are thought 
to goe scot-free.' 'When I consider thy reasons,' quoth I, 'I thinke nothing can bee said 
more truely. But if, I returne to the judgements of men, who is there that will thinke them 
worthy to be beleeved, or so much as heard?' 'It is true,' quoth shee "for they cannot 
lift up their eves accustomed to darknesse, to behold the light of manifest truth, and they 
are like those birds whose sight is quickened by the night and dimmed by the day. For 
while they looke upon, not the order of things, but their owne affections, they thinke that 
licence and impunity to sinne, is happie. But see what the eternall law establisheth. If thou 
appliest thy mind to the better, thou needest no judge to reward thee : thou hast joyned 
thy selfe to the more excellent things. If thou declinest to that which is worse, never ex- 
pect any other to punish thee, thou hast put thy selfe in a miserable estate; as if by turnes 
thou lookest downe to the myerie ground; and up to heaven, all outward things ceasing, 
by thy very sight thou seemest sometime to be in the durt, and sometime present to the 
starres. But the common sort considereth not these things. What then ? Shall wee joyne our 
selves to them whom we have proved to be like beasts ? What if one having altogether lost 
his sight, should likewise forget that hee ever had any, and should thinke that hee wanted 
nothing which belongeth to humane perfection; should we therefore thinke them blind, 
that see his folly ? For they will not graunt that neither, which may be proved by as forc- 
ible reasons, that they are more unhappy, that doe injury, than they which suffer it.' 'I 
would,' quoth I, 'heare these reasons.' 'Deniest thou,' quoth she, 'that every wicked man 
deserveth punishment ?' 'No.' 'And it is many wayes cleare that the vicious are miserable.' 
'It is true,' quoth I. 'If then,' quoth shee, 'thou wert to examine this cause, whom wouldest 
thou appoint to be punished, him that did, or that suffered wrong ?' 'I doubt not,' quoth 
I, 'but that I would satisfie him that suffered, with the sorrow of him that did it.' 'The 
offerer of the injury then would seeme to thee more miserable, then the receiver.' 'It 
followeth,' quoth I. 'Hence therefore, and for other causes grounded upon that principle, 
that dishonesty of it self maketh men miserable, it appeareth, that the injury which is 
offered any man, is not the receiver's, but the doer's misery.' 'But now a dayes,' quoth 
she, 'orators take the contrary course. For they endeavour to draw the Judges to com- 
miseration of them who have suffered any greevous afflictions, whereas pitty is more justly 

due to the causers thereof, who should be brought not by angry, but rather by favourablc 
and compassionate accusers to judgement, as it were sicke men to a Physitian, that theh" 
deases and faults fright bee taken away by purshments, by which meanes the defen- 
ders' lahore', would either wholy cease, or if they had rather profitc i some sor, they 
would change their defence into accusations. And the cked themselves, if they could 
behold the least part of vertue at some little rift, and perceive that they might be de- 
livered from the filth of sinne by the affliction of punishments, in respect of obtaining 
vertue, they would not esteeme of torments, and would refuse the assistance of their de- 
fenders, and wholy resigne themselves to their accusers and Judges. By which meanes it 
commeth to passe, that in wise men there is no place at all for hatred. For, who but a verie 
foole would hate the good ? And to hate the wicked were against reason. For as faint- 
nesse is a disease of the bodie, so is vice a sickenesse of the mind. Wherefore, since wee 
judge those, that have corporall infirmities, to bee rather worthy of compassion than of 
hatred, much more are they to be pitied, and not abhorred, whose minds are oppressed 
with wickednesse the greatest malady that may be. 

Verse IV 
No man is to be hated, the good are to be loved, and the erill to be pittied 

H'r should we strive to die so many waies, 
And slay ourselves with our own hands ? 
If we seeke death, shee ready stands, 
She willing comes, her passage never stayes. 
Those against whome the wild beasts armed be, 
Are arm'd against themselves with rage. 
Doe they such warres unjustly wage, 
Because their lives, and manners disagree, 
And so themselves with mutual weapons kill. 
Alas, but this revenge is small. 
Wouldst thou give due desert to all ? 
Love then the good, and pitty thou the ill. 

