The Consolation of Philosophy

The Consolation of Philosophy Menippean Satire

The literary term "satire" has come to mean a work that mocks or attacks political or social mores, but satire in Boethius' day simply meant a work of literature which contained a variety of forms in its whole (verse, prose, dialogue, etc. - the Latin word satura meant, literally, "medley"). The form was named for the Greek Cynic philosopher Menippus, who wrote in the 3rd century BC. Originally Menippean satire was a term used to distinguish prose works from those in verse, but by Boethius' time it was a hybrid form in which sections of prose alternate with verse. The Consolation of Philosophy is not a satire in the way we use the word today, but is rather a work of philosophy written using apocalyptic dialogue (that is, dialogue with an imagined or spiritual being) interspersed with verse and prose.