Boethius De Differentiis Topics For Essays

  • Ashworth, Earline Jennifer. 1989. "Boethius on Topics, Conditionals and Argument-Forms." History and Philosophy of Logic no. 10:213-225.

    "Eleonore Stump’s splendid translation of Boethius's In Ciceronis Topica (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1988) is a very welcome companion to her earlier translation of Boethius's De topicis differentiis (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1978). Together the iwo volumes provide us with a hitherto unequalled opportunity to come to grips with the logical work of an author whose influence on medieval and Renaissance developments in this field was surpassed only by Aristotle himself. Indeed, it was only because of Boethius, his translations and commentaries, that Aristotle was first transmitted to the Latin speaking West. The importance of Boethius's work on the Topics is not purely historical, for it offers us a valuable insight into a type of logic which is aimed not at the production of formal languages or the examination of valid inference forms, but at ways to produce belief in the context of debate and against a background of straightforwardly metaphysical doctrines.

    In this essay review I shall first make some general remarks about the nature of Topics-logic, with particular reference to In Ciceronis Topica . I shall then explore just one Topic, that of incompatibles, which is a particularly interesting Topic for several reasons. First. Boethius's attempt to define incompatibles shows the limitations of any formal approach to the material in hand. Second, Boethius's use of the Topic casts considerable light on his view of conditionals and their basis in metaphysical features of the world. Third, the examination of these issues helps explain Boethius's interpretation of certain key argument forms and their relation to Stoic logic. Finally, I shall make some remarks about Stump’s translation and notes." (p. 213)

  • Asztalos, Monika. 1993. "Boethius as a Transmitter of Greek Logic to the Latin West: the Categories ." Harvard Studies in Classical Philology no. 95:367-407.

    " purpose in this paper is to bring out what these commentaries, and especially the ones on the Isagoge and the Categories , reveal about Boethius’ working methods in his earliest works on Greek logic. I intend to deal less with the end product than with the road to it, and to point to the stages of development and improvement exhibited within these early works." (p. 367)


    "Boethius devoted his first effort in Greek philosophy to Porphyry’s Isagoge , and later, in the year of his consulate (510), when he was in all likelihood in his late twenties, he spent all his spare time commenting for the first time on a work by Aristotle, the Categories . Ever since Samuel Brandt attempted a chronology of Boethius’ works on the basis of their internal references, it has been commonly held that when Boethius began commenting on the Categories , he had already written both his expositions of Porphyry’s Isagoge (hereafter Isag. 1 and Isag. 2 ), the first one a dialogue in two books based on Marius Victorinus’ apparently incomplete Latin version, the second a five book commentary on his own, complete translation. (2) This is certainly not the place for a full discussion of the chronology of Boethius’ works, but for the arguments of this paper it is necessary to establish the order between Isag. 2 and the commentary on the Categories (CC)." (p. 368)


    "... I am not in a position to judge whether or not Boethius displays real originality in his later, more mature works. But I think that it would be unfair to expect novel interpretations in commentaries like the Isag. 1 and CC, which, if my assumptions in the first sections of this paper are correct, are not only the earliest of Boethius’ works on Greek philosophy but also the context in which he first encountered Aristotle. He seems to have come quite unprepared to both the Isagoge and the Categories , unarmed with proper translations and unfamiliar with the work he was commenting on. Boethius is indeed an epitome of the expression docendo discimus ." (p. 407)

    (2) 2 S. Brandt, “Entstehungszeit und zeitliche Folge der Werke von Boethius,” Philologus 62 (1903), 141-154 and 234-275. See also pp. XXVI-XXIX of the Prolegomena to Anicii Manlii Severini Boethii In Isagogen Porphyrii commenta , rec. S. Brandt, Corpus

    Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum 48, Wien/Leipzig, 1906. In his “ Stylistic Tests and the Chronology of the Works of Boethius,” Harvard Studies in Classical Philology 18 (1907), 123-156, A. P. McKinley’s conclusions concerning the chronology of Isag. 7 ,

    Isag. 2, and the commentary on the Categories (hereafter CC) are the same as Brandt’s.

    McKinley studied the frequency of certain particles in these commentaries as well as in Boethius’ translations of the Isagoge and Categories , assuming that Boethius’ language was influenced by his translations of Porphyry and Aristotle. Now, some of McKinley’s data corroborate Brandt’s chronology whereas others support the one I will suggest below. Furthermore, McKinley’s tests were made before the appearance of L. MinioPaluello’s critical editions of Boethius’ translations in the Aristoteles Latinus and would therefore have to be remade. I also believe that a necessary preliminary stage in examining whether Boethius’ translating activities influenced his choice of particles is to compare his Latin commentaries with the extant Greek sources. Since there is no adequate source apparatus in any of the editions of Boethius’ commentaries, this would mean a great deal of work. Concerning the question whether Boethius wrote Isag. 2 before or after CC, L. M. De Rijk follows Brandt’s view on pp. 125-127 of “On the chronology of Boethius’ works on logic,” Vivarium 2 (1964), 1-9 and 125-162, on exactly the same grounds as the ones on which Brandt based his conclusions and without corroborating them further.

  • ———. 2003. "Boethius on the Categories ." In Boèce ou la chaîne des savoirs , edited by Galonnier, Alain, 195-205. Louvain-Paris: Éditions Peeters.

    "Among Boethius’ commentaries on Greek works on logic (that is to say, on Porphyry’s Eisagoge and on Aristotle’s Categories and Peri hermeneias ), only the one on the Categories has so far not been critically edited. At present I am editing the text and at the same time preparing an English translation of it to appear in Ancient Commentators on Aristotle . (1) So far only translations of Greek commentaries have appeared in this series, and consequently the fact that Boethius’ work on the Categories will be included is a statement about his heavy dependence on Greek sources. It is of course a well-known fact that all Boethius’ commentaries on Aristotle’s works are heavily dependent on Greek Neoplatonic interpretations. However, the extent to which this is true has so far not been revealed in the form of a source apparatus accompanying the texts edited. In the case of the commentaries on the Peri hermeneias , the two volumes of which appeared in 1877 and 1880 respectively, the editor did not have access to a modern edition of the extensive commentary by Ammonius which has since appeared in Commentaria in Aristotelem Graeca. (2) But for an editor of Boethius’ commentary on the Categories the work is easier: first of all, there are a number of Greek commentaries on this work that have been edited in CAG. In addition, those by Porphyry, Dexippus, and Ammonius have appeared in commented translations in Ancient Commentators on Aristotle .

    So, while in the process of editing Boethius’ work on the Categories , I have provided the text with an apparatus indicating parallels in the Greek commentaries. A great deal of work has already been done in order to map out the nature and extent of Boethius’ dependence on the Greeks in this particular work of his. There is Bidez’ groundbreaking article “Boèce et Porphyre”, where Porphyry’s little commentary on the Categories in the form of questions and answers (3) is described as “la source unique, ou a peu près unique, du commentaire de Boèce” (p. 195); James Shier's provocative papers presenting Boethius as a translator of scholia that he allegedly found in the margins of his copy of Aristotle, some of them originating from the school of Proclus but the majority taken from Q&A ; Sten Ebbesen’s article on Boethius as an Aristotelian scholar, in which Q&A is described as Boethius’ main source, a source from which he deviated when he wished to avoid introducing Neoplatonic entities such as the Eternal Mind into his own elementary work; a contribution of my own in which I claim that Boethius used Q&A but also a commentary on the Categories written by a follower and occasional critic of Iamblichus; and the valuable footnotes to Steven Strange’s English translation of Q&A with their references to Boethius’ commentary. (4) What all these different studies have in common is that they consider Porphyry’s Q&A to be Boethius’ main source.

    So, one may justifyibly ask, is there anything really new to be said about Boethius’ use of the Greek sources in his commentary on the Categories ? The purpose of this paper is to show that while putting together a source apparatus for Boethius’ text I have come to the conclusion that our view of Boethius’ dependence on Porphyry needs to be modified. (5)" (pp. 195-196)


    "To conclude: Boethius naturally used Porphyry’s extant little dialogue on the Categories . But his main source is a later Greek commentary that makes use of Iamblichus’ commentary but whose author takes an uncompromisingly Aristotelian stance. Since Iamblichus made ample use of Porphyry’s no longer extant Ad Gedalium , the influence of Porphyry is quite heavy on Boethius’ commentary. When the two sources (Q&A and the later commentary) expressed different views, for example on the scope of the Categories , Boethius did not bother to try to harmonize between the two. In that respect, he is not a full-fledged scholastic in his commentary on the Categories , which is an early work of his, at least not as full-fledged as he was to become later, when he wrote the Consolation of philosophy ." (pp. 204-205)

    (1) General editor: Richard Sorabji.

    (2) Anicii Manlii Severini Boetii commentarii in librum Aristotelis PEPI EPMHNEIAS , rec. Carolus Meiser, I-II, Leipzig, 1877, 1880. Ammonius, In Aristotelis De interpretatione commentarius , ed. A. Busse, Commentaria in Aristotelem Graeca (=CAG) IV:5, Berlin, 1897.

    (3) Porphyrii in Aristotelis Categorias expositio per interrogationem et responsionem , ed. A. Busse, CAG IV: 1, Berlin, 1887. This work is henceforth referred to as Q&A .

    (4) J. Bidez, “Boèce et Porphyre”, Revue belge de philologie et d’histoire , 2, [1923] ρ. 189-201. J. Shiel, “Boethius’ commentaries on Aristotle”, Mediaeval and Renaissance Studies , 4, 1958, p. 217-244; Boethius . Ed. by M. Fuhrmann and J. Gruber. Darmstadt, 1984, p. 155-183; Aristotle transformed. The ancient commentators and their influence . Ed. by R. Sorabji. London, 1990, p. 349-372. S. Ebbesen, “Boethius as an Aristotelian Scholar” in Aristoteles, Werk und Wirkung, Ραμί Moraux gewidmet . Bd II. Ed. J. Wiesner. Berlin-New York, 1987, p. 286-311. M. Asztalos, “Boethius as a Transmitter of Greek Logic to the Latin West: the Categories”, Harvard Studies in Classical Philology , 95, 1993, p. 367-407. Porphyry, On Aristotle Categories . Translated by S. K. Strange. London, 1992.

    (5) I wish to thank Börje Bydén, Göteborg University, for his valuable comments on this paper.

  • ———. 2014. "Nomen and Vocabulum in Boethius’s Theory of Predication." In Boethius as a Paradigm of Late Ancient Thought , edited by Kirchner, Andreas, Jürgasch, Thomas and Böhm, Thomas, 31-52. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.

    "Anyone who tries to make sense of Boethius’s commentary on Aristotle’s Categories will be intrigued by his use of the terms nomen and uocabulum . Sometimes it is clear that he cannot be using the terms to refer to names (in our sense of the word) and words, but then how does he use them? They may appear to be interchangeable, (1) but there is a difference in how Boethius uses these terms, and it is important to establish what the difference is, given that they are essential in Boethius’s theory of predication. Then there is a cluster of verbs — uocare, nominare, nuncupare —which are clearly connected with uocabulum and nomen , but how? The purpose of this paper is to present Boethius’s thoughts on predication by exploring the way he uses these key terms.

    I will be quoting extensively from my own forthcoming edition of Boethius’s commentary on the Categories . I have not given references to the text printed in Migne’s Patrologia Latina vol. 64 but have specified which lines in Aristotle’s text the passages quoted comment on. This will make it fairly easy for readers to find the appropriate places in the Migne edition. All translations are my own.

    In Boethius’s commentary on Aristotle’s Categories , nomina and uocabula are couched in a theory involving also res, uox, significare, significatio, and designare .

    These are main protagonists in Boethius’s commentaries on the De interpretatione , a work in which nomina and uocabula take the back seat." (p. 31)


    "Does Boethius’s use of uocabulum and nomen make him a paradigm of Late Ancient thought? In the case of nomen as a term for a mental collection of things he could to a certain extent lean on tradition, given that the word is commonly used for a collection like a family or a people in classical Latin. Furthermore, it cannot be ruled out that Aristotle uses ὄνομα in the same way. But what about uocabulum and its connection with uox and uocare ? Only a study of earlier Latin texts can confirm that Boethius has introduced a new tool in the theory of predication. And it remains to be investigated whether or not medieval philosophers appreciated the value of the tool and employed it in their own discussions of predication." (p. 50)

    (1) In her recent book Boethius on Mind, Grammar and Logic. A Study of Boethius’ Commentaries on Peri hermeneias, (= Philosophia antiqua; 127), Leiden/Boston 2012, Taki Suto holds: “Even though there may be some difference in Boethius’ usage of these two expressions, the difference is slight, and he may not differentiate between them.” (p. 68, note 109).

