Boethius. 1957. "The Second Edition of the Commentaries on the Isagoge of Porphyry, (Book I)." In Selections From Medieval
Philosophers (I): Augustine to Albert the Great, edited by McKeon, Richard 70-99. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.
Translation of In Isagoge, 1.1-12.
"The selection which follows, the First Book of the second Commentaries on the Isagoge, illustrates the temper and
interest, no less than the importance, of Boethius. The entire Book is commentary on not more than a page of text from Porphyry, and a good two-thirds of it is
developing and enforcing in full detail a remark of his concerning the utility of the study of logic. The remaining part is devoted to a
-- and startlingly cautious -- discussion of the problem of the universal. As in the case of the defense of logic, the discussion grows out
of a remark by Porphyry -- his refusal to discuss in an introductory work questions concerning the possible existence of genera and species outside our mind;
concerning their nature, corporeal or incorporeal; and their relations to sensible objects. To answer such problems in any detail would be to develop an entire
philosophy. Particularly, it would necessitate a choice between Plato and Aristotle as Boethius conceived and stated them.
Boethius, none the less, with reservations and for reasons which he carefully states, undertakes the discussion of the basic notions of the
problem. The later development of scholastic philosophy is based, significantly, upon these questions. It is needless of course to say, as has frequently been
said, that Boethius introduced the question to the middle ages and set the twelfth century to discussing the universal: the problem is to be found in
Augustine, and it would be difficult to proceed far in philosophy without encountering it. Yet it is striking that most usually the discussion was introduced
in twelfth century writings by a reference to Boethius and to his translation of the questions of Porphyry."
"It was as a logician that the middle ages chiefly esteemed Boethius, sometimes to the extreme of preferring him to Aristotle in translation.
Although that preference yielded to others, at least Boethius was for centuries the principal source of aristotelianism in the
west. This contribution alone must be estimated considerable, if one remember the despair of Cicero at the rendering of philosophy in the
latin language; in the time of Boethius latin had already become a supple philosophic language, and for good or ill many of the
terms of later philosophical discussions in it were originated by him." (Richard McKeon, pp. 67-69)
———. 1994. "From His Second Commentary to Porphyry's Isagoge." In Five Texts on the Mediaeval Problem of Universals. Porphyry,
Boethius, Abelard, Duns Scotus, Ockham, edited by Spade, Paul Vincent, 20-25. Indianapolis: Hackett.
The passage from Boethius’s Second Commentary on Porphyry is from Book I, Chs. 10-11, of the Brandt edition (159.3-167.20).
———. 1984. "Second Commentary to De interpretatione." In Aristotle's Theory of Language and Its Tradition. Texts from 500 to
1750, edited by Arens, Hans, 159-204. Amsterdam: Benjamins.
Selection, translation and commentary by Hans Arens.
Contents of the volume: Preface 1; 1. The extraordinary fate of Peri hermeneias 6; 2. Aristotle's text 16; 3. Commentary to
Aristotle 24; 4. Ammonius: Commentary 58; 5. Commentary to Ammonius 124; 6. Boethius: Commentary 159; 7. Commentary to Boethius 205; 8. Abaelard:
Glosses 231; 9. Commentary to Abaelard 303; 10. Albertus Magnus: Paraphrase 339; 11. Commentary to Albert 376; 12. Thomas Aquinas:
Expositio 397; 13. Commentary to Thomas 434; 14. Martinus de Dacia: Quaestiones 458; 15. Commentary to Martin 471; 16. Johannes a S.Thoma:
Ars logica 484; 17. Commentary to John of St.Thomas 507; 18. James Harris, an Aristotelian of the 18th century 514; References 523; Concordance 527;
Index of Persons 530.
The text translated is: Commentaries to Aristotle's Peri hermeneias Second edition Book I (pp. 159-204); followed by a Commentary by
Hans Arens, pp. 205-230.
———. 2010. Boethius: On Aristotle On Interpretation 1-3. London: Duckworth.
Translated by Andrew Smith.
Contents: Conventions VII; Textual Emendations VIII; Introduction 1; Translator's Note 11; Translation. Book 1 15; Book 2 57; Book 3 115;
Notes 151; Select Bibliography 157; English-Latin Glossary 159; Latin-English Index 160; Index of Names 162; Subject Index 164-166.
"Boethius’ second and larger commentary on Aristotle’s On Interpretation was written in Latin in the early sixth century AD in the
style of Greek commentaries on Aristotle. Both commentaries were part of his project to bring to the Latin-speaking world knowledge of Plato and Aristotle. His
project was for comprehensive translation of them and for adaptation of the Greek commentaries on them. The project was cruelly interrupted by his execution at
the age of about 45 between 524 and 526 AD, leaving the Latin world under-informed about Greek Philosophy for 700 years, although his commentary on Aristotle’s
On Interpretation remained the standard introduction throughout the Latin Middle Ages.
Aristotle’s On Interpretation.
In the first six chapters of his On Interpretation Aristotle defines name, verb, sentence, statement, affirmation and negation. This
has standardly been seen as a progression beyond the subject of his Categories, which distinguishes single terms. For On Interpretation
already studies the complexity of a statement, and it can be seen as pointing forward to the treatment in his Analytics of syllogistic arguments,
which combine three statements, two of them premisses and one a conclusion. But C.W.A. Whitaker has argued that what turns out to interest Aristotle from
Chapter 7 onwards is contradictory or contrary pairs of statements, and that these contradictory or contrary pairs relate rather to the practice of dialectical
refutation discussed in Aristotle’s other logical works, the Topics and Sophistici Elenchi. (1)"
In Chapters 8 to 10, Aristotle examines exceptions to the rule that in contradictory or contrary pairs one statement will be false and the
other true. Chapter 11 addresses some puzzles about complex assertions, Chapters 12 to 13 consider pairs of statements involving possibility and necessity,
while the last chapter, 14, discusses beliefs that are contrary." ( Introduction by Richard Sorabji, p. 1)
(1) C.W.A. Whitaker, aristotle's De Intepretatione, Contradiction and Dialectic, Oxford 1996.
———. 2011. Boethius: On Aristotle On Interpretation 4-6. London: Bristol Classical Press.
Translated by Andrew Smith.