Prose V 
Boetius complaineth that prosperity and adversity are cornmon both to good and 
'1" SEE,' quoth I, 'what felicity, or misery is placed in the deserts of honest and dishonest 
|men. But I consider that there is somewhat good, or evill even in this popular for- 
-tune. For no wise man had rather live in banishment, poverty and ignominie, than 

tainc Divine spirits to providence, or this fatall wcbbc bc woven by the service of the soulc; 
of all nature, or of the heavenly motions of the StarTes; of angelical vcrtuc, 7 or of dia- 
bolicall industry; or of some or all of these; that certainly is manifest, that providence is 
an unmovcablc and simple forrnc of those things, which arc to bc done; & fate a move- 
able connexion and tcmporall order of those things which the divine simplicity hath dis- 
posed to bc done. So that all that is under fate is also subject to providence, to which also 
fate it self obcicth. But some things which arc placed under providence, arc above the 
course of fate. And they arc those things, which nigh to the first divinity being stable & 
fxcd, cxcccdc the order of fatal mobility. For as of Orbcs which turnc about the sarnc 
Centre, the inmost drawcth nigh to the the simplicity of the middest, and is as it wcrc 
the hinge of the rest which arc placed without it about which they arc turned and the 
outmost wheeled with a greater cornpassc, by how much it dcpartcth from the middle in- 
divisibility of the Centre, is so much the more extended into larger spaces, but that which 
is joyncd & coupled to that middle, approachcth to simplicity, and cca.scth to spread & 
flow abroad. In like manner that which dcpartcth farthest from the first mind, is per- 
plexed with greater conncxions of fate, and every thing is so much the freer from fate, 
by how much it drawcth nigh to that hinge of all things. And if it stickcth to the stabil- 
ity" of the sovcrnign mind, frcc from motion, it surpasscth also the necessity of fate. Where- 
fore in what sort discourse is compared to understanding; that which is produced to that 
which is, time to eternity, a circle to thc Centre. Such is the course of moveable fate, to 
the stable simplicity of providence. That course moovcth the heaven and staxres, tcm- 
pcrcth the elements one with another, and transforTncth them by mutuall changing. The 
same rcncwcth all rising and dying things by like proceeding of fruites and secdes. This 
comprchcndcth also the actions and fortunes of men by an unloosablc connection of 
causes, which since they procccdc from the principles of unmoovcablc providence, must 
nccdcs also bc immutable. For in this manner things arc best governed, if the simplicity 
which rcrnayncth in the Divine mindc produccth an inflexible order of causes, and this 
order restrayncth with his ownc immutabilidc, things othcr'visc mutable and which would 
have a confused course. Whereof it cnsucth, that though all things secmc confused and 
disordered to you who arc not able to consider this order: notwithstanding all things 
arc disposed by thci ownc measure directing them to good. For there is nothing, which 
is done for the love of cvill, cvcn by the wicked themselves, whom, a.s hath bccnc abun- 
dantly prooved, lewd errour carrieth away while they are seeking after that which is good, 
so farre is it, that order proceeding from the hinge of the soveraign goodnesse, should 
avert any from his first beginning. But, thou wilt say, what more unjust confusion can 
there be than that both adversity and prosperity should happen to the good, and in like 
manner both desired and hatefull things to the wicked. But are men so completely wise, 
that whomsoever they judge wicked or honest, must needes be so? How then are their 
censures contrary one to another so that to divers the same men seeme worthy of reward 
' This is distinguished from divine spirits mentioned in the first place by their mission or outward ad- 
ministration from which the former are free. 


Whose settled course the Starres in peace doth bind. 
The Sunnes bright fire 
Stops not his sister's teame 
Nor doth the Northerne beare desire 
Within the Ocean's wave to hide her beame. 
Though she behold 
Th'other Starres their couching : 
Yet shee uncessantly is rowl'd 
About the heav'n the Ocean never touching. 
The Ev'nning light 
With certaine course doth show 
The comming of the shady night, 
And Lucifer before the day doth goe. 
This mutuall love 
Courses aeternall makes, 
And from the starry spheres above 
All cause of warre, and dang'rous discord takes. 
This sweet consent 
In aequall bands doth tye 
The nature of each Element, 
So that the moist things yeeld unto the dry. 
The piercing cold 
With flames doth friendship keepe 
The fire the highest place doth hold, 
And the grosse earth sinkes downe into the deepe. 
The flowry yeare 
Breathes odours in the spring 
The scorching summer come doth beare 
The Autumne fruit from loaden trees doth bryng. 
The falling raine 
Doth winter's moisture give 
These rules thus nourish and maintaine 
All creatures, which we see on earth to live. 
And when they dye, 
These bring them to their end, 
While their Creatour sittes on high, 
Whose hand the reins of the whole world doth bend, 
He as their King 
Rules them with Lordly might, 
From him they rise, flourish and spring, 
He as their law and judge derides their right 



