The Consolation of Philosophy


All men are of one kindred stock, though scattered far and wide;

For one is Father of us all--one doth for all provide.

He gave the sun his golden beams, the moon her silver horn;

He set mankind upon the earth, as stars the heavens adorn.

He shut a soul--a heaven-born soul--within the body's frame;

The noble origin he gave each mortal wight may claim.

Why boast ye, then, so loud of race and high ancestral line?

If ye behold your being's source, and God's supreme design,

None is degenerate, none base, unless by taint of sin

And cherished vice he foully stain his heavenly origin.


'Then, what shall I say of the pleasures of the body? The lust thereof is full of uneasiness; the sating, of repentance. What sicknesses, what intolerable pains, are they wont to bring on the bodies of those who enjoy them--the fruits of iniquity, as it were! Now, what sweetness the stimulus of pleasure may have I do not know. But that the issues of pleasure are painful everyone may understand who chooses to recall the memory of his own fleshly lusts. Nay, if these can make happiness, there is no reason why the beasts also should not be happy, since all their efforts are eagerly set upon satisfying the bodily wants. I know, indeed, that the sweetness of wife and children should be right comely, yet only too true to nature is what was said of one--that he found in his sons his tormentors. And how galling such a contingency would be, I must needs put thee in mind, since thou hast never in any wise suffered such experiences, nor art thou now under any uneasiness. In such a case, I agree with my servant Euripides, who said that a man without children was fortunate in his misfortune.'[H]


[H] Paley translates the lines in Euripides' 'Andromache': 'They [the childless] are indeed spared from much pain and sorrow, but their supposed happiness is after all but wretchedness.' Euripides' meaning is therefore really just the reverse of that which Boethius makes it. See Euripides, 'Andromache,' Il. 418-420.