Contents: Conventions VII; Textual Emendations VIII; Introduction 1; Translator's Note 11; Translation. Book 4 15; Book 5 60; Book 6 100;
Notes 141; Select Bibliography 145; English-Latin Glossary 147; Latin-English Index 148; Index of Names 150; Subject Index 151.
———. 1998. On Determinism. Ammonius On Aristotle On Interpretation 9 with Boethius On Aristotle On Interpretation 9 First and Second
Commentaries. London: Duckworth.
Ammonius translated by David Blank; Boethius translated by Norman Kretzmann.
With essays by Richard Sorabji, Norman Kretzmann and Mario Mignucci.
Contents: Richard Sorabji: Preface VII; Acknowledgements VIII; I. Introduction. 1. Richard Sorabji: The three deterministic argumenta opposed
by Ammonius 3; 2. Richard Sorabji: Boethius, Ammonius and their different Greek backgrounds 16; 3. Norman Kretzmann: Boethius and the truth about tomorrow's
sea battle 24; 4. Mario Mignucci: Ammonius’ sea battle 53; Π. Translations. Textual Emendations 89; Ammonius On Aristotle On Interpretation 9
translated by David Blank 91; Notes 118; Boethius On Aristotle On Interpretation 9 (first commentary) 129; Boethius On Aristotle On Interpretation
9 (second commentary) translated by Norman Kretzmann 146; Notes 187; Bibliography 193; English-Greek Glossary 197; Greek~English Index 200; English-Latin
Latin-English Index 210; Subject Index 213-216.
"This is a volume on determinism. It contains the two most important commentaries on the determinist’s sea battle argument, and on other
deterministic arguments besides. It includes the earliest full exposition of the Reaper argument for determinism, and a discussion of whether there can be
changeless knowledge of the passage of time. It contains the two fullest expositions of the idea that it is not truth, but only definite truth, that would
Ammonius and Boethius both wrote commentaries on Aristotle’s On Interpretation and on its ninth chapter where Aristotle discusses
the sea battle.Their comments are crucial, for Ammonius’ commentary influenced the Islamic Middle Ages, while that of Boethius was of equal importance to
medieval Latin-speaking philosophers.
It was once argued that Boethius was influenced by Ammonius, but these translations are published together in this volume to enable the
reader to see clearly that this was not the case. Ammonius draws on the fourth- and fifth-century Neoplatonists Iamblichus, Syrianus and Proclus.
He arranges his argument around three major deterministic arguments and is our main source for one of them, the Reaper argument, which has
hitherto received insufficient attention. Boethius, on the other hand, draws on controversies from 300 years earlier between Stoics and Aristotelians as
recorded by Alexander of Aphrodisias and Porphyry.
Ammonius’ commentary on the first eight chapters of Aristotle’s On Interpretation has appeared in a previously published volume in
this series, translated by David Blank." ( Preface by Richard Sorabji)
Thörnqvist, Christina Thomsen. 2008. Anicii Manlii Severini Boethii De syllogismo categorico. Gothenburg: University of
Critical edition with introduction, translation, notes, and indexes by Christina Thomsen Thörnqvist.
Contents: Preface X; Editions cited XIII; Introduction. I. The author, the work, and its sources. 1. The author XV; 2. The work and its
sources XVIII; 3. The interrelation and the titles of the two monographs on the categorical syllogism XXIX; II. Boethius’ monographs on the categorical
syllogism in the Middle Ages XLI; III. The edition. 1. The textual tradition LIII; 2. Editorial principles LXXIII; 3. The apparatus fontium and notes LXXIV;
De syllogismo categorico 1; Translation 102; Notes 158; Appendix: Selected variant readings in the younger manuscripts 177; Bibliography 194; Word
index 199; Index of passages 218; General index 226.
Abstract. "The Roman statesman and philosopher Anicius Manlius Seuerinus Boethius (c. 480-c. 525) translated and wrote commentaries on most
of Aristotle’s logical works. In addition, he wrote several treatises on logic, including two monographs on the categorical syllogism, which are commonly known
as De syllogismo categorico and Introductio ad syllogismos categoricos. The present study is the first critical edition of the former.
De syllogismo categorico divides into two books of which the first is an account of the categorical proposition and the second deals
with the categorical syllogism. The ultimate sources are Aristotle’s Peri hermeneias and Analytica priora, but certain dispositional,
terminological, and doctrinological features show that the text is heavily influenced by the tradition of the Greek commentators.
From the rediscovery of Boethius’ logical writings in the 10th century until the mid-12th century, Aristotle’s doctrine of the categorical
syllogism was known chiefly through Boethius’ De syllogismo categorico. The influence by as well as on the work is discussed in the introduction to
the present study.
The reconstitution of the text rests on collation of 47 manuscripts dating from the 10th to the 15th century. An analysis of the
interrelation of the manuscripts leads to the conclusion that all extant manuscripts descend from a common archetype but that the tradition is severely
contaminated and cannot be described by means of a stemma codicum. The text is primarily based on the sixteen earliest text witnesses, among which a
formal hierarchy is established. The Latin text is presented with a critical apparatus, an apparatus fontium, an English translation, notes, and indexes.
Selected variant readings in the later manuscripts are reported in an appendix."
Boethius. 1988. In Ciceronis Topica. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
Translated, with notes and an introduction by Eleonore Stump.
Contents: Acknowledgments IX; Abbreviations XI; Introduction 1; In Ciceronis Topica: Book I 21; Introduction: The Purpose of Topics
22; The Nature of Logic 25; The Nature of Topics 29; The Division of Topics 36; Book II 49; Introduction: The Nature of Related Things 50; The Topic from
related things 55; An Extrinsic Topic 72; Book III 75; Introduction: The Relationship of Topics to the Thing at Issue 75; Definition 84; Book IV 105; Partition
106; Designation 108; Related Things 110; Book V 132; Introduction: The Nature and Sorts of Conditional Propositions 133; The Seven Stoic Modes of Hypothetical
Syllogism 135; Causes 154; Book VI 167; Introduction: Review of The Nature of Topics 168; Causes 169; Effects and Comparison 171; The Division of Topics 176;
The Extrinsic Topic 179; Notes to the Translation. Book I 185; Book II 194; Book III 205; Book IV 214; Book V 224; Book VI 240; Appendix: Categories and
Predicables 244; Selected Bibliography 256; Indexes 265-277.