Those things, whose course 
Most swiftly slides away, 
His might doth often backward force, 
And suddenly their wandring motion stay. 
Unlesse his strength 
Their violence should bound, 
And them which else would runne at length, 
Should bring within the compasse of a round : 
That fro'he decree 
Which now doth all adorne 
Would soone destroi'd and broken bee, 
Things being farre from their beginning borne. 
This powerfull love 
Is common unto all 
Which for desire of good doe move 
Backe to the springs from whence they first did fall. 
No worldly thing 
Can a continuance have 
Unlesse love backe againe it bring, 
Unto the cause, which first the essence gave. 

Prose VII 
All [ortune is good 

'''ERCEIVEST thou now what followeth of all that we have hitherto said?' 'What?' 
uoth I. 'That,' quoth she, 'all manner of fortune is good.' 'How can that bee?' 
quoth I. 'Be attentive,' quoth she, 'since that all fortune, be it pleasing or unpleas- 
ing, is directed to the reward or exercise of the good, and to the punishment and direc- 
tion of the wicked, it is manifest, it is all good, since it is all just, or profitable.' 'Thy rea- 
son is very true,' quoth I, 'and if I consider providence and fate, which thou diddest ex- 
plicate a little before, thy opinion is well grounded. But if thou pleasest, let us account 
it among those which thou not long since supposedst incredible.' 'What ?' quoth she. 'Be- 
cause men commonly use to say and repeat that some have ill fortune.' 'Shall wee,' quoth 
she, 'frame our speech to the vulgar phrase, lest we seeme to have as it were forsaken the 
use of humane conversation ?' 'As it pleaseth thee,' quoth I. 'Doest thou not thinke then 
that that is good which is profitable ?' 'Yes,' quoth I. 'But that, which either exerciseth, 
or correcteth, is profitable.' 'It is true,' quoth I. 'It is good then?' 'Why not?' 'But this 
is the estate of them who being either vertuous strive with adversity, or forsaking vices, be- 


Prose III 
Boetius proposeth the diculty of concording God's providence 

with men's 

IIEN I complained, that I was now in a greater conftsion, & more doubtful 
difficultie then before. 'What is that ?' quoth she, 'for I already conjecture what it 
is that troubleth thee.' 'It seemeth,' quoth I, 'to bee altogether impossible and re- 
pugnant that God foreseeth all things and that there should be any free-will. For if God 
beholdeth all things and cannot be deceived, that must of necessity follow, which his 
providence foreseeth to be to come. Wherefore if from eternity he doth not only foreknow 
the deeds of men, but also their counsels and wills, there can be no freewill; for there is 
not any other deede or will but those which the divine providence that cannot bee de- 
ceived hath foreseene. For if things can be drawn to any other course than was foreknowne, 
there will not be any firm knowledge of that which is to come, but rather an uncertaine 
opinion.  hich in my opinion were impious to believe of God. Neither do I allow of that 
reason, with which some suppose that they can dissolve the difficulty of this question. For 
they say, that nothing is therefore to come to passe, because providence did foresee it, 
but rather contrarywise, because it shall bee, it could not be unknown to providence, 
and in like manner it is necessary that the other should be true. For it is not necessarie 
that those things should happen which are foreseene but it is necessarie that those things 
should be foreseene that are to come. As though our question were which of them is the 
other's cause, the foreknowledge of the necessitie of things to come, or the necessitie of 
things to come of foreknowledge? But let us endeavour to prove that howsoever these 
causes be ordered, the event of the things, which are foreknowne, is necessary, although 
the foreknowledge seemeth not to inferre necessitie of being upon the things themselves. 
For if any man sitteth the opinion which thinketh so must needes be true, and again on 
the other side, if the opinion that one sitteth be true hee must needes sitte. Wherefore 
there is necessitie in both in the one of sitting, and in the other of truth. But one sitteth 
not because the opinion is true, but rather this is true because one sitteth. So that 
though the cause of truth proceedeth from one part, yet there is a common necessity in 
both..Mad the like is to be inferred of providence & future things. For although they be 
oreseene because they shall be and they doe not come to passe because they are not fore- 
seene: notwithstanding it is necessary that things to come be foreseene, or that things 
foreseen doe fall out; which alone is sufficient to overthrow freewill. Besides how prepos- 
terous is it that the event of temporall things should be said to be the cause of the ever- 
lasting foreknowledge. And what else is it to thinke that God doth therefore foresee 
future things, because they are to happen, than to affirme that those things which hap- 
pened long since are the cause of that soveraigne providence ? Furthermore, as when I 