  • Barnes, Jonathan. 1981. "Boethius and the Study of Logic." In Boethius: His Life, Thought and Influence , edited by Gibson, Margaret, 73-89. Oxford: Blackwell.

    Reprinted in J. Barnes, Logical Matters. Essays in Ancient Philosophy II , New York: Oxford University Press, Chapter 26, pp. 666-682.

    "Boethius’ logical oeuvre contains works of three types. First, and at the centre, there are the Latin translations of the Greek texts: Boethius put into Latin the Categories , the de Interpretatione , the Prior and Posterior Analytics , (5) the Topics , the Sophistici Elenchi; and he prefaced his Latin Organon with a version of Porphyry’s Isagoge , the standard Greek introduction to Peripatetic philosophy. (6) Secondly, there are the commentaries: Boethius planned commentaries on the Isagoge and on each book of the Organon , and he added, as a supplement, a commentary on Cicero's Topics. (7) The commentaries on Aristotle's Topics and Analytics have not survived; and some scholars doubt if Boethius lived to complete his commentatorial task. (8) Thirdly, there are the treatises: On Division covered much of the ground tilled in the Categories ; On Categorical Syllogisms and the unfinished Introduction to Categorical Syllogisms correspond in part to the de Interpretatione and the Prior Analytics ; On Hypothetical Syllogisms has no counterpart in Aristotle’s works, but answers to a fixed feature of later Peripatetic logic; On Topical Differences matches Aristotle’s Topics . (9)

    Thus on three distinct levels Boethius translated Peripatetic logic from Greece to Rome. His achievement is remarkable by any reckoning; and his work in logic stands as a paradigm of sustained and systematic scholarship. The next three sections will discuss separately the translations, the commentaries, and the treatises; but it should not be forgotten that, for Boethius, those three types of scholarly production were complementary parts of a unitary whole." (pp. 74-75)


    "What, then, was Boethius’ contribution to the study of logic?

    First, Boethius was not an original logician: he did not pretend to be. He saw himself as a translator, conveying Greek wisdom to a Greekless world; the insights which his works contain are not his own, his knowledge is tralaticious. From time to time we can, I believe, hear Boethius’ own voice; and some at least of the disposition and organisation of his material originated in his own head. But those touches of personality are relatively rare and relatively unimportant: the summa logicae which Boethius determined to present was traditional Peripatetic logic; and it is an error to speak of a Boethian logic.

    Secondly, it must be admitted that today we owe little to Boethius’ immense labours. He strove to transmit Aristotle to the West; but our present knowledge of Aristotle depends hardly at all on his strivings. Aristotle’s texts, and the texts of his Greek commentators, have survived in their original Greek: we can study Peripatetic logic, as Boethius himself did, in the original sources. Had all Boethius’ logical writings been lost, ihr modern student of logic would have little to bewail, apart perhaps from the treatment of hypothetical syllogistic.

    It is rather within the context of his own dark times that Boethius’ service to logic must be sought. Greek learning was increasingly inaccessible, and the Latin world was rude. By his sole efforts Boethius ensured that the study of Aristotle’s Organon , and with it the discipline of logic, was not altogether eclipsed in the West. Boethius’ labours gave logic half a millenium of life: what logician could say as much as that for his work? what logician could desire to say more?" (pp. 84-85)

    (5) The translation of the Posterior Analytics has not survived; but see AL [Aristoteles Latinus ], IV. 1-4, pp. XII-XV.

    (6) For the status of the Isagoge see in Isag ed 1. 14-5. Boethius regarded the Organon , prefaced by the Isagoge , as a unitary — but not a fully comprehensive — treatment of logic.

    (7) At first blush, the commentary on Cicero seems anomalous; but in fact Cicero presents his Topics as a version indeed, a translation — of Aristotle’s Topics , and Boethius regarded Cicero’s work as forming an integral part of Peripatetic logic (in Cic Top 271-3).

    (8) (i) Topics : Boethius states categorically that he has written a commentary (Top diff 1191 A, 1209 C, 1216 D). Nothing is known to have survived.

    (ii) Prior Analytics : we possess only preliminary notes (published in AL , III. 1-4) ; at Syll cat 829D Boethius says that he will comment on the Analytics , but he nowhere asserts that he has composed such a commentary.

    (iii) Posterior Analytics : a note to a thirteenth-century commentary on the Sophistici Elenchi quotes from ‘Boethius’ commentary on Book I of the Posterior Analytics ': see S. Ebbesen, ‘Manlius Boethius on Aristotle’s Analytica Posteriora , CIMAGL IX (1973), 68-9. If we believe the note, then — contrary to orthodox opinion — Boethius did write such a commentary.

    (9) The dating of Boethius’ logical works is to some extent conjectural: see the long discussion of L. M. de Rijk, 'On the chronology of Boethius’ works on logic’, Vivarium II (1964), 1-49, 125-62. His first opus was in Isag ed 1, composed in 504/5; he was probably working on Intr syll cat and in An Pr in 523; in Cat is dated to 510. There is not much awry with the following ordering: in Isag ed 1; Syll cat ; Div ; trans Isag ; in Isag ed 2; trans Cat ; in Cat ; trans de Int ; in Int ed ι; in Int ed 2; trans Top ; trans Soph El , Syll hyp , in Top ; in Cic Top ; trans An ; Top diff ; Intr syll cat ; in An Pr .

  • Belli, Margherita. 2014. "Boethius, disciple of Aristotle and master of theological method: The term indemonstrabilis ." In Boethius as a Paradigm of Late Ancient Thought , edited by Kirchner, Andreas, Jürgasch, Thomas and Böhm, Thomas, 53-82. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.

    "Indemonstrabilis . This term belongs to the Late Latin language and is a legacy of Aristotle’s logic, especially of the Analytica posteriora . It can be considered, therefore, a useful tool to focus on three aspects of the deep and wide knowledge of the Aristotelian logic, which contributes to making Boethius a unique figure among the Late Ancient authors of the Latin West and the leading guide of the so-called boethiana aetas . The three aspects entail:

    a) the relationship between Boethius and the Author of the Peri hermeneias , as both committed themselves to transmitting the Aristotelian logic to the Latin West and to developing a suitable terminology;

    b) the methodological meanings that Boethius conveyed to indemonstrabilis , in order to open it to rational theology, through the convergence between maxima propositio and comunis animi conceptio ;

    c) the way in which some 12th-century authors transformed the previous convergence into an identity, making it the starting point of a method that distinguishes theological knowledge from the other arts and places it above them all.

    From a research conducted by using the Library of Latin Texts A–B, Aristoteles Latinus Data-base, Patrologia Latina Data-base, and Repertorium edierter Texte des Mittelalters , (1) it results that indemonstrabilis was rarely employed until the first half of the 12th century, when the Analytica Posteriora came back to the Latin West, along with Aristotle’s other treatises. During the Late Antiquity indemonstrabilis was used only by the Author of the Peri hermeneias and by Boethius. It does not matter if the Author of the Peri hermeneias cannot be identified as Apuleius of Madaura, because in the worst hypothesis the Peri hermeneias must be dated no later than the 4th century, having been quoted by Martianus Capella in De nuptiis Philologiae et Mecurii . (2) Among the pages of the Peri hermeneias and Boethius’s De syllogismo categorico (505–506), In librum Aristotelis De interpretatione secunda editio (513–516), and De topicis differentiis (522–523),3 there are 16 occurrences of indemonstrabilis , which signify (for the related passages see the appendix):

    1.1.a. the first four moods in the first figure of categorical syllogism

    1.2. the Stoic hypothetical indemonstrables

    1.3.a. the maximal propositions of dialectic." (pp. 53-54)

    (1) Brepolis Latin , (accessed 30/05/2014); Patrologia Latina Database , Alexandria/Cambridge 1995–2008; Repertorium edierter Texte des Mittelalters aus dem Bereich der Philosophie und angrenzender Gebiete , ed. by Rolf Schönberger et alii, Berlin 2011.

    (2) The authorship of the Peri hermeneias is still questioned. Some scholars maintain Apuleius’s paternity of the treatise and others reject it. Among the scholars in favour are Sandy, Sullivan, Londey, Johanson, and Sallmann, whilst Beaujeu, Lumpe, Moreschini, and Harrison are contrary. See Stephen J. Harrison: Apuleius. A Latin Sophist , Oxford/New York 2000, 11; Gerard Sandy: The Greek World of Apuleius. Apuleius and the Second Sophistic , (= Mnemosyne. Supplementum; 174), Leiden/New York/ öln 1997, 38–41; Die Literatur des Umbruchs. Von der römischen zur christlichen Literatur, 117 bis 284 n. Chr., ed. by Klaus Sallmann, (= Handbuch der Altertumswissenschaft; 8,4), Munich 1997, 301; Claudio Moreschini: “Ricerche sulla tradizione manoscritta del De interpretatione pseudoapuleiano”, in: Pan 10 (1990), 61–73; David Londey/Carmen Johanson: The Logic of Apuleius. Including a Complete Latin Text and English Translation of the Peri Hermeneias of Apuleius of Madaura , (= Philosophia antiqua; 47), Leiden/New York 1987, 8–15; Adolf Lumpe: Die Logik des Pseudo-Apuleius: ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der Philosophie, Augsburg 1982, 44–46; Apulée: Opuscules philosophiques et fragments, ed. J. Beaujeu, Paris 1973, vii–viii; Mark W. Sullivan: Apuleian Logic. The Nature, Sources, and Influence of Apuleius’s Peri Hermeneias, (= Studies in logic and the foundations of mathematics; 37), Amsterdam 1967, 235–242.

    (3) Apuleius: Peri hermeneias , in: Apuleius: De Philosophia libri , ed. C. Moreschini, (= Bibliotheca Teubneriana), Stuttgart/Leipzig 1991; Boethius: De syllogismo categorico , ed. C. Thomsen Thörnqvist, (= Studia Graeca et Latina Gothoburgensia; 68), Gothenburg 2008; Boethius: Commentarii in librum Aristotelis Περὶ Ἑρμηνείας, ed. C. Meiser, II, (= Bibliotheca Teubneriana), Leipzig 1880; Boethius: De topicis differentiis und die Byzantinische Rezeption dieses Werkes , ed. D.Z. Nikitas, (= Corpus Philosophorum Medii Aevi. Byzantinoi philosophoi; 5), Athens/Paris/Bruxelles 1990.

  • Bird, Otto. 1960. "The Formalizing of the Topics in Mediaeval Logic." Notre Dame Journal of Formal Logic no. 1:138-149.

    "The Topical Difference, or more literally the Difference of the Maximal Proposition, is that by which one Topic differs from another (BDT. 1186A).

    Thus the Topic of Definition, for instance, differs from that of Whole and Part in that the Maxim of the one warrants an inference among terms in which a Definition occurs, while the other warrants an inference among terms in which Whole and Part occur.

    Topical Differences, according to Boethius, "are drawn forth from the terms constituting the question and then discoursed about" (BDT. 1186A).

    Thus in our example, it is the question, whether trees are animals, that makes it possible to appeal to the Topic of Definition, since, knowing the definition of "animal" and that trees do not satisfy it, we are warranted by the Topical Maxim to conclude that trees are not animals.

    The De Differentiis Topicis is little more than a listing of such Topical Differences with representative Maxims for each. Book II gives the compilation of Topics made by Themistius from Aristotle; Book III that of Cicero, followed by a comparison of the two. Book I is a general introduction dealing with the terms used for analysing an argument, and Book IV, the final book, considers the Topics used by rhetoricians.

    This work became the source for mediaeval Topical doctrine. It seems to be the only work Abelard used for his extensive treatise on the Topics.

    Peter of Spain made a precis of it (primarily of the second book) and provided additional Maxims in the fifth tract of his Summulae. Since this became a standard elementary text in logic from the late 13th through the 15th centuries, Boethius thus remained indirectly the auctoritas for the Topics, and this seems to have remained true even after the recovery of the Aristotelian Topic a in the late 12th century." (pp. 140-141)


    BDT = Boethius, De Differentiis Topicis , in Migne, Patrologia Latina , T. 64.

  • Bobzien, Susanne. 2002. "A Greek Parallel to Boethius De hypotheticis syllogismis ." Mnemosyne no. 55:285-300.

    "In this paper I discuss a longish anonymous scholium to Aristotle's Analytics which is a Greek parallel to Boethius' De Hypotheticis Syllogismis .

    The scholium is available in print only in Theodor Waitz's edition of Aristotle's Organon (Leipzig 1844). It is Codex Laur. 72.5, ff. 210-2, appended at the end of a manuscript of the Prior and Posterior Analytics . Dieter Harlfinger has dated this part of the codex to the second half of the 10th century (7) this gives us a terminus ante quem .