"Boethius's In Ciceronis Topica is one of two treatises Boethius wrote on the subject of the Topics or loci. The other
treatise is De top. diff., (11) one of the last philosophical works he composed.(12) Together these two treatises present Boethius's theory of the art
of discovering arguments, a theory that was enormously influential in the history of medieval logic. (13) De top. diff. is a fairly short treatise,
but it is Boethius's advanced book on the subject; it is written in a concise, even crabbed style, and it clearly presupposes acquaintance with the subject
matter. In contrast, ICT is Boethius's elementary treatise on the Topics. It was written shortly before De top. diff. (14) and is a commentary on
Cicero's Topica, though it is a much larger and more comprehensive work than the Topica; it is more than twice as long as the more tightly
knit De top. diff." (p. 4)
According to Boethius, who is dependent on both the Greek and Latin traditions, (22) two different sorts of things are Topics: a Topic is
both a maximal proposition and the Differentia (23) of a maximal proposition. On Boethius's view, a maximal proposition is a self-evidently true, universal
generalization, such as 'Things whose definitions are different are themselves also different.' Boethian Topics of this sort probably have as their ancestors
the Aristotelian Topics that are principles. Their official function, on Boethius's account, is to aid in the discovery of arguments, but in practice Boethius
tends to use them to confirm arguments. (24) Differentiae are theoretically the differentiae dividing the genus maximal proposition into its subaltern
genera and species, and in that capacity they serve to classify maximal propositions into groups. Some maximal propositions have to do with definition, for
example, and other with genus; so from definition and from genus are Differentiae. Much more importent, however, is the role Differentiae play in Boethius's
method for the discovery of dialectical arguments. For the most part, Boethius thinks of dialectical arguments as having categorical rather than conditional
conclusions, and he conceives of the discovery of an argument as the discovery of a middle term capable of linking the two terms of the desired conclusion.
Boethian Differentiae are, for the most part, the genera of such middle terms. (In those cases where the arguments are hypothetical rather than categorical,
Boethius generally but not invariably thinks of Topics as validating the conditional proposition in the argument.) To find an argument using Boethius's method,
one first chooses an appropriate Differentia (criteria for appropriateness are left to the arguer's intuition). The genus of middle terms, determined by the
Differentia chosen, and the two terms of the desired conclusion then indicate the specific middle term of the argument and so indicate a dialectical argument
supporting the conclusion." (pp. 4-6)
(11) An edition of this text can be found in J.-P. Migne, patrologia Latina (PL), vol. LXIV (Turnhout: Brepols: n.d.), 1174-1216.
For a translation and notes, see Stump 1978.
(12) de Rijk, "On the Chronology of Boethius' Works on Logic. Part II", Vivarium, 2, 1964: 159-160.
(13) See Stump 1978, and idem, "Topics: Their Development and Absorption into Consequences," in Norman Kretmann et al. eds., The
Cambridge History of Later Medieval Philosophy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982), pp. 273-299. See also Niels J. Green-Pedersen, The
Tradition of the Topics in the Middle Ages (Munich: Philosophia Verlag, 1984).
(14) de Rijk 1964: 159-161.
(22) For a summary of the controversy over Boethius's sources, see Stump "Boethius Works on the Topics", Boethius Works on the Topics"
Vivarium, 12, 1974, 77-93.
(23) I am capitalizing 'Differentia' here to distinguish this technical use of the word from its more ordinary use designating one of the
(24) For a detailed analysis of Boethius's use and understanding of Topics, see Stump 1978, especially pp. 179-204.
[For a modern edition of Cicero's Topica, see: Cicero's Topica, Edited with an Introduction, Translation, and Commentary by
Tobias Reinhardt, New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.]
———. 1978. De topicis differentiis. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
Translated, with notes and essays on the text, by Eleonore Stump.
Contents: Abbreviations 11; Introduction 13; Part One. De topicis differentiis. Book I 29; Book II 43; Book III 63; Book IV 79;
Notes to the Translation. Book I 97; Book II 110; Book III 128; Book IV 141; Part Two. Dialectic in Ancient and Medieval Logic. Dialectic and Aristotle's
Topics 159; Dialectic and Boethius's De topicis differentiis 179; Between Aristotle and Boethius 205; Peter of Spain on the Topics 215; Differentia
and the Porphyrian Tree 237; Differentia 248; Bibliography 263; Indexes 275-287.
"This book is a philosophical study of Boethius's treatise De topicis differentiis. It includes the first English translation of
this historically and philosophically important text, as well as copious notes designed to make the text accessible to philosophers and scholars interested in
the medieval period. Detailed philosophical analyses of the text and of important technical concepts, such as the concept of the predicables, are worked out in
the chapters of Part II. Chapters on Aristotle's Topics and the treatise on dialectic in Peter of Spain's Tractatus explain the work of these
philosophers on the Topics and explore the relationship of their views to those of Boethius. My principal aim is to make Boethius's treatise available and
comprehensible to scholars for whom the technical Latin vocabulary and unfamiliar subject matter have made it inaccessible." ( Preface, p. 7)
"Boethius's De topicis differentiis is concerned with the discovery of arguments. As there is a method for judging or evaluating
arguments (what we call 'logic'), so, Boethius thinks, there is also a method for finding arguments. The method varies somewhat, depending on whether the
arguments sought will be used in rhetoric for legal or political speeches or in dialectic for philosophical inquiry. Most of Boethius's attention is given to
the method as used in dialectic, but the fourth and last Book of the treatise examines the method as used in rhetoric and compares it with that used in
Whether the method for finding arguments is rhetorical or dialectical, its main instrument is something called a Topic (in Latin, 'locus').