know any thing to be, it must needs be; so when I know that any thing shall be, it must 
needes be to come. And so it followeth that the event of a thing foreknowen cannot be 
avoyded. Finally if any man thinketh otherwise, than the thing is, that is not only no 
knowledge, but it is a deceitfull opinion, farre from the truth of knowledge; wherefore if 
anything is to bee in such sort, that the event of it is not certaine or necessary, how can 
that be foreknowen that it shal happen ? For as the knowledge is without mLxture of fal- 
sity, so that which is conceived by it cannot be otherwise then it is conceived. For this is the 
cause why knowledge is without deceit, because every thing must needs be so, as the know- 
ledge apprehendeth it to be. What then ? How doth God foreknow that these uncertaine 
things shall bee ? For if bee judgeth that those things shall happen inevitably, which it is 
possible shall not happen, hee is deceived, which it is not only impious to thinke, but also 
to speake. But if he supposeth, that they shall happen in such sort as they are, so that hee 
knoweth that they may equally be done and not be done, what foreknowledge is this 
which comprehendeth no certaine or stable thing? Or in what is this better then that 
ridiculous prophecy of Tiresias ? "Whatsoever I say, shall either be, or not be," or in what 
shall the divine providence exceede humane opinion, if, as men, God judgeth those 
things to be uncertaine, the event of which is doubtfull? But if nothing can bee un- 
certaine to that most certaine fountaine of all things, the event of those things is certaine, 
which he doth certainely know shall be. Wherefore there is no freedome in humane 
counsels and actions, which the divine mind foreseeing all things without errour or false- 
hood, tyeth and bindeth to one event. Which once admitted, it is evident, what ruine of 
humane affayres will ensue. For in vain are rewards and punishments proposed to good 
and evill, which no free and voluntary motion of their minds hath deserved..\nd that 
will seeme most unjust, which is now judged most just, that either the wicked should 
be punished, or the good rewarded, since their owne will leadeth them to neither, but 
they are compelled by the certaine necessity of that which is to come. By which meanes 
vertues and vices shall be nothing, but rather there will follow a rnixt confusion of all de- 
serts. And--than which there can be nothing invented more impious--since that all order 
of things proceedeth from providence, and humane counsels can do nothing, it follow- 
eth, that our vices also shall be referred to the author of goodnesse. Wherefore there is 
no meanes left to hope or pray for any thing. For what can any man either hope or pray 
for, since an unflexible course connecteth all things that can bee desired ? Wherefore that 
only trafficke betwixt God and men of hope and prayer shall bee taken away. For by 
the price of just humility, we deserve the unestimable benefite of God's grace, which is 
the only manner, by which it seemeth that men may talke with God and by the very man- 
ner of supplication be joyned to that inaccessible light, before they obtain any thing: 
which if by the admitting the necessity of future things, they bee thought to have no 
force; by what shall we be united and cleave to that soveraigne Prince of all things? 
Wherefore mankind must needes, (as thou saydest in thy verse a little before) being 
separated and severed from his fountain, faile & fall away.' 