    The scholium has, I believe, so far not been recognized as a parallel to Boethius, nor has it been discussed in the literature on hypothetical syllogisms. (8) I am also not aware of any translation. The scholium is important for the history of hypothetical syllogistic, because it is the only extant Greek text that provides a close parallel to the particular theory Boethius presents in Latin. We can assume that the scholium was composed no later than the 10th century (see above). But it preserves elements of a theory that was most probably developed before the 6th century. There are a number of idiosyncrasies in the terminology, a fact that sets the text apart from all other Greek sources on hypothetical syllogistic, and thus adds to its interest.

    In the following I present the text of the scholium, a translation, and a commentary, including some general remarks about the theory the scholium preserves." (p. 286)


    "In the commentary section it should have become increasingly apparent that the anonymous scholium on hypothetical syllogisms in Waitz is Peripatetic, and not Stoic, in its theoretical approach as well as its terminology. There are several elements of early Peripatetic hypothetical syllogistic preserved in it, although section (10) is likely to be witness to a later development of Peripatetic or Platonist hypothetical syllogisms. The most striking feature in the scholium is the large number of close parallels to Boethius' De Hypotheticis Syllogismis . Since it is rather unlikely that the scholium is based on a Latin source, we can assume that there must have been a Greek source from which both the scholium and large parts of Boethius' De Hypotheticis Syllogismis are ultimately derived." (p. 300)

    (7) D. Harlfinger, in: Paul Moraux (ed.), Aristoteles Graecus ,vol. 1 (Berlin 1976), Nachtrâge, 475-80, discusses Laur. 72.5.

    (8) Except that Prantl, Geschichte der Logik im Abendlande , vol. I (Leipzig 1855), 656, quotes part of the scholium in footnote 167.

  • Cameron, Margaret. 2009. "Boethius on Utterances, Understanding and Reality." In The Cambridge Companion to Boethius , edited by Marenbon, John, 85-104. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    "In this chapter, we will look at the three elements that form the basis of the theory of signification for Boethius, namely expressions, understanding and reality, and their relation to one another. Boethius did not write separate treatises on the philosophy of language, cognition or metaphysics. Instead, he wrote commentaries on Aristotelian logic. By the time he began to work on them around the start of the sixth century, the texts of Aristotelian logic were read in a fixed sequence: the first three were the Isagoge , Categories and On Interpretation , and Boethius treated topics as and when they are discussed in these texts by Porphyry and Aristotle. To grasp Boethius’ theory of signification, we must therefore gather his views on utterances, understanding and reality from a variety of places in his commentaries and put them together. As evidenced by the sheer length of the treatment of Aristotle’s brief comments on signification in his commentaries on On Interpretation , there is no question but that Boethius was aware of the importance of a theory of signification in explaining how the words we use are able to make sense to others and to refer to reality. We might expect, therefore, that Boethius’ views on language broadly cohere with his theory of cognition and metaphysics given elsewhere in the commentaries on the Isagoge and Categories. (1)

    The following sections aim to give a general overview of Boethius’ theory of signification by considering in turn what he says about expressions, understanding and reality in his logical commentaries.

    In the final section, we will consider the ways in which Boethius’ views have been variously interpreted from medieval and contemporary perspectives." (p. 85)

    (1) This is not to suggest that Boethius’ views did not change over the course of writing his several commentaries. With the exception of Aristotle’s Categories , Boethius wrote two commentaries per treatise. Here we are concerned to acquire a general overview of Boethius’ theory of signification, and we will concentrate mainly on two commentaries by Boethius, 2IS [Second Commentary on Isagoge ] and 2IN [Second Commentary on On Interpretation ], as well as CAT [Commentary on Categories ].

  • Casey, John Patrick. 2012. "Boethius’s Works on Logic in the Middle Ages." In A Companion to Boethius in the Middle Ages , edited by Kaylor Jr., Noel Harold and Phillips, Philip Edward, 193-219. Leiden: Brill.

    "This chapter discusses important Boethian contributions to medieval logic, in particular his definition of the problem of universals and his translation of Aristotelian logical works. It provides a brief introduction to the basic features of ancient logic relevant to Boethius's most noteworthy contributions to medieval logic. The chapter also discusses the three primary avenues of Boethius's influence upon medieval logic: his translations, commentaries, and original logical treatises. In the late ancient world, the Aristotelian and the Stoic systems of logic were considered to be incompatible rivals. The form of Aristotelian logic survived and was translated into the Middle Ages in the work of Boethius. This meant that medieval logicians learned about categorical propositions, syllogisms, and the problem of universals, rather than propositions, disjunctions, and conditionals." (p. 193)

  • Chadwick, Henry. 1981. Boethius. The Consolations of Music, Logic, Theology, and Philosophy . Oxford: Clarendon Press.

    Chapter III. Logic Part of Philosophy or a Tool of all Philosohy? 108; Logic and Rhetoric 111; Porphyry 120; Neoplatonists after Porphyry: Iamblichus, Syrianus, Proclus, Ammonius 127; Boethius' commentaries on the Isagoge 131; Translator of Aristotle 133; The Ten Categories 141; On Interpretation 152; Future Contingents 157; The Monographs on Logic 163; Propositional Logic and the Hypothetical Syllogism 166.

    "The place of logic in the hierarchy of knowledge was one of the many matters long in dispute between the Aristotelians and the Stoics. To the Stoics 'logic' meant something wide, an independent branch of philosophy, the other two contrasted branches being ethics and 'physics' (the scientific study of nature). The Stoics could point out that this threefold classification had a basis in the Topics (A, 14) of Aristotle himself. The Aristotelians, on the other hand, treated logic almost in our modern sense as a practical instrument for the discovery of fallacies in argument on any subject, an indispensable tool for every department of human inquiry. This Peripatetic attitude, from which the title Organon derives, presupposes a narrow understanding of the discipline as concerned with propositions and syllogisms and terms.

    The Platonic tradition originally preferred to speak of 'dialectic', according to Boethius because it is a power of dividing (In Cic. Top . I, 1045B following Plato, Sophist 253d). Through its distinctions we learn to divide genera into species, and classify different things under their proper genus. But neither the Neoplatonists of Athens and Alexandria nor Boethius mark a significant difference in force between 'logical' and 'dialectical' reasoning. (1) Until the twelfth century, when an attempt was made to classify dialectic with grammar as two branches of Logica , the terms were to be used more or less interchangeably.

    The Peripatetic case for their estimate of logic is most eloquently put by Alexander of Aphrodisias in his commentary on the Prior Analytics (CAG II, 1) in a way that makes minor concessions to the Platonic tradition. We have a number of late Platonist accounts of this dispute, e.g. the commentaries on the Prior Analytics by Ammonius (CAG IV, 6 pp. 811) and Philoponus (CAG XIII, 2 pp. 69). It is incautious to assume with Courcelle that Boethius had Ammonius before him when writing his second commentary on Porphyry in which the dispute is discussed. (2) One major element in Boethius' argument there, that logic is not confined by the limits and aims of other parts of philosophy, and is not restricted to a particular set of questions, stands without parallel in Ammonius. It is difficult to affirm a literary relation when one is dealing with a convention of the schools which every Neoplatonic teacher will think it his duty to expound." (pp. 108-109)

    (1) The contrary is asserted, on a waferthin basis, by G. Pfligersdorffer, ['Zu Boethius, De Interpr . ed sec. I p. 4, 4 sq. Meiser nebst Beobachtungen zur Geschichte der Dialektik bei den Römern'], Wiener Studien 66, 1953, 131-154.] p. 152.

    (2) P. Courcelle, Les Lettres grecques en occident (1948), p. 272 = Late Latin Writers (1969), p. 288.

  • Clark, Joseph T. 1952. "Boethius and Analytical Techniques." Philosophical Studies of the American Catholic Philosophical Association no. 3:35-37.

  • ———. 1952. "Boethius and Material Implication." Philosophical Studies of the American Catholic Philosophical Association no. 3:37-38.

  • Correia, Manuel Antonio. 2001. "Boethius on Syllogisms with Negative Premises." Ancient Philosophy no. 21:161-174.

    "According to Aristotle, no syllogism is conclusive with two negative premisses (Prior Analytics i 4.41 b7-9). The observation is a central rule of his Theory of Syllogism and recognized so by ancient, medieval, and modern logicians. In ancient scholastic discussions, however, there is a case made in support of thepossibility of conclusion from two negative premisses. It takes, as an authoritative proof, a syllogism made by Plato in the Theaetetus and affirms that syllogisms with two negative premisses are more frequent in philosophical literature than one might suppose.

    The problem, recovered especially by Boethius' second commentary on Aristotle's De Interpretatione (Meiser 1877-1880), arises from considerations of the logical properties of indefinite names in categorical or simple propositions." (p. 161)


    "The question of whether Plato was conscious of the syllogistic technicality that Boethius indicates is surely controversial. We can instead try to resolve the question of whether this syllogism can be reasonably derived from Plato.

    Meiser's edition gives a valuable notice: the syllogism in question can be found at Theaetetus 186. In fact, the exact passage seems to be Theaet. 186c5-e10." (p. 168)


    "I have argued that the case of a syllogism in Plato's Theaetetus , where two apparent negative premisses draw a conclusion, is simply a confirmation of the rule that there are no syllogisms with negative premisses and not, as Boethius suggests, a proof that a universal negation like 'Every man is not just' is equivalent to another one like 'Every man is not-just'. I have discussed this equivalence and similar ones arising from singular, particular, and unquantified propositions.

    but the result is that if the equivalence in question does work, it cannot be a characteristic of every categorical proposition. Indeed, even though formal proofs can be provided for some cases of categoricals, unquantified ones are explicitly stated as consequences by Aristotle (,A man is not just' follows from' A man is not-just', but not vice versa). Moreover, equivalences are indeed inconsistent with the principle that there is only one negation for a single affirmation, which Aristotle emphasizes in De Interpretatione and Prior Analytics . In the end, the question of which was Aristotle's idea of logic arises: whether a formal idea or a dialectical one (i.e., one compatible with the principle that an affirmation can have only one negation)." (p. 174)

  • ———. 2009. "The Syllogistic Theory of Boethius." Ancient Philosophy no. 29:391-405.

    "Boethius played an important role in transmitting logic to the Latin West. His translations, commentaries, and treatises deal amply with the most important thesis of Aristotelian logic, a theory whose influence is perceptible even in the last century (cf. Corcoran 2009 [‘Aristotle’s Demonstrative Logic’ History and Philosophy of Logic , 30: 1-20]). Two of his surviving logical treatises have traditionally received the title of ‘syllogistic’, the Introductio ad syllogismos categoricos (=ISC) and De syllogismis categoricis (=DSC), but DSC is the only one explaining syllogistic, for ISC does little more than mention, belatedly in the course of the text, its being an introduction to syllogistic." (p. 391)


    "Since there has been much discussion concerning the literary unity of DSC’s two books and its relation to ISC—including attempts to take book 2 of DSC as book 2 of ISC (which would be the actual Introductio Boethius wrote), it is my purpose to argue that DSC proposes a unitary view of Aristotelian logic, in which syllogistic comes to be the third of the three branches organizing the main logical inferences of the theory: opposition, conversion, and syllogism. Accordingly, DSC is indivisible from a doctrinal point of view and no book of DSC can be the part of the other treatise. This discussion is long overdue and it should contribute to understanding the scope of the respective treatises and their relation to each other." (p. 393)

  • ———. 2012. "Boethius on the Square of Opposition." In Around and Beyond the Square of Opposition , edited by Béziau, Jean-Yves and Jacquette, Dale, 41-52. Basel: Birkhäuser.

    Abstract: "This article intends to reconstruct the textual tradition of the square of oppositions from the earliest textual sources just as treated in Boethius’ commentaries on Aristotle’s De Interpretatione and his treatises on syllogistic, De syllogismo categorico and Introductio ad syllogismos categoricos . The research discovers two different tracks. One way comes from Plato’s Sophist and Aristotle’s De Interpretatione , and the aim is to distinguish contrariety from contradiction. The second influence also starts from Aristotle, but now in connection with his Prior Analytics and its commentaries and treatises on categorical syllogistic, where the aim is to show the square as one of the three main chapters of the complete theory of categorical logic. I suggest that this double ingredient has accompanied the development of the square from the very original beginning of logic."

  • Cranz, Edward F. 2006. "Boethius and Abelard." In Reorientations of Western Thought from Antiquity to the Renaissance , edited by Struever, Nancy, 1-20. Aldershot: Ashgate.