'Topic' is the standard English translation for the Greek 'τόπος' (the Aristotelian counterpart of 'locus'), which means, literally, a place or area. A certain
sort of Topic that plays a role in the ancient methods for memorization antedates and is probably the source for the kind of Topic used in discovering
arguments. In the art of memorizing, a Topic is a place, in the literal sense, which the memorizer pictures in his mind and from which he recalls what he wants
to remember. He familiarizes himself with some large edifice in which a number of places are picked out as the τόποι to aid memory, and these places are fixed
in the memory in their actual order of occurrence in the edifice. Then the speech, or whatever is being memorized, is divided into parts, and a vivid image is
associated with each of the parts. The memorizer pictures these images put into the places of the edifice in their appropriate order. When he is delivering his
speech, he imagines himself walking through the edifice, going from place to place, and finding in each place the image he put there. Each image reminds him of
a certain part of his speech; and in this way he uses the τόποι to recall the entire speech, part by part, in order. (7)" pp. 15-16)
" De top. diff. is Boethius's definitive work on the Topics. In it he considers two different sets of dialectical Topics, one of
which he finds in Cicero's Topica and the other of which stems from the Greek commentator Themistius (ca. 320-390); and he attempts to reconcile the
two sets of dialectical Topics. He also discusses rhetorical Topics, and he concludes the treatise by comparing rhetorical and dialectical Topics to make their
similarities and differences clear. Because it is an advanced work with a broad scope of material, De top. diff. does not devote much attention to the
way in which a Topic functions to find an argument. One is likelier to find such discussion in the more elementary In Ciceronis Topica. Instead, in
De top. diff. Boethius contents himself with describing the various Topics and giving examples using each, with a minimum of explanation about the
basic method. In the chapter on Boethius, I have explained what I think his technique for finding arguments is and how it works." (p. 17)
(7) Cf. Frances Yates, The Art of Memory (London, 1966); Frances Yates, 'The Ciceronian Art of Memory," Medioevo e
rinascimento (Florence, 1955), II, 871-903; Harry Caplan, tr., Rhetorica ad Herennium (Cambridge, Mass., 1954); and Richard Sorabji,
Aristotle on Memory (London, 1972).
———. 1988. "On Division." In Logic and Philosophy of Language, edited by Kretzmann, Norman and Stump, Eleonore, 11-38. Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press.
The Cambridge Translations of Medieval Philosophical Texts. Vol 1.
"De divisione was probably written sometime between 505 and 509. It is a study of different sorts of division - e.g., the division of a genus
into its species or the division of a whole into its integral parts - an important part of the logical heritage on which the scholastic period built. Boethius
investigates the way in which these various divisions are distinguished from one another and the logical relations between whatever is being divided (or
analyzed, or classified) and its dividing elements. For example, he points out that a genus is naturally prior to its species but a whole is naturally
posterior to its integral parts; if a genus is destroyed, so are all its species, but if a whole is destroyed, some of its integral parts may remain. A large
part of the treatise is devoted to the division of genus into species, in connection with which Boethius deals extensively with the predicables (genus,
species, definition, differentia, proprium, and accident), their interrelationships, and the way they combine to form a Porphyrian tree." (pp. 11-12)
———. 1998. De Divisione Liber. Leiden: Brill.
Critical edition, translation, prolegomena and commentary by John Magee.
Contents: Acknowledgements IX; Abbreviations XI; Boethian Editions Cited XIII; Prolegomena XV; Date of De divisione XVII; Boethius, Porphyry,
and Andronicus XXXIV; Textual Tradition of De divisione LVIII; De divisione 1; Commentary 53; Appendix: Elenchus Lectionum Singularium
Selectarum 171; Bibliography 177; Word Index 187; Index of Passages 200; General Index 222-224.
Date of composition: "All things considered, the period between 515 and 520 seems a safe surmise." (p. XXXIII)
"Like all of Boethius' writings, De divisione looks both back to Antiquity and ahead to the Middle Ages. (1) It was copied with
great frequency for use in the medieval schools, the MSS in which it is preserved being outnumbered only, among Boethius’ works, by those of De
differentiis topicis and the Consolatio. And in addition to the commentaries of Peter Abelard, Albert the Great, and Antonius Andreae, there is a
wealth of glossed MSS, florilegia, and indirect evidence to suggest that De divisione proved of enduring interest to medieval students from the later
tenth century on. This would have pleased Boethius, who in the proem evinces particular concern for the utilitas of the treatise in the context of the
Latin-speaking world. As for Antiquity, there is an important lost tradition underlying De divisione. More precisely, in the proem and conclusion
Boethius mentions two works which are otherwise completely unattested: a “book” on diaeresis by Andronicus of Rhodes (1st c. BC) (2) and a “commentary” on
Plato’s Sophist by Porphyry (b. AD 232/3). (3) The lost ancient tradition is the concern of the present discussion, and I begin with the relevant
passages. In the proem and conclusion Boethius indicates:
(1) that Andronicus published a book on diaeresis, in which he (Andronicus) remarked (a) that diaeresis is a method of great utility and (b)
that the Peripatos (before Andronicus) had always held the method in high esteem: Quam magnos studiosis afferat fructus scientia diuidendi quamque apud
Penpateticam disciplinam semper haec fient in honore notitia, docet et Andronici diligentissimi senis De diuisione liber editus (4,3ff.);
(2) that Plotinus approved of or recommended Andronicus’ book: et hic idem a Plotino grauissimo philosopho comprobatus (4,5f.);
(3) that Porphyry (consequently) adapted Andronicus’ book for his commentary on Plato’s Sophist: et in Platonis librì qui Sophistes
inscrìbitur commentariis a Porphyrio repetitus (4,6f.);
(4) that the later Peripatos (a) distinguished between diaeresis in the essential and incidental senses and (b) made subdivisions of
each: Posterior quidem Peripateticae secta prudentiae differentias diuisionum diligentissima ratione perspexit et per se diuisionem ab ea quae est secundum
accidens ipsasque inter se disiunxit atque distribuii (48,26ff.);
(5) that, by contrast, the earlier Peripatetics indiscriminately employed accidents in place of genera, species, and differentiae:
antiquiores autem indifferenter et accidente pro genere et accidentibus pro speciebus aut differentiis utebantur (50,1 f.); and
(6) that the promiscuous “earlier” usage drove Boethius to explain how the various kinds of division are (a) similar to and (b) different
from one another: unde nobis peropportuna utilitas uisa est et commumones harum diuisionum prodere et eas propriis differentiis disgregare (50,2ff.)."
(1) The following is based on my “Boethius ... and Andronicus;” points of detail are treated in the commentary.
(2) The complicated issues of Andronicus’ precise dates and scholarchship I pass over here. One may consult, among others, Moraux,
Aristotelismus I 45fF., with Tarân’s review, esp. 73 Iff., and Gottschalk, “Commentators” 55ff.
