The Consolation of Philosophy

The Inconstancy of Fortune: A Close Reading of Boethius Book II, Chapter II College

In Boethius’s The Consolation of Philosophy, Lady Philosophy comes to console Boethius, who is imprisoned for execution and despairing of his fate. After a discourse on her own nature, Lady Philosophy begins Book II by describing Fortune (classically known as the Lady Fortuna), through both poetry and prose, with vivid personification and persuasive argument. In the prose section of Chapter II of Book II, Boethius, through Lady Philosophy, artistically fabricates an indignant soliloquy from the mouth of Fortune to “mortal man” that eloquently puts forth several truths about the nature of Lady Fortuna. In this particular passage, Boethius admirably discourses on the character of Fortune, explicating her nature and presenting an effectual argument against placing one’s hope in Fortune and her assets by illuminating fortune’s inconstancy, the nature of earthly riches, and the absurdity of blaming Fortune.

Before analyzing the chapter in question, it is useful to examine the preceding and succeeding passages in order to understand the chapter’s function and the author’s intent. On a large scale, Book II concerns the nature of Fortune. Book I, preceding it, is Lady Philosophy’s “wake-up call,” to appropriate a colloquialism, to...

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