    "Let me conclude with two brief general addenda. First, I have tried to outline the main development of Abelard's logic and the one most dependent upon Boethius. What we have seen may be summarized by saying that, where Boethius closely connects, sometimes even identifies, intellections, universals and propositions with 'res ' or beings, Abelard shifts all these relationships to a new context and then denies them all: intellections, universals and propositions are not 'res '' as physical things. To repeat a phrase; he desubstantializes them all.

    But Abelard never stops thinking. Sometimes his conclusions are more new questions than new answers, and his second treatment of a problem is sometimes very different from his first. Some scholars have described the last stage of his thought as a 'return to Platonism': but I think he is more creative and original. He has changed Boethius' res into 'physical things,' and he has denied that intellections or meanings were 'physical things' and turned them into 'nothings.' But there are hints, and there is no time to analyze them here, that at the end he began to move to another new solution in which meanings from having been nothings turn into the ultimate realities. If I had to suggest parallels to his last stage, Petrarch, Lorenzo Valla and Nicholas of Cusa come to mind. So if I have tried to describe Abelard's transformation of Boethius, what was left, and I don't believe it was ever completed, might be called Abelard's transformation of Abelard.

    Second, while Abelard's writings had no wide dispersion and while he was not followed by any school or even by very many pupils, I believe his diffuse influence was greater than one might expect. The reorientations of thought one finds in his logic and elsewhere often spread more widely in his own time than did his specific ideas; they were not destroyed by the reception of Aristotle and in some ways provided a context within which Aristotle was received. So in concluding I cannot resist noting that, while I have characterized what happened as a transformation of Boethius, let us not in this group forget that it was a transformation of Boethius." (p. 20)

  • De Rijk, Lambertus Marie. 1964. "On the Chronology of Boethius' Works on Logic. Part I." Vivarium no. 2:1-49.

    "The chronological order of Boethius' works appears to be a rather difficult problem. Hence, it is not surprising that the numerous attempts to establish it led the scholars to results which are neither all conclusive nor uniform. In this article I confine myself to Boethius' works on logic. Before giving my own contribution it would seem to be useful to summarize the results of preceding studies and to make some general remarks of a methodological nature.


    My conclusion from this survey is that the best we can do in order to establish approximately the chronological order of Boethius' works on logic is to start a careful and detailed examination of all our data on this matter. In doing so an analysis of their contents seems to be quite indispensable, no less than a thorough examination of doctrinal and terminological differences." (pp. 1 and 4).

  • ———. 1964. "On the Chronology of Boethius' Works on Logic. Part II." Vivarium no. 2:125-162.

    "We shall now sum up the results of our investigations. First some previous remarks. Our first table gives of nine of the works discussed the chronological interrelation, which can be established with a fair degree of certainty. The figures put after the works give the approximative date of their composition (the second one that of their edition); when printed in heavy types they are based on external data; the other ones are based on calculation.

    Table 1

    Boethius' birth about 480 A.D.

    In Porphyrii Isagogen, editio prima about 504-505

    In Syllogismis categoricis libri duo (= ? Institutio categorica) about 505-506

    In Porphyrii Isagogen, editio secunda about 507-509

    In Aristotelis Categorias (? editio prima) about 509-511

    In Aristotelis Perhemeneias, editio prima not before 513

    In Aristotelis Perhemeneias, editio secundaabout 515-516

    De syllogismis hypotheticis libri tres between 516 and 522

    In Ciceronis Topica Commentaria before 522

    De topicis differentiis libri quattuor before 523

    Boethius' death 524

    The rest of the works discussed cannot be inserted in this table without some qualification. (...)

    We may establish the following table for the works not contained in out first table:

    Table 2

    Liber de divisione between 505 and 509

    possible second edition of the In Categorias after 515-516

    Translations of the Topica (and Sophistici Elenchi ) and of the

    Analytica Priora and Analytica Posteriora not after 520

    Commentary on Aristotle's Topica before 523

    the so-called Introductio (? = In Priora Analytica Praedicanda ) certainly after 513; probably c. 523

    Scholia on Aristotle's Analytica Priora first months of 523 at the latest"

    pp. 159-161 (notes omitted).

  • ———. 2003. "The Logic of Indefinite Names in Boethius, Abelard, Duns Scotus, and Radulphus Brito." In Aristotle's Peri hermeneias in the Latin Middle Ages. Essays on the Commentary Tradition , edited by Braakhuis, Henk A.G. and Kneepkens, Corneli Henri, 207-233. Groningen: Ingenium Publishers.

    "Aristotle's doctrine of indefinite names (nouns) was handed down to the Middle Ages together with Boethius' comments and explanations. Boethius' view of the matter has two characteristic features. For one thing, there is a certain ambiguity on his part concerning the precise semantic value of such terms; for another, Boethius deviates considerably from Aristotle in that he explicitly assigns the property of 'holding indifferently of existents and non-existents' not only to the indefinite rhéma (as it is found in Aristotle, De interpr. 3, 16b15) but to the indefinite name (onoma ) as well.

    Until the end of the 12th century the logic and grammar (1) of indefinite terms (nouns and verbs) was a much debated issue. Although assiduously echoing the well-known auctoritates Medieval thinkers did not always go the whole way with their predecessors. For example, Abelard and Scotus, starting from their own philosophical tenets, more or less inconspicuously corrected some dubious elements in Boethius' interpretation of Aristotle's doctrine of the indefinite name. Peter Abelard, especially, took great pains to precisely define the meaning of indefinite terms. He focussed his attention on the proper meaning of indefinite terms rather than on the question whether they are 'holding indifferently of existents and non-existens'. In contrast, 13th-century scholars like Duns Scotus and Radulphus Brito based their discussion of the proper meaning of the indefinite name upon the question 'Utrum nomen infinitum aliquid ponat ' ("Whether an infinite name posits something"), which calls to mind Boethius' claim that indefinite names 'hold indifferently of existent and non-existents'.

    Abelard's discussion of the proper meaning of the indefinite name is also interesting in that it helps us to gain a good understandiiip of what Boethius had in mind in claiming that the indefinite name 'siginifes an infinite number of things' ('significat infinita '). For, thanks to Äbelard's expositions, it becomes clear that the phrase 'significare infinita ', which, on the face of it, may be taken as referring to the extensional of the indefinite name, on closer inspection proves to concern its intension, because the controversy between Abelard and Boethius turns out to be about two different views of the indefinite name's intension rather that about any opposition of intension as against extension." pp. 207-208.

    (1) For the grammatical approaches to the problem of the indefinite term in the 12th century, see C.H. Kneepkens, "Orléans 266 and the Sophismata Collection: Master Joscelin of Soissons and the infinite words in the early twelfth century", in St. Read (ed.) Sophisms in Medieval Logic and Grammar. Acts of the Ninth European Symposium for Medieval Logic and Semantics, held at St Andrews, June 1990 (Nijhoff International Philosophy Series, 48; Dordrectt/Boston/London 1993), 64-85.

  • Dürr, Karl. 1951. The Propositional Logic of Boethius . Amsterdam: North-Holland.

    Contents: Preface VIII; Abbreviations IX-X; Introduction 1; I. The sources of "De Syllogismo Hypothetico" 4; II. The effects of Boethius' propositional logic in the early scholastic period 16; III. Choice of metascience and metalanguage 19; IV. Analysis of "De Syllogismo Hypothetico" 30; V. Analysis of a section of Boethius' Commentary on Cicero's Topics 66; Appendix by Norman M. Martin 74-79.

    Boe. = Anitii Manlii Severini Boethi . . . opera, quae extant, omnia . Basileae (1570).

    "The text of the treatise "The Propositional Logic of Boethius" was finished in 1939. Prof. Jan Lukasiewicz wished at that time to issue it in the second volume of "Collectanea Logica"; as a result of political events, he was not able to carry out his plan.

    In 1938, I published an article in "Erkenntnis" entitled "Aussagenlogik im Mittelalter"; this article included the contents of a paper which I read to the International Congress for the Unity of Science in Cambridge, England, in 1938 (Cf. Erkenntnis, vol. 7, pp. 160-168). The subject matter of this paper touched upon that of the above-mentioned treatise. Recently an article of Mr. René van den Driessche, "Sur le 'de syllogismo hypothetico' de Boèce", was published in the journal "Methodos" (vol. I, no. 3, [1949]). Mr. van den Driessche referred in this article to the article on propositional logic in the Middle Ages, which had appeared in "Erkenntnis". This reminded me of my yet-unpublished treatise on the propositional logic of Boethius." (From the Preface )

    "§ 1. The Two Books of Boethius on the Theory of the Proposition.

    It is the unique property of propositional logic that the variables which are used are propositional variables, i.e. variables whose values are propositions.

    Among the logical writings of the man whom, for short, is called “Boethius’’ and whose full name is “Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius”, we find two which can be characterized as presentations of propositional logic.

    The first of these is entitled “de syllogismo hypothetico” (on the hypothetical syllogism).

    Incidentally, it should be noted that this title, as Samuel Brandt has shown, does not originate with Boethius, and it would be more correct to give the book the title “de hypotheticis syllogismis” (on hypothetical syllogisms) (Cf. Samuel Brandt: 'Entstehungszeit und zeitliche Folge der Werke des Boethius'. Philologus , Bd. LXII (1903) p. 238). Nevertheless, one does well to quote the work under its incorrect title “de syllogismo hypothetico” as long as the old editions are in use.

    The second book is a commentary on the Topics of Cicero. Here we do not consider the entire commentary, but only certain sections; we will indicate later which sections come into consideration (Cf. infra § 38)." (p. 1)


    "§ 4. More Precise Charactrization of Boethius' Propositional Logic.

    At the beginning of this treatise, we declared that the logic which is represented in the two works of Boethius, may be characterized as propositional logic. We add the remark that all of the sentences that have an independent value (i.e. that do not occur only as auxillary sentences) in this logic were deductive rules, or, which comes to the same thing, inference schemes.

    In this connection we recall the explanation of Clarence Irving Lewis in the book “Symbolic Logic”: “Exact logic can be taken in two ways: (1) as a vehicle and canon of deductive interference, or ( 2 ) as that subject which comprises all principles the statement of which is tautological” (Cf. ClarenceIrving Lewis and Cooper Harald Langford: Symbolic Logic (1932 p. 235). We can now say that the logic of Boethius belongs to the first of these two forms of exact logic. Boethius’ aim is not to set up sentences which are tautological, but rather to present all of the deductive rules." (p. 3)


    § 38. The Three Enumerations of the Seven Conditional Syllogisms.

    We now turn to the consideration of the form of propositional logic to be found in Boethius’ commentary on Cicero’s Topics .

    At the beginning of the fifth book of this commentary, Boethius notes that he has treated all the hypothetical syllogisms in another book; he obviously has “de syllogismo hypothetico” in mind (Cf. Boe., p. 823). The exposition which follows this remark covers more than the first half of the fifth book of the commentary; it constitutes that part of the commentary that is of interest to us here (Cf. supra , § 1).

    In order to determine this section more precisely one can best indicate its beginning and its end. It begins with the words “de omnibus quidem hypotheticis syllogismis” (Cf. Boe., p. 823) and continues to the place immediately preceding the following words of Cicero, “proximus est locus” (Cf. Boe., p. 934).

    Boethius notes that Cicero mentioned some modi (inference types). From the exposition that follows, it is to be assumed, that Boethius identifies the modi that Cicero mentioned with the system of the seven conditional syllogisms (Cf. Boe., p. 823). By conditional syllogisms we understand inference schemes.

    At the place which Boethius has in mind, Cicero enumerates seven inference schemes. Boethius quotes this place in the fifth book of his commentary (Cf. Boe., p. 817). We will call the quotation of this place from Cicero’s Topics in Boethius’ commentary “the quotation”.

    In the text of the commentary as given by the editions we find the seven conditional syllogisms enumerated three times. The first and the second enumerations precede the quotation, while the third follows it (Cf. Boe., p. 831-833). It may be mentioned that the second enumeration agrees so closely with the first, that it may be called a duplication of the first.

    Propositional variables are used only in the third enumeration of the seven conditional syllogisms; the system of propositional variables which we called the simple system is used (Cf. supra, § 17). In all three enumerations each of the conditional syllogisms is illustrated by an example. These examples are expressions related to the inference schemes; like the inference schemes, they contain functors and always contain a sign which can be identified with the functor “igitur ”; they contain however no propositional variables, instead having simple, i.e. atomic, sentences.

    The examples of conditional syllogisms which Boethius gives with the first and second enumerations, are extremely simple and the two sequences agree almost completely member for member.

    We will quote these examples in English; in this translation the English word “therefore” occurs instead of the functor “igitur” It seems desirable to divide the seven conditional syllogisms into four groups; we will divide them in such a way that the first and second modi constitute the first group, the third modus constituhs the second group, the fourth and fifth modi the third group and finally the sixth and seventh modi form the fourth group." (pp. 66-67)

  • Ebbesen, Sten. 1973. "Manlius Boethius on Aristotle's Analytica Posteriora ." Cahiers de l'Institut du Moyen-Âge Grec et Latin no. 9:68-73.