(3) A. Smith, (ed.) Porphyry Philosophi Fragmenta xf., and “Studies” 750, treats the “bulk” of Dio. as a Porphyrian
fragment (169F). Although preferable to treating it as an Andronicean one, this entails complications of its own.
Ancient Commentaries on Boethius’ De divisione:
- Pietro Abelardo, Scritti filosofici: Editio super Porphyrium - Glossae in Categorias - Super Aristotelem De Interpretatione - De
divisionibus - Super Topica glossae. Edited by Mario Dal Pra. Rome-Milan 1954, pp. 155-203.
- B. Alberti Magni Ord. Praed. commentarii in librum Boethii De divisione: Editio prìnceps. Edited by Fr. P.M. von Loë, O.P. Bonn
- Robert Kilwardby’s Writings on the Logica Vetus Studied with Regard to Their Teaching and Method. Edited by P.O. Lewry, O.P.
(unpublished Dissertation), Oxford 1978, pp. 408-12.
- Antonij Andree super artem veterem. Scripts: seu Expositiones Antonij Andree super artem veterem: et super Boetium de divisionibus: cum
questionibus eiusdem. Venice 1517. Fols. 89vb-103b.
———. 1983. Boethian Number Theory. Amsterdam: Rodopi.
Translation, with introduction and notes, of the De institutione arithmetica by Michael Masi.
Contents: Preface 9; Boethian Number Theory 11; The Iconography of the Liberal Arts and the Boethian Arithmetic 13; Boethian Number Theory
and Music 23; Arithmetic Proportion and the Medieval Cathedral 31; Medieval Literature andf the Theory of Number 39; De Institutione Arithmetica:
Commentaries and Derivative Works 49; Manuscripts Containing the De Institutione Arithmetica 58; A View of Bethius' Life and Works 64; Boethius, to
Symmachus, his Lord, the Patrician 66; Boethius, De Institutione Arithmetica 71; Bibliography 189-197.
"The consistency, even into the Renaissance, of the Liberal Arts curriculum, (1) its essentially mathematical nature, its influence beyond
the quadrivium on music theory and practice, and its bearing on the nature of aesthetics (2) are all revelant to the basic concepts outlined in
Boethius’ De Institutione Arithmetica. Not only does the name of Boethius appear repeatedly in discussions of proportions and harmony, but numerous
manuscripts and publications of his works and commentaries on the De Institutione Arithmetica continued with undiminished, even increased, vigor into
the sixteenth century.
Before I present an outline of this scope of influence, the distinction between practical and theoretical mathematics should be clarified in
order to help avoid a common misunderstanding. The modem meaning of arithmetic conveys nothing of what it meant for Boethius. The difference between
arithemetic (Αριθμητική ) and logistics ( Λογιστική ) was the same for Boethius as it was for the Greeks who originally defined it. (3) Both disciplines deal
with numbers, but arithmetic designates the theory or philosophy of number, only after the Middle Ages did the term designate an elementary discipline of
counting and calculation. The process whereby one undertook the solution of practical problems of computation was known to the Greeks and to Boethius as
logistics and to the Middle
Ages as algorism. (4)
The nature and scope of number theory is adequately explained in the first chapter of the De Institutione Arithmetica -- it is
essentially a preparatory study for philosophy. As such, among the Neo-Pythagoreans, it had a fundamentally moral character and bespoke the order of the world
in its most basic terms. The expression of this order was eventually, in the other disciplines of the quadrivium, expanded into musical terminology
where it acquired the dimension of harmony; in the study of geometry, it was extended to plane surfaces and solid figures. In astronomy, the geometric
measurements and the metaphor of harmony found their widest applications in the definition of the order of the universe and in the supreme model of concord,
the music of the spheres.
To demonstrate within the limits of this introduction the pervasiveness of Boethius’ treatise on the study of number theory, its importance
as a preparatory study for music, and the bearing of number theory on architecture, literature, and moral philosophy, I have organized my discussion under five
headings. With each I have provided adequate bibliography so that those interested in particular applications of this number theory may pursue and test the
application of principles in the De Institutione Arithmetica to other disciplines. The five headings are: (I) The Iconography of the Liberal Arts;
(II) the De Institutione Arithmetica and the De Institutione Musica in the theoretical writings of later musicologists; (III) Arithmetic
proportion and architecture; (IV) Literary extensions of the Theory of Number; (V) Commentaries, derivative studies, and extant manuscripts." (pp. 11-12)
(1) Trivium: grammar, rhetoric, logic; Quadrivium: arithmetic, music, geometry, astronomy.
(2) See various chapters in E. de Bruyne Études d'esthetique médiévale (Bruges, De Tempel, 1946).
(3) See Sir Thomas Heath, A History of Greek Mathematics (Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1921), Vol. I, pp. 13-16.
(4) See Nicomachus of Gerasa, Introduction to Arithmetic, trans. Martin Luther D'ooge, intro. Frank E. Robbins and L.C. Karpinski
(New York), Macmillan,1926, pp. 3-4; Plato, Gorgias Sec. 451C; Theatetus, Sec. 145A, 198A. For the Middle Ages, see A.C. Crombie,
Medieval and Early Modem Science (New York, Anchor Books, 1959), Vol. I, pp. 50-51.
Palisca, Claude, ed. 1989. Boethius. Fundamentals of Music. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Translated, with introduction and notes by Calvin M. Bower.
Contents: Preface by Series Editor Claude V. Palisca XIII; Translator's Preface XVII; Introductio XIX-XLIV; Book 1 1; Book 2 52; Book 3 88;
Book 4 115; Book 5 162; Appendix 1: Chapters 20-30 of Book 5 181; Appendix 2: Notes on the Text of the Spartan Decree 185; Appendix 3: Notes on the Diagrams
and their Sources 189; Index 197-205.