Prose IV 

Philosophy beginneth to solve the difficulties, which Boetius proposed 

tHIS,' quoth shee, 'is an ancient complaint of providence, vehemendy pursued by 
bY Marcus Tullius, in his Distribution o[ Divination, and a thing which thou thy 
selfe hast made great and long search after. But hitherto none of you have used 
sufficient diligence and vigour in the explication thereof. The cause of which obscurity 
is, for that the motion of humane discourse cannot attaine to the simplicity of the divine 
knowledge, which if by any means wee could conceive there would not remain any doubt 
at all, which I will endeavour to make manifest and plaine, when I have first explicated 
that, which moveth thee. For I demand why thou thinkest their solution unsufficient who 
thinke that freewill is not hindered by fore'knowledge, because they suppose that fore- 
knowledge is not the cause of any necessity in things to come. For fetchest thou any proofe 
for the necessity of future things from any other principle, but only from this, that 
those things which are foreknowne cannot chuse but happen ? Wherefore if foreknow- 
ledge imposeth no necessitie upon future events, which thou diddest grant not long be- 
fore, why should voluntary actions be tyed to any certaine successe ? For example's sake, 
that thou maiest see what will follow, let us suppose that there were no providence or 
foresight at all. Would those things which proceede from freewill, be compelled to any 
necessity by this meanes?' 'No.' 'Againe let us grant it to be, but that it imposeth no neces- 
sity upon any thing; no doubt the same freedome of will, will remaine whole and abso- 
lute. But, thou wilt say, though foreknowledge be not a necessity for things to happen, 
yet it is a signe, that they shal necessarily come to passe. Wherefore now, though there 
had bin no foreknowledge, the events of future things would have beene necessary. For 
all signes only shew something, that is, but cause not that which they designe. And conse- 
quently it must first be proved, that all things fall out by necessity, that it may appeare 
that foreknowledge is a signe of this necessity. For otherwise if there be no necessity, 
neither can foreknowledge be the signe of that which is not. Besides it is manifest that 
every firme proofe must bee drawne from intrinsecall and necessary causes, and not from 
signes and other farrefetched arguments. But how is it possible, those things should not 
happen, which are foreseene to be to come ? As though we did beleeve that those things 
will not be, which providence hath foreknowne, and doe not rather judge that although 
they happen, yet by their owne nature they had no necessity of being, which thou maiest 
easily gather hence. For we see many things with our eyes, while they are in doing, as 
those things which the Coach men do while they drive and turne their Coaches, and in like 
manner other things. Now doth necessity compell any of these things to be done in this 
sort ?' 'No.' 'For in vain should Art labour, if all things were moved by compulsion. Where- 
fore these things are without necessity, when they are in doing; so likewise they are to come 



knowledge. Seest thou now how all these in knowing, doe rather use their owne force 
and faculty, than the force of those things, which are knowen ? Nor undeservedly, for since 
all judgement is the act of him who judgeth, it is necessary that every one should per- 
fect his operation by his owne power, and not by the force of any other.' 

Verse IV 
That our knowledge is not wholy taken [rorn the outward object 

/crErTS in schooles once too obscurely taught 
That sense and shape presented to the thought, 
From outward objects their impression take, 
As when upon a paper smooth and plaine 
On which as yet no markes of inke have layne 
We with a nimble pen doe letters make. 
But if our minds to nothing can apply 
Their proper motions, but doe patient fie 
Subject to formes, which doe from bodies flow, 
Like to a glasse, rendring the shapes of things, 
Who then can shew, from whence that motion springs, 
By force of which the mind all things doth know ? 
Or by what skill are sev'rall things espide ? 
And being knowne, what power doth them deride ? 
And thus derided, doth again unite ? 
And with a various journey, oft aspires 
To highest things, and oft againe retires 
To basest, nothing being out of sight ? 
And when she backe unto her selfe doth move, 
Doth all the falsehoods by the truth reprove, 
This vigour needes must be an active cause 
And with more powerfull forces must be deckt, 
Than that which from those formes, that do reflect 
From outward matter, all her vertue drawes. 
And yet in living bodies passion's might 
Doth goe before, whose office is t'encite, 
And the first motions in the mind to make; 
As when the light unto our eyes appeares 
Or some loud royce is sounded in our eares. 
Then doth the strength of the dull mind awake 



"Ihose phantasies, which she retaynes within, 
She stirreth up such motions to begin, 
Whose objects with their natures best agree. 
And thus applying them to outward things, 
She joynes th'externall shapes, which thence she brings, 
With formes which in her selfe included bee. 