    "A reference to a Boethian commentary on Posterior Analytics I is found in a thirteen th-century MS (Munich, clm 14246), but this is surely an error. The work referred to was really the translation of Philoponus’ commentary that most schoolmen attributed to Alexander of Aphrodisias. I regret having called attention to the Munich MS in a small article of 1973 (CIMAGL 9: 68–73), and I beg my readers not to waste their time on looking up that article." S. Ebbesen, "The Aristotelian Commentator" in John Marenbon (ed.). The Cambridge Companion to Boethius, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009, p. 52.

  • ———. 1987. "Boethius as an Aristotelian Scholar." In Aristoteles. Werk und Wirkung. Paul Moraux zum 65 Geburtstag gewidmet - Band 2: Kommentierung, Uberlieferung, Nachleben , edited by Wiesner, Jürgen, 286-311. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.

    Reprinted as Boethius as an Aristotelian Commentator in: Richard Sorabji (ed.), Aristotle Transformed. The Ancient Commentators and Their Influence , London: Duckworth, 1990, pp. 373-392.

    Citations are from the reprint in Sorabji 1990.

    "It has been suggested that the only material at Boethius' disposal was a copy of the Organon with marginal scholia, and that this collection of scholia is no longer extant. (14) We may often be able to ascertain the remoter origin of one of the scholia Boethius knew, but we shall never know whether he deviated from his direct source in any way and the standard answer to the question 'Why does Boethius say this?' can only be, 'Because it was in his only source.'

    The 'one source - no thinking' theory has the support of eminent scholars and it cannot be refuted by any means that I can think of. But neither can it be proved by any conceivable means short of finding the supposed manuscript of the Organon with the marginal scholia. To my mind, the circumstantial evidence in favour of this theory, though not negligible, is less than convincing. (15) The observable facts are quite as easily explained on the assumption that Boethius had access to several Greek monographs and commentaries and that he followed the common practice of using for each work one main source while also exploiting secondary sources. It is an old discovery that this hypothesis works well in the case of the extant short commentary on the Categories, the only case in which we still have what may be the main source. Boethius acknowledges a debt to Porphyry (16) and actually keeps so close to the latter's extant minor commentary on the Categories (CAG 4, 1) that it is simpler to assume that he had direct access to a complete copy of it than to assume second-hand acquaintance by way of a book which also contained the post-Porphyrian material detectable in Boethius' commentary.

    Granted that Boethius' main source was Porphyry's extant work, we can begin to examine the way he used it. As it turns out, he follows his predecessor to the extent of reproducing most of the questions he raised and the answers he gave, but not to the extent of reproducing long segments of his text in direct translation. Boethius expanded arguments which he found too compressed while curtailing or suppressing other passages. (17) In fact, he followed the procedure which his own remarks in this and other works indicate (18) -- and that procedure involved making choices. It looks as if it might be worth while to speculate about his possible motives for choosing as he did." (pp. 376-377; note 15, 17 and 18 omitted)

    (14) J. Shiel, 'Boethius' Commentaries on Aristotle': Medieval and Renaissance Studies 4, 1958, 217-44, extensively revised in Chapter 15; id, 'Boethius and Eudemus', Vivarium 12, 1974, 14-17; id, 'A recent discovery: Boethius' notes on the Prior Analytics', Vivarium 20, 1982,128-41.

    (16) Boeth. in Cat. 160A; see n. 20 below.

  • ———. 2008. "Boethius on Aristotle." In Greek-Latin Philosophical Interaction. Collected Essays of Sten Ebbesen Volume 1 , 107-114. Aldershot: Ashgate.

    This chapter was written for the present volume, but to a considerable extent it recapitulates Ebbesen (1987).

    "Anicius Manlius Boethius (d. c.525) was the great mediator between ancient Greek and medieval Latin philosophy. He completed a tremendous piece of work by translating all of the Organon (except, it seems, the Posterior Analytics ) into Latin and writing commentaries as well as other companion volumes. It is remarkable that there are two commentaries of his on Porphyry and two on Perihermeneias , but only one on the Categories . Actually, there may have existed a second one on that work too, but at least it did not survive for the medievals to use. (2) As for the Ars nova , Boethius himself refers to a commentary on the Topics (3) of which there is no trace in later times. It is uncertain whether he accompanied his translation of the Prior Analytics with a commentary (the question is discussed in Chapter 13 [Analysing Syllogisms or Anonymus Aurelianensis 111 - the (presumably) Earliest Extant Latin Commentary on the Prior Analytics and its Greek Model , pp. 171-186] Boethius’ monographs on categorical and hypothetical syllogistic, on divisions and on topical argumentation were intensely studied from the late eleventh to the early thirteenth century, and they left their mark on Latin logic long after they ceased to be standard reading. A commentary on Cicero's Topics was less influential.

    Finally, it must be mentioned that Boethius composed treatises on the quadrivial arts: arithmetic, music, geometry (uncertain, not extant), and just possibly astronomy •as well. In one famous passage he himself reveals a grandiose plan to translate the whole of Aristotle and Plato. (4)

    Remarkable as the list of Boethius’ accomplishments is, two lacunas stand out. There is no grammar at all and no proper treatise on rhetoric, only the somewhat related commentary on Cicero's Topics and the fourth book of De topicis Differentiis , which was actually used as a textbook of rhetoric in medieval Paris. We can only guess at the reasons, but quite possibly Boethius thought of grammar and rhetoric as sub-philosophic disciplines. After all, as opposed to logic and the quadrivial arts, grammar and rhetoric had traditionally been taught by their own professional teachers, not by philosophers. (5) Moreover, he may have felt that such existing handbooks as Donatus’ Ars were sufficient for the grammatical needs of the Latin world, and there surely was no dearth of rhetorical treatises in the tongue of Cicero." (p. 108)


    "So. the way 1 read Porphyry and Boethius, they shared the view that becoming a good Aristotelian is a necessary step on the way to becoming a good Platonist, and what you have learned in the first step of your intellectual career does not become false when you ascend to a higher level -- you are just able to put it into a much wider context.

    The medieval West inherited from late antiquity numerous texts that could help send people off on fanciful Neoplatonic stratospheric flights. The fact that Boethius provided them with a proper set of down-to-earth, but still interesting, logic books ensured that quite a few preferred safer and saner flights closer to the surface of mother earth, or at least tried to secure proper ground support before lifting off." (p. 114)

    (2) See P. Hadot, "Un fragment du commentaire perdu de Boèce sur les Catégories d'Aristote dans le codex Bernensis 363", Archives d'histoire doctrinale et littéraire du Moyen Âge , 26, 1959, pp. 11-27.

    (3) Boethius. Top. Diff. 2.8.8 (PL 64 1191A) and 4.13.2 (PL 64: 1216D).

    (4) Boethius. Comm. Int. ed. 2a. Weiser, pp. 79-80.

    (5) For the quadrivium as the philosophers' domain, see I. Hadot, Arts libéraux et philosophie dans la pensée antique. Contribution à l'histoire de l'éducation et de la culture dans l'antiquité . Seconde édition revue et considérablement augmentée. Paris: Vrin, 2005.

  • ———. 2009. "The Aristotelian Commentator." In The Cambridge Companion to Boethius , edited by Marenbon, John, 34-55. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    "The point, then, is that we have to start from the lowest level to work our way toward the higher. We have to learn our grammar before we can get a deeper understanding of language-related matters by studying logic.

    We have to achieve a simplified understanding of logic before we can undertake an in-depth study. We have to know our logic properly before we can ascend to higher matters, such as Neoplatonic metaphysics, in the light of which our initial understanding of logic will appear primitive.

    This way of looking upon thingswas not Boethius’ invention. In its essentials it was already Porphyry’s, it was what allowed Porphyry to include the study of Aristotle in a curriculum aimed at producing good Platonists ready to take leave of their bodily frame. As Aristotle’s logic was supposed not to have trespassed on Plato’s metaphysical territory, teachers of Aristotle need not and ought not Platonize him. Boethius’ extant commentaries evince a decision to follow Porphyry, though he was clearly sympathetic to some of the more extravagant Neoplatonists – people of the stripe of Iamblichus, Syrianus and Proclus – and it makes one shudder to imagine what the “Pythagorean” exposition of the Categories that his extant commentary says he was contemplating was or would be like." (p. 51)

  • ———. 2011. "Boethius as a Translator and Aristotelian Commentator." In Interpreting the Bible and Aristotle in Late Antiquity. The Alexandrian Commentary Tradition between Rome and Baghdad , edited by Lössl, Josef and Watt, John W., 121-133. Farham: Ashgate.

    "Virtually the whole of Boethius’ literary output – including his final Consolation of Philosophy – may be viewed as a Herculean effort to transfer Greek philosophical thought to Latin, but only his Latinizations of the works of the Organon were strictly speaking translations. The commentaries and companion volumes are free adaptations of Greek prototypes. Exactly how free is difficult to gauge because in all cases but one we are sure that we no longer possess any of the Greek texts he used. The exception is Porphyry’s commentary on the Categories .

    There is some scholarly disagreement about whether he used that text directly or only indirectly, but if he did have direct access to it, as I believe, he did not at all follow it slavishly. In any event, even if he made a very free use of his Greek sources, producing the commentaries and companion volumes involved a considerable amount of translation, because he had to find out how to render all the technical terminology of his sources in Latin.

    Boethius did not have to start from scratch. Already in the first century B.C., Cicero and Varro had coined Latin equivalents of many philosophical terms, and more had been added over the centuries. In fact, for most of the technical terms of logic Boethius could depend on his predecessors. He was probably the first to use subalternus and subcontrarius when dealing with the square of opposition, and he was almost certainly the first to translate ἀξίωμα ‘axiom’ as maxima propositio , which is the origin of the English – and pan-European – maxim . But more often than not he would use an existing translation. His problem was rather one of choice, because in several cases Latin usage was not uniform. (pp. 123-124)


    "In the short run, Boethius’ translations, commentaries and monographs met with no success, due to the collapse of the political structure and of higher schooling in the western part of the Roman empire shortly after his death. In the long run, he was immensely successful.

    Use of his works began slowly in early Carolingian times, but by 1100 his translations of Porphyry, Categories and Perihermeneias were in common use in several schools, and so were his commentaries on those works and his handbook-like works. By about 1120 people were beginning to also use his translations of the Prior Analytics , the Topics and the Sophistical Refutations .

    This laid the foundation for the Aristotelian scholasticism that was to dominate the study of philosophy in the West for some four centuries. It also meant that it was Boethius’ choices that decided what was to become the technical vocabulary of Latin Aristotelian logic." (p. 124)

  • Eco, Umberto. 1984. "Signification and Denotation from Boethius to Ockham." Franciscan Studies no. 44:1-29.

    "Boethius translates "semaînein" with "significare" but he follows the Augustinian line of thought according to which "significatio" is the power that a word has to arouse in the mind of the hearer a thought, through the mediation of which one can implement an act of reference to things. He says that single terms signify the corresponding concept or the universal idea and takes "significare"— as well as, less frequently, "designare"— in an intensional sense. Words are conventional instruments used to make known one's thoughts (sensa or sententias ) (In Per. Herm. I).

    Words do not designate res subiectas but passiones animae. The designated thing is at most called "underlying the concept of it (significationi supposita or suppositum )", see de Rijk 1967:180-181. (3)

    As for "denotatio ," Boethius uses extensively "nota ," but we know how vague was the meaning of this term in the Latin Lexicon — at least as vague as the meaning of the equivalent Greek "symbolon ." It must be remembered that Boethius, in the translation of De lnterpretatione used "nota " for both "symbolon " and "semeîon ," thus creating a first "sad tale of confusion"." (pp. 5-6)

    (3) in Peri herm . II, pp. 26-27, ed. Meiser, debating the question whether words refer immediately to concepts or to things, Boethius uses in both cases the expression 'designare .' In II, p. 20 he says in the same context, "vox vero conceptiones animi intellectusque significat" and "voces vero quae intellectus désignant." In II, pp. 23-24, speaking of "litterae, voces, intellectus, res," he says that "litterae verba nominaque significant" and that "haec vero (nomina) principaliter quidem intellectus secundo vero loco res quoque designant. Intellectus vero ipsi nihil aliud nisi rerum significativi sunt." In Arist. Categ . col. 159 B4-C8, says that "prima igitur ilia fuit nominum positio per quam vel intellectui subiecta vel sensibus designaret." It seems to me that "designare" and "significare" are taken as more or less equivalent. The real point is that first words signify concepts and, because of that, and mediately, can be referred to things. Cf. on the whole question de Rijk (1967, II, I, p. 178 ff.) Nuchelmans (1973:134) remarks that even though Boethius also uses "significare," along with "designare, denuntiare, demonstrare, enuntiare, dicere" with an object-expression to indicate what is true or false, however when he uses the same terms with a person as a subject he means that someone makes known his opinion that something is or is not the case: "the definition of the enuntiatio or propositio as an utterance which signifies something true or false reflects the fact that in Aristotle's view it is the thought or belief that something is the case which is true or false in the primary sense. As Boethius puts it, truth and falsity are not in things but in thoughts and opinions and secondarily (post haec ) in words and utterances— in Cat. 181b. Cf. also such a passage as in In Per . I, p. 42, 1" (Nuchelmans 1973:134).