"Shortly after the turn of the sixth century a young Roman patrician began to record in Latin the sources and background of his exceptional
Greek education. Although it is uncertain that he ever studied in Athens or Alexandria, those fifth-century centers of liberal learning and philosophy
fundamentally shaped his thinking, even to the extent of determining his literary and pedagogical objectives. He would lay a scientific foundation by writing
on four mathematical disciplines—the quadrivium as he collectively called them. Thereafter he would translate and comment on the Organon of Aristotle
and, building on the mathematical disciplines and Aristotelian logic, would finally approach the philosophical writings of Plato and Aristotle and the world of
In this context, Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius (480-524) wrote the treatise entitled De institutione musica, one of his
earliest works, probably around the middle of the first decade of the sixth century. It was intended to be read along with the De institutione
arithmetica and may have been one of four works setting out the foundations of Platonic scientific education: arithmetic, music, geometry, and astronomy.
None of the mathematical works—or even the logical works—was considered original by Boethius or his contemporaries. Boethius’s early works record in Latin what
he was reading in Greek. Reading, translating, writing, and commenting formed an integrated process through which Boethius appropriated for his culture works
that not only were unknown but that in most cases surpassed the superficial dabblings in science and logic from the golden and silver ages of Roman
civilization. Scholars such as Marius Victorinus und Apuleius of Madaura had produced scientific translations for Latin readers of the fourth and fifth
centuries, but Boethius carried the genre to new levels of rigor and thoroughness. Written for a cultural elite already initiated into philosophical
literature, Boethius's mathematical and logical works represent one of the most notable projects in intellectual history of preserving and transmitting a
corpus of knowledge from one culture to another. (2)
No evidence has been found that Boethius’s mathematical works were read between his short lifetime and the ninth century. But when liberal
learning saw a rebirth in the Carolingian era, Boethius’s treatises on arithmetic and music reappeared as authoritative works on these disciplines, rivaled
only by Martianus Capella’s De nuptiis Philologiae et Mercurii. (3) When a tradition of independent musical treatises began in the ninth century,
Boethius’s treatise became the unique source for the thorough mathematical underpinning of Western musical theory. It is ironic that this work intended as an
approach to logic and philosophy would essentially shape the most illiberal of the liberal arts. (4)" (pp. XIX-XX)
"An overview of the structure of the five extant books should assist the reader in placing the musical details of the treatise in
perspective. Book 1 forms a self-contained introduction to the discipline, whereas books 2 and 3 present mathematical demonstrations of propositions introduced
in book 1. Book 4 applies the mathematical principles developed in books 2 and 3 to the monochord and presents the theory of modes. Finally, book 5 introduces
the reader to the mathematical and musical subtleties of Ptolemy." (p. XXIX)
(1) For a thorough study of Boethius’s life, see Henry Chadwick, Boethius: The Consolations of Music, Logic, Theology, and
Philosophy (Oxford, 1981), pp. 1-68. Also informative is John Matthews, “Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius,” in Boethius: His Life, Thought and
Influence, ed. Margaret Gibson (Oxford, 1981), pp. 15-43.
(2) Concerning the complex question of Boethius’s literary precursors and his audience, see Helen Kirkby, “The Scholar and his Public,” in
Boethius: His Life, Thought and Influence, pp. 44-69.
(3) See Martianus Capella, ed. Adolf Dick, with addenda by Jean Préaux (Stuttgart, 1969); also Martianus Capella and the Seven
Liberal Arts, vol. 1, William Harris Stahl, The Quadrivium of Martianus Capella, Latin Translations in the Mathematical Sciences, 50
B.C.-A.D. 1250, and Richard Johnson with E. L. Burge, A Study of the Allegory and the Verbal Disciplines (New York and London, 1971); vol. 2,
The Marriage of Philology and Mercury, trans. W. H. Stahl and R. Johnson with E. L. Burge (New York, 1977).
(4) For the tradition of Boethius’s treatise in the early Middle Ages, see Calvin M. Bower, “The Role of Boethius’ De institutione musica in
the Speculative Tradition of Western Musical Thought,” in Boethius and the Liberal Arts: A Collection of Essays, ed. Michael Masi, Utah Studies in
Literature and Linguistics 18 (Bern, Frankfurt, and Las Vegas, 1981), pp. 157-74; and Alison White, “Boethius in the Medieval Quadrivium,” in Boethius: His
Life, Thought and Influence, pp. 162-205.
Boethius. 1973. The Theological Tractates and the Consolation of Philosophy: Text and Translations. London: Heinemann.
The Loeb Classical Library; new edition; Latin text and English translation.
The Theological Tractates translated by H. F. Stewart, E. K. Rand and S. J. Tester; The Consolation of Philosophy
translated by S. J. Tester.
Contents: Note on the Text VII; Introduction IX; Bibliography XV; The Theological Tractates 2; The Consolation of
Philosophy 128; Symmachi versus 412; Index 415-420.
"A seventeenth-century translation of the Consolatio philosophiae is here presented with such alterations as are demanded by a
better text, and the requirements of modem scholarship. There was, indeed, not much to do, for the rendering is most exact. This in a translation of that date
is not a little remarkable. We look for fine English and poetry in an Elizabethan; but we do not often get from him such loyalty to the original as is here
Of the author “ I. T.” nothing is known. He may have been John Thorie, a Fleming born in London in 1568, and a B.A. of Christ Church, 1586.
Thorie “ was a person well skilled in certain tongues, and a noted poet of his times ” (Wood, Athenae Oxon. ed. Bliss, I. 624), but his known
translations are apparently all from the Spanish. (a)
Our translator dedicates his “ Five books of Philosophical Comfort” to the Dowager Countess of Dorset, widow of Thomas Sackville, who was
part author of A Mirror for Magistrates and Gorboduc, and who, we learn from I. T's preface, meditated a similar work. I. T. does not unduly flatter
his patroness, and he tells her plainly that she will not understand the philosophy of the book, though the theological and practical parts may be within her
The Opuscula Sacra have never before, to our knowledge, been translated. In reading and rendering them we have been greatly helped
by two mediaeval commentaries: one by John the Scot (edited by E. K. Rand in Traube’s Quellen und Untersuchungen, vol. I. pt. 2, Munich, 1906); the
other by Gilbert de la Porrée (printed in Migne, P.L. LXIV.)."
(a) Mr. G. Bayley Poison suggests with greater probability that I. T. was John Thorpe (fl. 1570-1610), architect to Thomas Sackville, Karl of
Dorset. Cf. American Journal of Philology, vol. XIII. (1921), p. 266.
———. 1991. "De hebdomadibus." In Being and Goodness. The Concept of the Good in Metaphysics and Philosophical Theology, edited by
MacDonald, Scott, 299-304. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
Translation by Scott MacDonald.