Prose V 
That rcason must yeeld to the simplicity o] God's knowledge 

' y]$  if in descerning of bodies by sense, although the qualifies which are objected to 
move the organs of sense, and the passion of the body goeth before the vigor of the 
active mind, provoking her action to it selfe, and exciting the inward formes, which 
before lay quiet; if, I say, in perceiving these corporal objects, the mind taketh not her 
impression from passion, but by her own force judgeth of the passion it self, which is ob- 
jected to the body; how much more do those powers exercise the action of their minde 
and not only follow the outward objects in their judgement, which are free from all affec- 
tions of the body ? Wherefore in this sort have divers and different substances, knowledges 
of many kinds. For only sense destitute of all other, is in those living creatures, which are 
unmoveable, as some shell-fish, and other which sticke to stones and so are nourished. And 
imagination in moveable beasts, who seeme to have some power to covet, and file. Rea- 
son belongeth only to man "ldnd, as understanding to things Divine. So that, that know- 
ledge is most excellent which of it selfe doth not only know her owne object, but also those 
which belong to others. What then, if sense and imagination repugne to discourse and 
reason, affirming that universallity to be nothing, which reason thinketh her selfe to 
see? For that cannot be universal, which is either sensible or imaginable. Wherefore 
either the judgment of reason must be true, and nothing at all sensible, or 
because they know that many things are subject to the senses and imagination, the 
conceit of reason is vaine, which considereth that which is sensible and singular, as 
if it were universall. And if reason should answere that she beholdeth her universal- 
fity all that which is sensible or imaginable, but they cannot aspire to the knowledge of 
universalfity, because their knowledge cannot surpasse corporall figures and shapes. And 
that wee must give more credite to the firmer and more perfect judgement, about the 
knowledge of things. In this contention, should not wee, who have the power of dis- 
coursing, as well as of imagination and sense, rather take reason's part ? The very fike 
happeneth, when humane reason doth not thinke that the divine understanding doeth 
beholde future things, otherwise than she her selfe doth. For thus thou arguest, if any 
things seeme not to have certaine and necessary events, they cannot be certainely fore- 
knowne to bee to come. Wherefore there is no foreknowledge of these things and if we 

thinkc that there is any, there shall bc nothing, which happcncth not of necessity. If 
therefore, as wc arc endued with reason, wcc could likcwisc have the judgcrnent proper 
to the divine mind, as wc have judged that imagination and sense must yccld to reason, 
so likewise wc would thinkc it most reasonable and just, that humane reason should sub- 
rnittc her sclfc to the Divine mind. Wherefore let us bcc lifted up, as much as wcc can to 
that hdght of the highest mind; for there reason shall scc that, which she cannot behold 
in her sclfc. And that is how a certainc and definite fore'knowledge sccth those things, 
which have no ccrtainc issue, and that this is no opinion, but rather the simplicitc of the 
highest knowledge, inclosed with no bounds.' 

Verse V 
Ian's body declareth that his mind was made to conternplate heavenly things 

-LT sev'rall figures things that live upon the earth do keepe ! 
Some have their bodies stretcht in length, by which the dust they sweepe 
And do continuall furrowes make, while on their breasts they creepe. 
Some lightly soaring up on high, with wings the wind doth smite, 
And through the longest ayery space, passe with an easie flight. 
Some by their paces to imprint the ground with steps delight, 
Which through the pleasant fieldes doe passe, or to the woods do goe, 
Whose sev'rall formes though to our eyes they do a difference shew, 
Yet by their lookes cast downe on earth their senses heavy grow. 
Men only with more stately shape to higher objects rise 
Who with erected bodies stand and doe the earth despise. 
These figures warne (if baser thoughts blind not thine earthly eies) 
That thou, who with an upright face dost looke upon the s kie, 
Shouldest also raise thy mind aloft, lest while thou bearest high 
Thy earthly head, thy soule opprest beneath thy body lye. 

Prose VI 
The concord o[ God's providence with [reewill is [ully explicated 

'C EEING therefore, as hath been shewed, all that is knowne, is not comprehended by his 
,',owne nature, but by the power of him, which comprehendeth it, let us see now, as 
'--*much as we may, what is the state of the divine substance that wee may also "know, 
what his knowledge is. Wherefore it is the common judgement of all that live by reason, 
that God is everlasting, and therefore let us consider what eternity is. For this will declare 