    De Rijk, L. M., ed., 1967. Logica modemorum , II, 1. Assen: Van Gorcum.

    Nuchelmans, G., 1973. Theories of the Proposition . [Vol. I: Ancient and Medieval Conceptions of the Bearers of Truth and Falsity ]. Amsterdam: North-Holland.

  • Gili, Luca. 2015. "A neglected source of Boethius's De syllogismo categorico ." Mnemosyne no. 68:304-307.

    Abstract: "This paper shows that Boethius's De syllogismo categorico had among its sources Alexander of Aphrodisias's commentaries on the Topics and on the Prior Analytics . The first of these sources has been neglected by scholars until now. Boethius's usage of these sources shows the originality of his logical treatise."

  • Green-Pedersen, Niels Jørgen. 1984. The Tradition of the Topics in the Middle Ages. The Commentaries on Aristotle's and Boethius' 'Topics' . Münich: Philosophia Verlag.

    Contents: Preface 9; Part I. The Sources of the Medieval Doctrine of the Topics 11; A. Aristotle's Works on the Topics 11; B. Boethius' Works on the Topics 39; Part II. The Medieval Approach to the Sources 83; A. Aristotle's Topics 85; B. Boethius' De Differentiis Topicis 123; C. The University Teaching 127; Part II. The Doctrine of the Topics in the Middle Ages 135; A. Introductory 135; B. The earliest Texts 139; C. The 12th Century 163; D. The 13th Century 223; E. The Topics and the Theory of Consequences 265; F. The 14th Century 301; G. The 15th Century 321; Part IV. General Conclusion 345; Appendix 1: Selection of Unprinted Texts 347; Appendix 2. List of Commentaries 381; A. Commentaries on Aristotle's Topics 383; B. Commentaries on Boethius' De Differentiis Topicis 418; References 433; Index 449; Summary in Danish 455-459.

    "B. Boethius’ Works on the Topics

    1. Introductory

    In chronological order the next work to discuss would be Cicero’s Topica , which is the first work on the topics after Aristotle that has come down to us. I shall, however, proceed directly to Boethius’s works, partly because an acquaintance with Boethius’ doctrines contributes to a better understanding of Cicero. Partly also because there are no medieval commentaries on Cicero’s Topica . Apparently this work was only influential on the teaching in the very early period, probably not much after c. A. D. 1050. The teachers of those days did not write commentaries, as far as we know, but only compendia or summaries of the texts they based their teaching on; or they added glosses to these texts. Ina later chapter we shall see how Cicero’s Topica - directly or indirectly - is the basis of the earliest medieval teaching about the topics which we know of. Yet even in these early years the medievale use not only Cicero’s book, but also Boethius’ commentary on it. All these facts suggest that at least in a medieval context it is better to consider Boethius before Cicero. The things which we need to know about Cicero can be set out in connection with Boethius or with the discussion of the works which base their teaching upon Cicero.

    Boethius wrote about the topics primarily in two works, the Commentary on Cicero’s Topica (In Ciceronis Topica , ICT) and the monograph De differentiis topicis (DDT). The commentary on Cicero is the earlier of the two, as we can infer from references in the DDT back to the ICT and from remarks in the ICT about plans for the DDT. But the distance in time between the two is small, both were written in the last years of Boethius’ life, i. e. after c. 520. (1) Boethius also refers to a commentary which he claims to have written on Aristotle’s Topics , (2) but such a work has not come down to us. As the references to it are found in the DDT and no references are found in the ICT, we may conjecture that the commentary on Aristotle’s Topics was written in the period between the ICT and the DDT. On the other hand Boethius refers to his translation of Aristotle’s Topics in the ICT, 3 and it is natural to assume that he wrote the commentary while working on the translation.

    Boethius’ commentary on Cicero’s Topica (ICT) follows the text in Cicero’s work continuously, but it is either preserved incompletely or it was never finished by Boethius, since it ends in the comments on Cicero’s § 76. Cicero’s work contains a prologue (§§ 1-5), an introduction (§§ 6-8), a summary statement of his list of loci (§§ 9-24), a detailed exposition of the same list (§§ 25-78), and finally a section of a more rhetorical character (§§ 79-100). The most interesting parts of the ICT are the rather long discussions about the nature and the division of the loci which Boethius has inserted before both Cicero’s first and second enumeration of the loci. Further Boethius utilizes Cicero’s second exposition of the locus ‘from antecedents’ etc. for a long discussion of conditionals and hypothetical syllogisms. We shall have occasion to look at these discussions more closely.

    We need not know more about the contents of the ICT, but we shall instead turn to the DDT with which we must be well-acquainted in order to understand the medieval doctrine of the topics." (pp. 39-40)

    (1) De Rijk (1964) pp. 151-154.

    (2) Boethius, DDT II.1191 A; IV, 1216 D. - Cf. De Rijk 1964, p. 156.

    (3) Boethius, ICT I, p. 280,40-41 (1052 A-B).


    L. M. De Rijk 'On the Chronology of Boethius' Works on Logic. I-II", Vivarium , 2, 1964, pp. 1-49 and 125-162.

  • Huby, Pamela M. 1988. "Boethius vindicates Cicero as a logician." Liverpool Classical Monthly no. 13:60-61.

    "Boethius' reading of Cicero's Topics 54 shows that he had a better text than we do, and thus makes more sense of Cicero's argument."

  • Lewry, Osmond. 1981. "Boethian Logic in the Medieval West." In Boethius: His Life, Thought and Influence , edited by Gibson, Margaret, 90-134. Oxford: Blackwell.

    "Almost three centuries after his death, Boethius entered the school-room. With Alcuin of York as master and Charlemagne as pupil, a halting dialogue ensued. This Dialectica is a tenuous link between the learning of a member of the old Roman nobility, from the early sixth century, and the studious aspirations of the Frankish kingdom, at the end of the eighth. But the title is an ambitious one for these exiguous remains of classical culture, and even the presence of Boethius here is faint. In sixteen chapters, Alcuin rehearses the rudiments of the old logic. (1) He begins with Porphyry’s Isagoge , for his account of the five universals, and ends with Aristotle’s Perihermeneias , for the statement and its parts but, as his dedicatory verses to Charlemagne show, the categories are the core of his work, and for these, lacking the Praedicamenta of Aristotle himself, he had to turn to the Themistian paraphrase, the De Decem Categoriis , which he ascribes to Augustine. The Pseudo-Augustine only omits matters of minor importance, but Alcuin received an account of the categories affected by transpositions and mixed with many non-Aristotelian elements. (2) The solid contribution of Boethius himself is in his translations of the Isagoge and Perihermeneias if there are borrowings from his commentaries and treatises, they are meagre. (3) Of the nineteen valid moods of the categorical syllogism, only four appear in the treatment of argumentation, and these, the moods of the first figure with their premisses interchanged, in a form derived from the Perihermeneias of Apuleius and not from the De Syllogismis Catégoricis of Boethius. (4) The fifteen kinds of definition derive from a treatise which the Middle Ages attributed to Boethius, but this Liber de Definìtionibus was in fact by Marius Victorinus, (5) as Boethius recognised in summarising its teaching. (6) They came to Alcuin through the Institutiones of Cassiodorus , (7) and it was sixth-century interpolations in the same source that gave Alcuin some second-hand knowledge of Boethius’ De Differentiis Topicis . (8)" (pp. 90-91)


    "In the first half of the fifteenth century, however, a reaction against the influence of Boethius can be seen in Lorenzo Valla’s preface to his Dialecticae Disputationes. His reference to ‘eruditorum ultimus Boetius’ and his question, ‘How many were there after Boethius whom one would consider worthy to be called a Latin and not a Barbarian?’, (150) may suggest more than a grudging recognition for his authority, but elsewhere Boethius is sharply criticised for his doctrine. (151) Valla also thinks that he was overrated by Albertus Magnus among the scholastics and Poggio among the humanists. (152) Despising Aristotle as a man who contributed nothing to civic life and lacked practical skills, Valla’s endeavour was to bring logic back from a realm of abstractions to what he regarded as its proper concern, natural expression : in effect dialectic was to be reduced to rhetoric. (153) This enterprise of reduction could not be carried through without a reform of terminology, and this led him, at the beginning of his work, to attack the teaching of the categories as it had been mediated by Boethius (154) and the Porphyrian hierarchy of substance. (155) His second book extended the reduction to propositional logic; his third to reasoning. Here he poured scorn on Boethius and those who praise him, for their failure to see that the fourth figure syllogisms are but indirect forms of the first. (...) In this humanist reaction the authority of Cicero and Quintilian is preferred to that of Boethius." (pp. 120-121)


    "The preface to the Basel edition of 1570 [of the works of Boethius ] tempers the criticism of Valla, but passes quickly over the logic to celebrate the achievements of Boethius in mathematics and music. The dedicatory letter recalls the aims of Boethius himself as a translator and commentator and praises him for opening to the Latin world what Aristotle had hidden from many, and judiciously weighing the opinions of antiquity. Regret is voiced that nothing survives of his commentaries on the Analytica and Topica of Aristotle. Of the logical works, it is the double commentary on the Perihermeneias which is particularly valued, and the 'four beautiful books De Differentiis Topicis , by which he distinguished dialectical from rhetorical topics’. Mention is still made, though, of the works on the syllogistic and division, (159) so that even if rhetoric had made its inroads here too, the legacy of the Boethian logic was still prized for its own sake." (p. 122)

    (1) PL CI. 949B-80B.

    (2) See L. Minio-Paluello, ‘Note sull’Aristotele Latino Medievale: XV. Dalle Categoriae Decem pseudo-Agostiniane (Temistiane) al Testo Vulgato Aristotelico Boeziano’, in Opuscula: The Latin Aristotle (Amsterdam, 1972), pp. 448-58, and the same author’s edition of the text, Pseudo-Augustini Paraphrasis Themistiana (AL i. 1-5, pp. lxxvii-xcvi, 129-75)·

    (3) See A. van de Vyver, ‘Les Etapes du Développement Philosophique du Haut Moyen-Age’, Revue Belge de Philologie et d'Histoire VIII (1929), 425-52, and the account of Alcuin’s work there, pp. 430-2.

    (4) See M. W. Sullivan, Apuleian Logic (Amsterdam, 1967), pp. 178-82.

    (5) Ed. T. Stangl (Munich, 1882); reprinted in P. Hadot, Marius Victorinus (Paris, 1971), pp. 329-65.

    (6) In Cic Top III (PL LXIV, 1098A).

    (7) Cassiodori Senatoris Institutiones II. 14, ed. R. A. B. Mynors (Oxford, 1937), pp. 119-24.

    (8) PL LXX. 1175D12 1190C4.

    (150) Quotus enim quisque post Boëtium fuit qui Latinus dici mereatur et non Barbarus: Laurentius Valla, Opera Omnia (Basel, 1540), reprinted Turin, 1962, i. 644.

    (151) See Elegantiae VI, xxxiv (ed. cit., i. 215-16); De Voluptate III. xi (ed. cit., I. 973); Ep. ad Ioannem Aretinum (Venice, 1503, reprinted Turin, 1962, II. 122).

    (152) See In Pogium Antidoti II (ed. cit., I. 292-3).

    (153) See G. di Napoli, Lorenzo Valla: Filosofia e Religione nell'Umanesimo Italiano (Rome, 1971 Uomini e Dottrine XVII), pp. 57-99.

    (154) Dialectica I. i (ed. cit., i. 645-6).

    (155) Ibid ., I. vii (i. 646-7).

  • Magee, John. 1989. Boethius on Signification and Mind . Leiden: Brill.

    Contents: Acknowledgements IX; Sigla X; Abbreviations and Editions XI; Introduction 1; I. Aristotle: Peri Hermeneias I, 16a3-9; 7; II. Boethius’ Translation 49; III. Orandi Ordo 64; IV. Cogitabilis Oratio 93; Afterword 142; Bibliography 150; Index Locorum 155; Index Nominum et Rerum 162-165.

