(**In continuation from: 'Medieval Philosophy
Part - II On St Augustine'; on same page 3)
***PART – III***
MEDIEVAL PHILOSOPHY AFTER
We have seen the beginning of Medieval Philosophy,
Following the encounters between newly emergent
And its forerunners - Judaism and classical pagan
The early Church Fathers had tried their best, -
To make philosophical reasoning more compatible
But those earlier influences of Neo-platonism,
Gave rise to controversies and theological dualism;
Which resulted in a number of Church heresies;
And the Church had to combat them for the next
Following many lively debates and anti-heretical
And rulings by successive Ecumenical Councils, -
after many deliberations;
The doctrines of the Church finally took shape;
Which finally crystallized as the Christian faith!
Under Emperor Constantine-I (306-337AD) , -
Christianization of the Roman Empire had begun!
Theodosius-I had banned all pagan worship,
And Emperor Justinian in 529 AD, by closing Plato’s
Officially sealed the last refuge of Pagan Philosophy!
THE DARK AGES!
The period from 450 to 750 AD, generally known as
the Early Middle Ages,
Has also been called by some historians as the ‘Dark
A term created by Latin historian Francesco Petrarca
in 1330s as a stricture, -
Originally intended as a criticism of poor quality of
And the lack of contemporary written historic resource,
For proper evaluation of this period under discourse;
Led Petrarch to christen it as the ‘Dark Age’!
However, modern historians prefer to call it a ‘Period
of Transition’, -
Between the Classical and the High Middle Ages, -
To correct this earlier mistaken notion!
It was a period of great political instability,
With the Germanic tribes conquering the Roman
With people’s life at stake, there was less of
In 476 AD, Odovaker king of the Ostrogoths had
put an end to the Roman Empire,
And ruled for the next seventeen years entire!
The Vandals established themselves in Africa;
The Franks north of France, and the Visigoths in
And close on their heels came Attila the Hun!
But Pope Leo dissuaded Attila telling him to show
Reminding him that Alaric the Goth had died, -
after sacking the Holy City! !
Listening to the Pope, Attila withdrew;
But died the following year, which is also true!
And the scourge of the Huns was bid adieu!
PHILOSOPHY DURING THIS PERIOD:
Knowledge was now confined within the lay
monasteries and abbeys;
And after St Benedict streamlined the monastic
way of life, -
The monks began to train both administrators
and future churchmen alike!
But the Greek language was soon forgotten, -
And no one even remembered Plato or Aristotle!
As classical learning began to gradually wane;
And preservation of Greek philosophic tradition, -
Depended solely upon Greek to Latin translations!
Which brings us to the work of the Roman scholar
Whose translation of Aristotle’s logic, and his
‘Consolation of Philosophy’, had made him famous!
BOETHIUS (480 – 524 AD)
In 480 AD was born into the Roman aristocracy;
Orphaned soon after and raised by an adopting family!
He became well versed in philosophy and the classics;
Especially that of Plato, Aristotle and the Neo-platonics!
Rose to the position of ‘Master of Offices’ in the Western
Under Theodoric the Ostrogoth Emperor at Ravenna!
Roman aristocracy then was thoroughly Christianized;
And Boethius became involved in ecclesiastical dispute
of his time;
Centered around a schism between Latin and Greek
Later accused falsely of treason against Theodoric
the Arian King,
Was thrown inside the prison without any hearing!
His literary masterpiece ‘The Consolation of Philosophy’
was written in prison;
While waiting for his execution - charged with high
Finally executed in 542 AD as a martyr of Arian
In Pavia he is still regarded as a saint, though never
canonized after his execution!
Recognized as one of the most important intermediaries,
Between the Latin Middle Ages and ancient Greek
His Latin commentaries on the ‘Categories of Aristotle’,
And on the commentaries of ‘Isagoge’ of Porphyry,
Influenced the development of medieval logic,
doctrine and terminology!
These were referred by the Carolingian School and
the 12th century Schoolmen,
Till the translations of Aristotle was finally made
available to them!
Boethius also translated works on Euclid’s geometry,
Ptolemy’s astronomy, and works on arithmetic;
Not forgetting his own treaties on Greek music!
His expositions on the ‘universals’ and ‘God’s for-
Made the later scholars quote him and his wisdom
His Five Books ‘On the Consolation’, was an unique
masterpiece of medieval literature;
Let me now tell you something about its various
“CONSOLATION OF PHILOSOPHY”:
It was written during his last year in prison,
An unique prose work with verse interludes;
Between him and Lady Philosophy, personified
as Philosophy’s Muse!
The Muse consoles Boethius for his sudden fall
from grace, -
Cultivating Christian virtue would bring him true
She speaks about the transitory nature of fame
For these worldly things should never be sought;
Seek that ‘one true good of the mind’, the Muse
had taught, -
Through application of love and prayer to the God!
And this was also the philosophical message of the
Middle Ages too,
Which is echoed in the works of Chaucer, Anselm,
Dante and Milton, -
For they also expressed similar views!
From the Carolingian epoch to the Middle Ages -
‘The Consolation’ was the most widely copied
work of European secular literature;
Read by poets, theologians, historians and also by
It was also taught in the Universities by the Scholastics,
Along with Plato and Aristotle, as a part of Medieval
And in conclusion I must mention that the Middle Ages,
Was a difficult period politically, socially and
Yet they received much inward happiness by reading
‘The Consolation of Philosophy’!
Boethius remains as the last great philosopher with
And the first of the scholars of the new Scholastic Age!
(To be continued! Next being: 'Prelude to Scholastic
Philosophy') Thanks for reading, - Raj Nandy)
This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.I would like to translate this poem
Vivid and clear-cut presentation....your dedication should be applauded...I wish everybody in this site reads this work.. 'Boethius remains as the last great philosopher with Classical linkage, And the first of the scholars of the new Scholastic Age! '..see, how much one has to sacrifice towrds a goal....wonderful...thanks for all your comments Raj