unto us both the Divine nature and knowledge. Etcrnitie is a perfect possession all to- 
gether of an endlesse fife, which is more manifest by the comparison of temporall things, 
for whatsoever liveth in time, that being present proceedeth from times past, to times to 
come and there is nothing placed in time, which can embrace all the space of this 
life at once. But he hath not yet attained to morrow, and hath lost yesterday. And 
you live no more in this day's life than in that moveable and transitory moment. 
Wherefore whatsoever suffereth the condition of time, although as Aristotle thought 
of the world, it never began, nor were ever to end, and his life did endure with 
infinite time, yet it is not such, that it ought to be called everlasting. For it doth not 
comprehend and embrace all the space of his life together, though it be infinite, 
but it hath not the future time which is yet to come. That then which compre- 
hendeth and possesseth the whole fullnesse of an endlesse life together, to which neither 
any part to come is absent, nor of that which is past, hath escaped, is worthely to bee ac- 
counted everlasting and this is necessary, that being no possession in it selfe, it may alway 
be present to it selfe, and have an infinity of moveable time present to it. Wherefore they 
are deceived, who heating that Plato thought, that this world had neither beginning of 
time, nor should ever have any end, thinke that by this meanes the created world should 
be coeternall with the creator. For it is one thing, to bee carried through an endlesse life, 
which Plato attributed to the world, another thing to embrace the whole presence of an 
endlesse life together, which is manifestly proper to the Divine mind. Neither ought God 
to seeme more ancient than things created by the quantity of time, but rather by the sim- 
plicity of his Divine nature. For that infinite motion of temporal things imitateth the 
present state of the unmoveable life, and since it cannot attaine nor equal it, it falleth 
from immobillitie to motion, and from the simplicity of presence, it decreaseth to an in- 
finite quantity of future and past and since it cannot possess together all the fulnesse of 
his fife, by never leaving to be in some sort, it seemeth to aemulate in part that which it 
cannot fully obtaine and expresse, tying it selfe to this small presence of this short and 
swift moment, which because it carrieth a certain image of that abiding presence, who- 
soever hath it, seemeth to be. But because it could not stay, it undertooke an infinite 
journey of time, and so it came to passe, that it continued that life by going, whose pleni- 
tude it could not comprehend by staying. Wherefore if wee will give things their tight 
names, following Plato, let us say that God is everlasting, and the world perpetuall. 
Wherefore since every judgement comprehendeth those things which are subject unto it, 
according to his owne nature, and God hath alway an everlasting and present state, his 
knowledge also surpassing all motion of time, remayneth in the simplicity of his presence, 
and comprehending the infinite spaces of that which is past and to come, confideth al 
things in his simple knowledge, as though they were now in doing. So that, if thou wilt 
weigh his foreknowledge, with which he discerneth all things, thou wilt more tightly es- 
teeme it to bee the knowledge of a never fading instant than a foreknowledge as of a thing 
to come. For which cause it is not called praevidence or foresight, but rather providence, 
because placed farre from inferiour things, it beholdeth all things as it were from the 



highest toppe of things. Why therefore wilt thou have those things necessary which are 
illustrated by the Divine light, since that men make not those things necessary which they 
see. For doth thy sight impose any necessity upon those things, which thou seest present ?' 
'No.' 'But the present instant of men may well bee compared to that of God in this; that as 
you see some things in your temporall instant, so he beholdeth all things in his eternall 
presence. Wherefore this divine foreknowledge doeth not change the nature and propriety 
of things, and it beholdeth them such in his presence, as they will after become to bee, 
neyther doth fee confound the judgement of things, and with one sight of his mind he 
discerneth as well those things which shall happen necessarily, as otherwise. As you when 
at one time you see a man wal -king upon earth, and the Sun rising in heaven, although 
they be both seene at once, yet you discerne, and judge that the one is voluntary, and the 
other necessary. So likewise the Divine sight beholding all things, disturbeth not the 
quafity of things, which to him are present, but in respect of time are yet to come..Mad 
so this is not an opinion, but rather a knowledge grounded upon truth, when he -know- 
eth that such a thing shall be, which fikewise he is not ignorant, that it hath no necessity 
of being. Here if thou sayest, that cannot chuse but happen, which God seeth shall hap- 
pen, and that, which cannot chuse but happen, must be of necessity, and so tyest me to this 
name of necessity, I will graunt that it is a most solide trueth, but whereof scarce any 
but a contemplator of Divinity is capable. For I will answere that the same thing is neces- 
sary, when it is referred to the divine knowledge; but when it is weighed in his owne nat- 
ure, that it seemeth altogether free and absolute. For there be two necessities; the one 
simple, as that it is necessary for all men to be mortall. The other conditionall, as if thou 
knowest that any man walketh, he must needes walk. For what a man knoweth, cannot bee 
otherwise than it is knoaae. But this conditionall draweth not ,4th it that simple or 
absolute necessity. For this is not caused by the nature of the thing, but by the adding a 
condition. For no necessity maketh him to goe, that goeth of his owne accord, although it 
bee necessary that he goeth, while he goeth. In like manner, if profidence seeth anything 
present, that must needes be, although it hath no necessity of nature. But God beholdeth 
those future things, which proceed from freewill, present. These things therefore beeing 
referred to the Divine sight are necessary by the condition of the difine knowledge, and 
considered by themselves, they lose not the absolute freedome of their own nature. "Vhere- 
fore doubtlesse all those things come to passe, which God foreknoweth shall come, but 
some of them proceede from freewill, which though they come to passe by being, .vet 
they loose not their owne nature, because before they come to passe, they might also not 
have happened. But what importeth it that they are not necessary, since that by reason 
of the condition of the divine knowledge, they come to passe in all respects as if they 
were necessary. It importeth this, that those things, which I proposed a little before, the 
Sunne rising, and the man going, while they are in doing, cannot chuse but bee in doing; 
yet one of them was necessary to bee, before it was, and the other not. Likewise those 
things, which God hath present, have doubtlesse a beeing, but some of them proceede 
from the necessity of things, other from the power of the doers. And therefore wee said not 