    "The following is a study of Boethius' thought on signification which attempts to situate that thought historically and to evaluate it philosophically. Its justification is found in the present lack of any systematic examination of the subject, (1) and in the intrinsic importance of that subject for the history of later ancient and especially of medieval thought. It is frequently the case that medievalists will have read Boethius' philosophical works with an eye only to subsequent developments; those classicists who bother with him at all will probably have done so out of an interest (one which shows signs of increasing) in investigating the very last stages in the history of ancient learning. That Boethius has sometimes run afoul of misunderstandings originating on both sides of the academic fence can, I believe, be explained in part by the fact that his work as both commentator and translator sets him somewhat apart in the history of ancient commentary on Aristotle. As a commentator, he has tended to be ignored by those classical scholars who are accustomed to the massive and weighty Greek commentaries from the likes of Alexander (late 2nd-early 3rd c. AD) and Simplicius (6th c. AD). As a translator, he has sometimes obscured, for the medievalists not working in the Greek tradition of commentary (as indeed for the many medieval writers who depended upon his translations), the prehistory of certain ideas expressed during the course of his commentaries on the texts of what in the Middle Ages came to be known as the logica vetus. "


    "The present work is divided into four chapters, taking as its starting point the lines of Aristotle’s Peri Hermeneias around which Boethius’ theory of signification turns. The first chapter of the study plunges in medias res

  • Boethius. 1957. "The Second Edition of the Commentaries on the Isagoge of Porphyry, (Book I)." In Selections From Medieval Philosophers (I): Augustine to Albert the Great, edited by McKeon, Richard 70-99. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.

    Translation of In Isagoge, 1.1-12.

    "The selection which follows, the First Book of the second Commentaries on the Isagoge, illustrates the temper and interest, no less than the importance, of Boethius. The entire Book is commentary on not more than a page of text from Porphyry, and a good two-thirds of it is devoted to

    developing and enforcing in full detail a remark of his concerning the utility of the study of logic. The remaining part is devoted to a penetrating

    -- and startlingly cautious -- discussion of the problem of the universal. As in the case of the defense of logic, the discussion grows out of a remark by Porphyry -- his refusal to discuss in an introductory work questions concerning the possible existence of genera and species outside our mind; concerning their nature, corporeal or incorporeal; and their relations to sensible objects. To answer such problems in any detail would be to develop an entire philosophy. Particularly, it would necessitate a choice between Plato and Aristotle as Boethius conceived and stated them.

    Boethius, none the less, with reservations and for reasons which he carefully states, undertakes the discussion of the basic notions of the problem. The later development of scholastic philosophy is based, significantly, upon these questions. It is needless of course to say, as has frequently been said, that Boethius introduced the question to the middle ages and set the twelfth century to discussing the universal: the problem is to be found in Augustine, and it would be difficult to proceed far in philosophy without encountering it. Yet it is striking that most usually the discussion was introduced in twelfth century writings by a reference to Boethius and to his translation of the questions of Porphyry."


    "It was as a logician that the middle ages chiefly esteemed Boethius, sometimes to the extreme of preferring him to Aristotle in translation. Although that preference yielded to others, at least Boethius was for centuries the principal source of aristotelianism in the

    west. This contribution alone must be estimated considerable, if one remember the despair of Cicero at the rendering of philosophy in the latin language; in the time of Boethius latin had already become a supple philosophic language, and for good or ill many of the

    terms of later philosophical discussions in it were originated by him." (Richard McKeon, pp. 67-69)

  • ———. 1994. "From His Second Commentary to Porphyry's Isagoge." In Five Texts on the Mediaeval Problem of Universals. Porphyry, Boethius, Abelard, Duns Scotus, Ockham, edited by Spade, Paul Vincent, 20-25. Indianapolis: Hackett.

    The passage from Boethius’s Second Commentary on Porphyry is from Book I, Chs. 10-11, of the Brandt edition (159.3-167.20).

  • ———. 1984. "Second Commentary to De interpretatione." In Aristotle's Theory of Language and Its Tradition. Texts from 500 to 1750, edited by Arens, Hans, 159-204. Amsterdam: Benjamins.

    Selection, translation and commentary by Hans Arens.

    Contents of the volume: Preface 1; 1. The extraordinary fate of Peri hermeneias 6; 2. Aristotle's text 16; 3. Commentary to Aristotle 24; 4. Ammonius: Commentary 58; 5. Commentary to Ammonius 124; 6. Boethius: Commentary 159; 7. Commentary to Boethius 205; 8. Abaelard: Glosses 231; 9. Commentary to Abaelard 303; 10. Albertus Magnus: Paraphrase 339; 11. Commentary to Albert 376; 12. Thomas Aquinas: Expositio 397; 13. Commentary to Thomas 434; 14. Martinus de Dacia: Quaestiones 458; 15. Commentary to Martin 471; 16. Johannes a S.Thoma: Ars logica 484; 17. Commentary to John of St.Thomas 507; 18. James Harris, an Aristotelian of the 18th century 514; References 523; Concordance 527; Index of Persons 530.

    The text translated is: Commentaries to Aristotle's Peri hermeneias Second edition Book I (pp. 159-204); followed by a Commentary by Hans Arens, pp. 205-230.

  • ———. 2010. Boethius: On Aristotle On Interpretation 1-3. London: Duckworth.

    Translated by Andrew Smith.

    Contents: Conventions VII; Textual Emendations VIII; Introduction 1; Translator's Note 11; Translation. Book 1 15; Book 2 57; Book 3 115; Notes 151; Select Bibliography 157; English-Latin Glossary 159; Latin-English Index 160; Index of Names 162; Subject Index 164-166.

    "Boethius’ second and larger commentary on Aristotle’s On Interpretation was written in Latin in the early sixth century AD in the style of Greek commentaries on Aristotle. Both commentaries were part of his project to bring to the Latin-speaking world knowledge of Plato and Aristotle. His project was for comprehensive translation of them and for adaptation of the Greek commentaries on them. The project was cruelly interrupted by his execution at the age of about 45 between 524 and 526 AD, leaving the Latin world under-informed about Greek Philosophy for 700 years, although his commentary on Aristotle’s On Interpretation remained the standard introduction throughout the Latin Middle Ages.

    Aristotle’s On Interpretation.

    In the first six chapters of his On Interpretation Aristotle defines name, verb, sentence, statement, affirmation and negation. This has standardly been seen as a progression beyond the subject of his Categories, which distinguishes single terms. For On Interpretation already studies the complexity of a statement, and it can be seen as pointing forward to the treatment in his Analytics of syllogistic arguments, which combine three statements, two of them premisses and one a conclusion. But C.W.A. Whitaker has argued that what turns out to interest Aristotle from Chapter 7 onwards is contradictory or contrary pairs of statements, and that these contradictory or contrary pairs relate rather to the practice of dialectical refutation discussed in Aristotle’s other logical works, the Topics and Sophistici Elenchi. (1)"

    In Chapters 8 to 10, Aristotle examines exceptions to the rule that in contradictory or contrary pairs one statement will be false and the other true. Chapter 11 addresses some puzzles about complex assertions, Chapters 12 to 13 consider pairs of statements involving possibility and necessity, while the last chapter, 14, discusses beliefs that are contrary." ( Introduction by Richard Sorabji, p. 1)

    (1) C.W.A. Whitaker, aristotle's De Intepretatione, Contradiction and Dialectic, Oxford 1996.

  • ———. 2011. Boethius: On Aristotle On Interpretation 4-6. London: Bristol Classical Press.

    Translated by Andrew Smith.

    Contents: Conventions VII; Textual Emendations VIII; Introduction 1; Translator's Note 11; Translation. Book 4 15; Book 5 60; Book 6 100; Notes 141; Select Bibliography 145; English-Latin Glossary 147; Latin-English Index 148; Index of Names 150; Subject Index 151.

  • ———. 1998. On Determinism. Ammonius On Aristotle On Interpretation 9 with Boethius On Aristotle On Interpretation 9 First and Second Commentaries. London: Duckworth.

    Ammonius translated by David Blank; Boethius translated by Norman Kretzmann.

    With essays by Richard Sorabji, Norman Kretzmann and Mario Mignucci.

    Contents: Richard Sorabji: Preface VII; Acknowledgements VIII; I. Introduction. 1. Richard Sorabji: The three deterministic argumenta opposed by Ammonius 3; 2. Richard Sorabji: Boethius, Ammonius and their different Greek backgrounds 16; 3. Norman Kretzmann: Boethius and the truth about tomorrow's sea battle 24; 4. Mario Mignucci: Ammonius’ sea battle 53; Π. Translations. Textual Emendations 89; Ammonius On Aristotle On Interpretation 9 translated by David Blank 91; Notes 118; Boethius On Aristotle On Interpretation 9 (first commentary) 129; Boethius On Aristotle On Interpretation 9 (second commentary) translated by Norman Kretzmann 146; Notes 187; Bibliography 193; English-Greek Glossary 197; Greek~English Index 200; English-Latin Glossary 207;

    Latin-English Index 210; Subject Index 213-216.

    "This is a volume on determinism. It contains the two most important commentaries on the determinist’s sea battle argument, and on other deterministic arguments besides. It includes the earliest full exposition of the Reaper argument for determinism, and a discussion of whether there can be changeless knowledge of the passage of time. It contains the two fullest expositions of the idea that it is not truth, but only definite truth, that would imply determinism.

    Ammonius and Boethius both wrote commentaries on Aristotle’s On Interpretation and on its ninth chapter where Aristotle discusses the sea battle.Their comments are crucial, for Ammonius’ commentary influenced the Islamic Middle Ages, while that of Boethius was of equal importance to medieval Latin-speaking philosophers.

    It was once argued that Boethius was influenced by Ammonius, but these translations are published together in this volume to enable the reader to see clearly that this was not the case. Ammonius draws on the fourth- and fifth-century Neoplatonists Iamblichus, Syrianus and Proclus.

    He arranges his argument around three major deterministic arguments and is our main source for one of them, the Reaper argument, which has hitherto received insufficient attention. Boethius, on the other hand, draws on controversies from 300 years earlier between Stoics and Aristotelians as recorded by Alexander of Aphrodisias and Porphyry.

    Ammonius’ commentary on the first eight chapters of Aristotle’s On Interpretation has appeared in a previously published volume in this series, translated by David Blank." ( Preface by Richard Sorabji)

  • Thörnqvist, Christina Thomsen. 2008. Anicii Manlii Severini Boethii De syllogismo categorico. Gothenburg: University of Gothenburg.

    Critical edition with introduction, translation, notes, and indexes by Christina Thomsen Thörnqvist.

    Contents: Preface X; Editions cited XIII; Introduction. I. The author, the work, and its sources. 1. The author XV; 2. The work and its sources XVIII; 3. The interrelation and the titles of the two monographs on the categorical syllogism XXIX; II. Boethius’ monographs on the categorical syllogism in the Middle Ages XLI; III. The edition. 1. The textual tradition LIII; 2. Editorial principles LXXIII; 3. The apparatus fontium and notes LXXIV; De syllogismo categorico 1; Translation 102; Notes 158; Appendix: Selected variant readings in the younger manuscripts 177; Bibliography 194; Word index 199; Index of passages 218; General index 226.

    Abstract. "The Roman statesman and philosopher Anicius Manlius Seuerinus Boethius (c. 480-c. 525) translated and wrote commentaries on most of Aristotle’s logical works. In addition, he wrote several treatises on logic, including two monographs on the categorical syllogism, which are commonly known as De syllogismo categorico and Introductio ad syllogismos categoricos. The present study is the first critical edition of the former.

    De syllogismo categorico divides into two books of which the first is an account of the categorical proposition and the second deals with the categorical syllogism. The ultimate sources are Aristotle’s Peri hermeneias and Analytica priora, but certain dispositional, terminological, and doctrinological features show that the text is heavily influenced by the tradition of the Greek commentators.

    From the rediscovery of Boethius’ logical writings in the 10th century until the mid-12th century, Aristotle’s doctrine of the categorical syllogism was known chiefly through Boethius’ De syllogismo categorico. The influence by as well as on the work is discussed in the introduction to the present study.

    The reconstitution of the text rests on collation of 47 manuscripts dating from the 10th to the 15th century. An analysis of the interrelation of the manuscripts leads to the conclusion that all extant manuscripts descend from a common archetype but that the tradition is severely contaminated and cannot be described by means of a stemma codicum. The text is primarily based on the sixteen earliest text witnesses, among which a formal hierarchy is established. The Latin text is presented with a critical apparatus, an apparatus fontium, an English translation, notes, and indexes. Selected variant readings in the later manuscripts are reported in an appendix."