"The Latin texts are Boethius 1978a and Peiper 1871. The line numbers from Rand’s text are given in angle brackets in the text of the
translation. In preparing this translation, I have consulted the translations of Stewart, Rand, and Tester in Boethius 1978a, Boethius 1981, and de Rijk’s
suggestions for translating the axioms in de Rijk 1987." (p. 299)
Boethius 1978a. The Theological Tractates and the Consolation of Philosophy: Text and Translations. Ed. and trans. H. F. Stewart, E.
K. Rand, and S. J. Tester. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
Boethius 1981. “How Are Substances Good Insofar as They Exist, Since They Are Not Substantial Goods? ( De hebdomadibus) (Preliminary
draft). Trans. Paul Vincent Spade. Translation Clearing House, Department of Philosophy, Oklahoma State University.
Boethius 1871. Anicii Manlii Severini Boetii Philosophiae Consolationis Atque Opuscula Sacra. Ed. Rudolph Peiper. Leipzig:
Rijk, L. M. de. 1987. “On Boethius’ Notion of Being: A Chapter in Boethian Semantics.” In Meaning and Inference in Medieval Philosophy:
Studies in Memory of Jan Pinborg, ed. Norman Kretzmann. Dordrecht: Kluwer.
———. 1999. The Consolation of Philosophy. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Translated with introduction and explanatory notes by Patrick Gerard Walsh.
"This is an appropriate time to launch a new translation of The Consolation of Philosophy. In the past few years there has been a
significant revival of interest in Boethius; this has been marked by several studies which have partially restored him to the prominence which he enjoyed for
over a millennium from the Carolingian age onwards. My rendering, with its accompanying Introduction and annotation, has sought to exploit these important
The translation is based on Ludwig Bieler’s admirable edition in the Corpus Christianorum series. The annotations have benefited
conspicuously from the notable commentary of J. Gruber. Henry Chadwick’s general study of Boethius, and the volume of essays edited by the late-lamented
Margaret Gibson entitled Boethius, his Life, Thought, and Influence, have furnished much of the information on which the Introduction is based. My
debts to Gerard O’Daly’s The Poetry of Boethius for interpretation of the verses, and to R. W. Sharpies’ edition of the taxing philosophical content
of Books 4-5, will be obvious from the frequent citations in the notes. Details of these works are presented in the Select Bibliography." (from the
"Summary of the Treatise.
Book 1. As the prisoner grieves over his downfall and impending fate, Lady Philosophy appears before him. Initially he fails to recognize
her, but once recognition dawns he pours out to her his resentment at the iniquity of Fortune. His devoted public service has ended in his condemnation; the
order evident in the world of nature does not extend to the just treatment of humankind. Philosophy diagnoses his ailment; blinded by vicious emotions, he has
forgotten how the world is ordered. She promises initially a gentler cure.
Book 2. Lady Philosophy denounces the prisoner’s bitter indictment of Fortune, against whom he has no real complaint. Fortune herself is
invoked to justify her ways with men. Hitherto she has favoured him, and the inconstancy she now shows is at one with the similar pattern in nature. Philosophy
insists that his present life has its material consolations, but true happiness is not to be sought in them. She reviews the worldly goods to which men aspire,
and successively rejects wealth, ambition for high position, and the pursuit of fame as avenues to happiness. Fortune benefits man more when adverse than when
Book 3. Before explaining where true happiness is to be found, Lady Philosophy reiterates that the quests for riches, high position, and
fame, and additionally physical pleasure, are defective ways of seeking the true good. The true avenue is reversion to our beginnings. The prisoner’s former
wealth, the tenure of public office, the kingship under which he has served, the desire for fame, the pursuit of bodily pleasure, the reliance on physical
strength and beauty are all false goods which fail to attain sensation, imagination, reason, and understanding; these correspond with the four levels of
existence, namely immobile life, that of the lower animals, the human, and the divine. The reconciliation between Providence and free will is achieved at the
fourth level of divine understanding. God’s knowledge is always in the present, not in the future or past. Though from the divine aspect all future events will
be necessary, in their own nature some will be necessary but others freely chosen. In this sense the freedom of the will remains intact."
———. 2001. The Consolation of Philosophy. Indianapolis: Hackett.
Translated, with introduction and notes, by Joel C. Relihan.
"Principles of translation.
Latin poetry does not rhyme; its rhythms, far more complex than those of English, are not related to the accents of the words themselves but
to the succession of long and short syllables; that is to say, they depend upon the length of time that it takes to pronounce each syllable. The music of Latin
poetry is accordingly quite polyphonic; sometimes word accent agrees with verse accent, and sometimes conflicts with it. Within this rhythmic environment is
found a highly artificial poetic language: The great Latin poets (Vergil, Horace, Ovid) did not just write memorable works in verse but, for each writer who
came after them, offered new solutions to the old problem of how to fit the Latin language into the shapes of Greek verse. Consequently, every Latin poem is a
mosaic of phrases learned from earlier poems; the reading of any Latin poem is a complicated intertextual game, as even a lone word in a given place in a line
of a certain rhythm may evoke associations with an earlier poem that then becomes part of the context in which the new poem is meant to be read.
There are thirty-nine poems in Consolation, written in a wide range of meters and combinations of meters. The poetic nature of the
text cannot be ignored; only Satyricon and Martianus Capella’s Marriage come close to the richness of its mixture of prose and verse. No
English translation of a Latin poem can hope to mirror the music of these Latin originals, or the complexities of their associations with the whole of Latin
literature. That is for specialists; students curious to see Boethius the poet in his workshop, adapting the themes and language of his originals, may be
referred to the study of O’Daly, [ Poetry of Boethius, Chapel Hill and London, The University of North Carolian Press] 1991. What I have done here,
and what has not been done before in the long history of translation of
Consolation into English, is reproduce through English accents the rhythms and meters of the original poems. I have thought it
important to do so in order to make the reader stop and take the poems seriously; there is a tendency to take the poems as mere metrical restatements of the
arguments of the preceding prose sections. I would claim that in fact the poems often shift the focus of arguments, or redirect them in surprising ways; the
reader needs to linger on them. The rhythms of the Latin will for the most part not be familiar; I have included accent marks to show where the stresses should
fall, and have added in the notes to each poem a brief discussion of the meter and its associations. The reader needs to know only that the stress marks are
intended to have their Latin force: That is, they show where the syllables should be dragged out a bit, pronounced more slowly, given more time. (1) It is
possible for other English accents to be heard against this background, and I flatter myself in thinking that the resulting synthesis of these two competing
rhythms, while not the equivalent of the Latin complexity, makes a worthy music of its own.
