Summary of The Consolation of Philosophy

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The Consolation of Philosophy book summary


The next time you have a bad day and get mired in self-pity, think about Boethius. Born into a wealthy Roman family around 480 C.E., Boethius was a successful scholar and politician. Early in his career, he wrote influential treatises on Aristotle’s logic and Christian theology. He became a senator and found favor with the rulers of the Roman world, ultimately taking the highest post in the Western government (then located in Ravenna, rather than Rome). But his world fell apart when his king, Theoderic, charged him with treason. Confined to his house and awaiting a particularly gruesome execution (you don’t want to know), Boethius comforted himself with philosophical reflection. Working partly in verse and partly in prose, as translated by P.G. Walsh, Boethius crafted a long dialogue with the goddess Philosophy, who slowly convinces him that happiness based on worldly things is fleeting and false, and that true happiness can come only from knowledge of God and his goodness. getAbstract is glad to offer a look at this classic work, which inspired people from Dante to C.S. Lewis, even in their darkest hours.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How a sixth century Roman named Boethius learned to accept a cruel fate;
  • How this philosopher reconciles God’s foreknowledge and human free will; and
  • Why whatever happens to you, however horrible, is part of God’s plan for the universe.

About the Authors

Boethius was a Christian philosopher of the 6th century. Translator P.G. Walsh is professor emeritus of humanity at the University of Glasgow.



Book 1
Boethius is under arrest for treason and confined to his chamber, ruminating on his miserable situation. He has tried to take refuge in poetry as various poetic muses have appeared in his room to inspire him. Suddenly, another apparition appears, a female figure Boethius doesn’t...

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