The Consolation of Philosophy as Cosmic Image

The Consolation of Philosophy as Cosmic Image

By Myra L. Uhlfelder †
2018 | 100 + xx pp. | 978-0-86698-527-7 | Hardcover 6 x 9 in
MRTS 474 | $52 |

In this study, Uhlfelder (recently deceased) argues convincingly that, in portraying his literary persona as an exemplum of man in  his quest for self-knowledge, Boethius has made the whole Consolatio a cosmic image representing man as microcosm. The mental faculties of sensus, imaginatio, ratio, and intellegentia are arranged as a proportion suggesting both Plato’s famous “divided line” at the end of Book 6 of the Republic and, at the same time, the four elements of the physical cosmos which, according to the Platonic Timaeus, are connected with one another so as to form a geometrical proportion. The philosophical argument of the Consolatio in books II through V comprises another cosmic image with III. M.9 at its exact center; in addition, the other three cosmic depictions, revolving as concentric circles around III. M.9, may be viewed as forming an image of cosmic order. In its structure, then, Boethius’ work is an anagogic eikon which formally depicts its content.