without cause, that these, if they bee referred to God's knowledge, are necessary; and if 
they bee considered by themselves, they are free from the bonds of necessity. As whatso- 
ever is manifest to senses, if thou referrest it to reason, is universal]; if thou considerest it in 
it selfe, singular or particular. But thou wilt say, it is in my power to change my pur- 
pose, shall I frustrate providence, if I chance to alter those things which he foreknoweth ? 
I answere that thou mayest indeede chaunge thy purpose but beecause the trueth of provi- 
dence beeing present seeth, that thou canst doe so, and whether thou wilt doe so or no, and 
what thou purposest anew, thou canst not avoyde the Divine foreknowledge; even as thou 
canst not avoyde the sight of an eye which is present although thou turnest thy selfe to 
divers actions by thy freewill. 
But yet thou wilt enquire whether God's knowledge shall bee chaunged by thy dis- 
position, so that when thou wilt now one thing and now another, it should also seeme to 
have divers knowlcdges. 1N'o. For God's sight preventeth all that is to come, and recalleth 
and draweth it to the presence of his owne knowledge; neither doth he vary, as thou 
imaginest, now knowing one thing and now another, but in one instant without moving 
preventeth and comprehendeth thy mutations. Which presence of comprehending, and 
seeing all things God hath not by the event of future things, but by his owne simplicity. By 
which that doubt is also resolved, which thou diddest put a little before, that it is an un- 
worthy thing that our future actions should be said to cause the knowledge of God. 
For this force of the divine knowledge, comprehending all things with a present notion, ap- 
pointeth to every thing his measure, and receiveth nothing from ensuing accidents. All 
which being so, the freewill of mortall men remayneth unviolated, neither are the lawes 
unjust, which propose punishments and rewards to our wills, which are free from all 
necessity. There remayneth also a beholder of all things, which is God, who foreseeth all 
things, and the eternity of his vision, which is always present, concurreth with the future 
quality of our actions, distributing rewards to the good, and punishments to the evill. 1qey- 
ther doe we in vaine put our hope in God, or pray to him, for if wee doe this well and as 
we ought, wee shall not loose our labour, or bee without effect. Wherefore flye vices, 
embrace vertues, possess your mindes with worthy hopes, offer up humble prayers to your 
highest Prince. There is, if you will not dissemble, a great necessity of doing well im- 
posed upon you, since you live 
in the sight of your judge, 
who beholdeth all 



This file was acquired from Arundel Centaur Press 1963, and it is in the public domain. It is re-distributed here as a part of the Alex Catalogue of Electronic Texts ( by Eric Lease Morgan (Infomotions, Inc.) for the purpose of freely sharing, distributing, and making available works of great literature. Its Infomotions unique identifier is consolationphilos00boetuoft, and it should be available from the following URL:

Infomotions, Inc.

Infomotions Man says, "Give back to the 'Net."