The language of poetry is not the language of prose. I have tried to represent the prose speeches of the participants in this dialogue with
full respect for what may be called their pedanticisms and niceties: And so it is for this very reason that . . . ; it cannot in any way be doubted . . . ; I
see that that is indeed the logical consequence. . . . Consolation tells of the worlds of God and of mortals, of timeless reality and physical things,
and I have not tried to substitute, as would be the standard translation practice, more elegant English abstract nouns for these crucial “things". " (pp.
(1) Stress marks fall on the second element of a diphthong (e.g., eách). When on the first element, they help suggest a polysyllabic
pronunciation (e.g., concéaled is trisyllabic at IV.m.5.9.).
(2) For example, IV.6.9: “Should one look at the force of these two terms in one’s own mind, it will appear quite easily that they are
different; for Providence is the divine reason itself, established in the highest ruler of all things, which arranges all things; Fate is the arrangement that
inheres in the things that have motion, the arrangement through which Providence weaves all things together in their proper orders.” In the verse sections,
necessities of meter at times force me to exploit a fuller range of translation options.
Sharples, Robert W., ed. 1991. Cicero: On Fate (De fato): & Boethius: The Consolation of Philosophy (Philosophiae consolationis) IV.
5-7, V. Warminster, England: Aris & Phillips.
Contents: Preface VI; Note on abbreviations IX; Introduction. 1. Cicero and the Latin reception of Greek philosophy 1; 2. The place of On
fate among Cicero’s philosophical works 3; 3. The freewill problem before Cicero; 3.1 Causation 6; 3.2 Future truth and possibility 11; 4. Cicero’s
treatise On Fate: plan and sources; 4.1 The plan of the work 16; 4.2 Cicero’s sources 20; 5. An evaluation of Cicero’s treatise 23; 6. The influence
of Cicero’s treatise 24; 7. Divine foreknowledge from Cicero to Boethius 25; 8. Fate and providence 29; 9. The problem of evil 31; 10. Boethius’ life and works
34; 11. The Consolation of Philosophy 37; 12. The sources and arguments of IV.5-7) and V 41; 13. The Consolation and Christianity 46; 14. The
influence of the Consolation of Philosophy 48;
14. On the texts 49; Sigla 51; Text and translation: Cicero, On fate 52; Appendix: Parallel texts 92; Boethius, Consolation of
Philosophy IV.5-7 and V 102; Commentary: Cicero, On fate 159; Appendix: Parallel texts 196; Excursus: Terminology for Causes 198; Boethius,
Consolation of Philosophy IV.5-7 and V 202; Select Bibliography 233; Index 241-244.
"The two texts considered here are linked by more than one common feature. They are examples of the writings of the two men who did more to
communicate Greek philosophy to the Latin-speaking West than anyone else in antiquity, with the possible exceptions of Augustine and (in one particular field)
Lucretius. They are works which reflect two very different branches of the tradition that goes back to Plato, or to Plato’s Socrates. Cicero writes as a
follower of the sceptical New Academy, which derived its readiness to challenge dogmatic positions from Socrates even if its belief that certainty is
impossible was not one he would have shared; Boethius’ Consolation is in the tradition of the revived dogmatic Platonism of the Imperial period, a
Platonism that welcomed, and made use of, ideas from Aristotle as well as from Plato. They are works of philosophy written by two men each of whom played a
part in the public life of their times - and paid with their own lives for doing so; though there is the difference that Boethius’ Consolation of
Philosophy was written when its author was already under sentence of death, while Cicero’s On Fate was written in haste as its author was
planning the return to the political arena that was ultimately to be his downfall. Above all, however - and this is the justification for uniting the two
texts, or rather one fragmentary text and one partial extract, in this single volume - they represent two stages in a story, the story of man’s attempt to
understand whether he is or is not in control of his own destiny; this story in one guise or another pervades the literature of antiquity, and is not finished
That said, there are also great differences between the two texts. Cicero’s treatise On Fate survives in fragmentary form only; we
may have about two-thirds of the whole text, but it lacks its beginning and its end, and there are major gaps which seriously affect our interpretation of the
whole. Questions concerning the literary form and structure of the treatise as originally composed, of Cicero’s sources and of philosophical interpretation are
here all closely intertwined with one another, giving this work a particular fascination over and above that of the subject-matter itself; but, while it has
been extensively quarried for technical discussions, and extensive extracts have been included in source-books, English readers have been poorly served until
now as far as the availability in a single volume of a reliable continuous text and translation is concerned.
The situation with Boethius’ Consolation could hardly be more different. It is one of the major works of world literature; the work
that - along perhaps with Augustine’s City of God - marks the boundary between ancient and medieval thought; a work which profoundly influenced the
thought of the Middle Ages; a work translated into English by, among others, Alfred the Great, Chaucer, and Elizabeth the First. It is a daunting prospect to
write about such a work, a work moreover that can be approached from many different perspectives: its relation to earlier Latin literature both in prose and in
poetry, its relation to Boethius’ philosophical interests on the one hand and his Christian beliefs on the other, its influence on later thought and
literature. In a book of the present size it would scarcely be possible to do justice to all these perspectives; given the reason for including Cicero and
Boethius together in this book in the first place, I hope that my comments may at least be helpful for those who wish to consider the part of the
Consolation here included as a stage in a particular philosophical debate.
That, too, must be the justification for violating Boethius’ design by including only a part of the whole, even though it is the final part
and culmination. I can only hope that those who read the end of the work here will want to go on and read what precedes. Boethius does mark a new stage in the
discussion by Philosophy’s observation that “You summon me to a matter which involves the greatest enquiry of all"; the reason for including the end of book 4
as well as book 5 is that it introduces the question of how fortune and freedom are to be reconciled with the divine providence which has formed the topic of
the discussion since 3.12." ( Preface, VI-VII).