  • Boethius. 1988. In Ciceronis Topica. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

    Translated, with notes and an introduction by Eleonore Stump.

    Contents: Acknowledgments IX; Abbreviations XI; Introduction 1; In Ciceronis Topica: Book I 21; Introduction: The Purpose of Topics 22; The Nature of Logic 25; The Nature of Topics 29; The Division of Topics 36; Book II 49; Introduction: The Nature of Related Things 50; The Topic from related things 55; An Extrinsic Topic 72; Book III 75; Introduction: The Relationship of Topics to the Thing at Issue 75; Definition 84; Book IV 105; Partition 106; Designation 108; Related Things 110; Book V 132; Introduction: The Nature and Sorts of Conditional Propositions 133; The Seven Stoic Modes of Hypothetical Syllogism 135; Causes 154; Book VI 167; Introduction: Review of The Nature of Topics 168; Causes 169; Effects and Comparison 171; The Division of Topics 176; The Extrinsic Topic 179; Notes to the Translation. Book I 185; Book II 194; Book III 205; Book IV 214; Book V 224; Book VI 240; Appendix: Categories and Predicables 244; Selected Bibliography 256; Indexes 265-277.

    "Boethius's In Ciceronis Topica is one of two treatises Boethius wrote on the subject of the Topics or loci. The other treatise is De top. diff., (11) one of the last philosophical works he composed.(12) Together these two treatises present Boethius's theory of the art of discovering arguments, a theory that was enormously influential in the history of medieval logic. (13) De top. diff. is a fairly short treatise, but it is Boethius's advanced book on the subject; it is written in a concise, even crabbed style, and it clearly presupposes acquaintance with the subject matter. In contrast, ICT is Boethius's elementary treatise on the Topics. It was written shortly before De top. diff. (14) and is a commentary on Cicero's Topica, though it is a much larger and more comprehensive work than the Topica; it is more than twice as long as the more tightly knit De top. diff." (p. 4)


    According to Boethius, who is dependent on both the Greek and Latin traditions, (22) two different sorts of things are Topics: a Topic is both a maximal proposition and the Differentia (23) of a maximal proposition. On Boethius's view, a maximal proposition is a self-evidently true, universal generalization, such as 'Things whose definitions are different are themselves also different.' Boethian Topics of this sort probably have as their ancestors the Aristotelian Topics that are principles. Their official function, on Boethius's account, is to aid in the discovery of arguments, but in practice Boethius tends to use them to confirm arguments. (24) Differentiae are theoretically the differentiae dividing the genus maximal proposition into its subaltern genera and species, and in that capacity they serve to classify maximal propositions into groups. Some maximal propositions have to do with definition, for example, and other with genus; so from definition and from genus are Differentiae. Much more importent, however, is the role Differentiae play in Boethius's method for the discovery of dialectical arguments. For the most part, Boethius thinks of dialectical arguments as having categorical rather than conditional conclusions, and he conceives of the discovery of an argument as the discovery of a middle term capable of linking the two terms of the desired conclusion. Boethian Differentiae are, for the most part, the genera of such middle terms. (In those cases where the arguments are hypothetical rather than categorical, Boethius generally but not invariably thinks of Topics as validating the conditional proposition in the argument.) To find an argument using Boethius's method, one first chooses an appropriate Differentia (criteria for appropriateness are left to the arguer's intuition). The genus of middle terms, determined by the Differentia chosen, and the two terms of the desired conclusion then indicate the specific middle term of the argument and so indicate a dialectical argument supporting the conclusion." (pp. 4-6)

    (11) An edition of this text can be found in J.-P. Migne, patrologia Latina (PL), vol. LXIV (Turnhout: Brepols: n.d.), 1174-1216. For a translation and notes, see Stump 1978.

    (12) de Rijk, "On the Chronology of Boethius' Works on Logic. Part II", Vivarium, 2, 1964: 159-160.

    (13) See Stump 1978, and idem, "Topics: Their Development and Absorption into Consequences," in Norman Kretmann et al. eds., The Cambridge History of Later Medieval Philosophy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982), pp. 273-299. See also Niels J. Green-Pedersen, The Tradition of the Topics in the Middle Ages (Munich: Philosophia Verlag, 1984).

    (14) de Rijk 1964: 159-161.

    (22) For a summary of the controversy over Boethius's sources, see Stump "Boethius Works on the Topics", Boethius Works on the Topics" Vivarium, 12, 1974, 77-93.

    (23) I am capitalizing 'Differentia' here to distinguish this technical use of the word from its more ordinary use designating one of the predicables.

    (24) For a detailed analysis of Boethius's use and understanding of Topics, see Stump 1978, especially pp. 179-204.

    [For a modern edition of Cicero's Topica, see: Cicero's Topica, Edited with an Introduction, Translation, and Commentary by Tobias Reinhardt, New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.]

  • ———. 1978. De topicis differentiis. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

    Translated, with notes and essays on the text, by Eleonore Stump.

    Contents: Abbreviations 11; Introduction 13; Part One. De topicis differentiis. Book I 29; Book II 43; Book III 63; Book IV 79; Notes to the Translation. Book I 97; Book II 110; Book III 128; Book IV 141; Part Two. Dialectic in Ancient and Medieval Logic. Dialectic and Aristotle's Topics 159; Dialectic and Boethius's De topicis differentiis 179; Between Aristotle and Boethius 205; Peter of Spain on the Topics 215; Differentia and the Porphyrian Tree 237; Differentia 248; Bibliography 263; Indexes 275-287.

    "This book is a philosophical study of Boethius's treatise De topicis differentiis. It includes the first English translation of this historically and philosophically important text, as well as copious notes designed to make the text accessible to philosophers and scholars interested in the medieval period. Detailed philosophical analyses of the text and of important technical concepts, such as the concept of the predicables, are worked out in the chapters of Part II. Chapters on Aristotle's Topics and the treatise on dialectic in Peter of Spain's Tractatus explain the work of these philosophers on the Topics and explore the relationship of their views to those of Boethius. My principal aim is to make Boethius's treatise available and comprehensible to scholars for whom the technical Latin vocabulary and unfamiliar subject matter have made it inaccessible." ( Preface, p. 7)


    "Boethius's De topicis differentiis is concerned with the discovery of arguments. As there is a method for judging or evaluating arguments (what we call 'logic'), so, Boethius thinks, there is also a method for finding arguments. The method varies somewhat, depending on whether the arguments sought will be used in rhetoric for legal or political speeches or in dialectic for philosophical inquiry. Most of Boethius's attention is given to the method as used in dialectic, but the fourth and last Book of the treatise examines the method as used in rhetoric and compares it with that used in dialectic.

    Whether the method for finding arguments is rhetorical or dialectical, its main instrument is something called a Topic (in Latin, 'locus'). 'Topic' is the standard English translation for the Greek 'τόπος' (the Aristotelian counterpart of 'locus'), which means, literally, a place or area. A certain sort of Topic that plays a role in the ancient methods for memorization antedates and is probably the source for the kind of Topic used in discovering arguments. In the art of memorizing, a Topic is a place, in the literal sense, which the memorizer pictures in his mind and from which he recalls what he wants to remember. He familiarizes himself with some large edifice in which a number of places are picked out as the τόποι to aid memory, and these places are fixed in the memory in their actual order of occurrence in the edifice. Then the speech, or whatever is being memorized, is divided into parts, and a vivid image is associated with each of the parts. The memorizer pictures these images put into the places of the edifice in their appropriate order. When he is delivering his speech, he imagines himself walking through the edifice, going from place to place, and finding in each place the image he put there. Each image reminds him of a certain part of his speech; and in this way he uses the τόποι to recall the entire speech, part by part, in order. (7)" pp. 15-16)


    " De top. diff. is Boethius's definitive work on the Topics. In it he considers two different sets of dialectical Topics, one of which he finds in Cicero's Topica and the other of which stems from the Greek commentator Themistius (ca. 320-390); and he attempts to reconcile the two sets of dialectical Topics. He also discusses rhetorical Topics, and he concludes the treatise by comparing rhetorical and dialectical Topics to make their similarities and differences clear. Because it is an advanced work with a broad scope of material, De top. diff. does not devote much attention to the way in which a Topic functions to find an argument. One is likelier to find such discussion in the more elementary In Ciceronis Topica. Instead, in De top. diff. Boethius contents himself with describing the various Topics and giving examples using each, with a minimum of explanation about the basic method. In the chapter on Boethius, I have explained what I think his technique for finding arguments is and how it works." (p. 17)

    (7) Cf. Frances Yates, The Art of Memory (London, 1966); Frances Yates, 'The Ciceronian Art of Memory," Medioevo e rinascimento (Florence, 1955), II, 871-903; Harry Caplan, tr., Rhetorica ad Herennium (Cambridge, Mass., 1954); and Richard Sorabji, Aristotle on Memory (London, 1972).

  • ———. 1988. "On Division." In Logic and Philosophy of Language, edited by Kretzmann, Norman and Stump, Eleonore, 11-38. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    The Cambridge Translations of Medieval Philosophical Texts. Vol 1.

    "De divisione was probably written sometime between 505 and 509. It is a study of different sorts of division - e.g., the division of a genus into its species or the division of a whole into its integral parts - an important part of the logical heritage on which the scholastic period built. Boethius investigates the way in which these various divisions are distinguished from one another and the logical relations between whatever is being divided (or analyzed, or classified) and its dividing elements. For example, he points out that a genus is naturally prior to its species but a whole is naturally posterior to its integral parts; if a genus is destroyed, so are all its species, but if a whole is destroyed, some of its integral parts may remain. A large part of the treatise is devoted to the division of genus into species, in connection with which Boethius deals extensively with the predicables (genus, species, definition, differentia, proprium, and accident), their interrelationships, and the way they combine to form a Porphyrian tree." (pp. 11-12)

  • ———. 1998. De Divisione Liber. Leiden: Brill.

    Critical edition, translation, prolegomena and commentary by John Magee.

    Contents: Acknowledgements IX; Abbreviations XI; Boethian Editions Cited XIII; Prolegomena XV; Date of De divisione XVII; Boethius, Porphyry, and Andronicus XXXIV; Textual Tradition of De divisione LVIII; De divisione 1; Commentary 53; Appendix: Elenchus Lectionum Singularium Selectarum 171; Bibliography 177; Word Index 187; Index of Passages 200; General Index 222-224.

    Date of composition: "All things considered, the period between 515 and 520 seems a safe surmise." (p. XXXIII)

    "Like all of Boethius' writings, De divisione looks both back to Antiquity and ahead to the Middle Ages. (1) It was copied with great frequency for use in the medieval schools, the MSS in which it is preserved being outnumbered only, among Boethius’ works, by those of De differentiis topicis and the Consolatio. And in addition to the commentaries of Peter Abelard, Albert the Great, and Antonius Andreae, there is a wealth of glossed MSS, florilegia, and indirect evidence to suggest that De divisione proved of enduring interest to medieval students from the later tenth century on. This would have pleased Boethius, who in the proem evinces particular concern for the utilitas of the treatise in the context of the Latin-speaking world. As for Antiquity, there is an important lost tradition underlying De divisione. More precisely, in the proem and conclusion Boethius mentions two works which are otherwise completely unattested: a “book” on diaeresis by Andronicus of Rhodes (1st c. BC) (2) and a “commentary” on Plato’s Sophist by Porphyry (b. AD 232/3). (3) The lost ancient tradition is the concern of the present discussion, and I begin with the relevant passages. In the proem and conclusion Boethius indicates:

    (1) that Andronicus published a book on diaeresis, in which he (Andronicus) remarked (a) that diaeresis is a method of great utility and (b) that the Peripatos (before Andronicus) had always held the method in high esteem: Quam magnos studiosis afferat fructus scientia diuidendi quamque apud Penpateticam disciplinam semper haec fient in honore notitia, docet et Andronici diligentissimi senis De diuisione liber editus (4,3ff.);

    (2) that Plotinus approved of or recommended Andronicus’ book: et hic idem a Plotino grauissimo philosopho comprobatus (4,5f.);

    (3) that Porphyry (consequently) adapted Andronicus’ book for his commentary on Plato’s Sophist: et in Platonis librì qui Sophistes inscrìbitur commentariis a Porphyrio repetitus (4,6f.);

    (4) that the later Peripatos (a) distinguished between diaeresis in the essential and incidental senses and (b) made subdivisions of each: Posterior quidem Peripateticae secta prudentiae differentias diuisionum diligentissima ratione perspexit et per se diuisionem ab ea quae est secundum accidens ipsasque inter se disiunxit atque distribuii (48,26ff.);

    (5) that, by contrast, the earlier Peripatetics indiscriminately employed accidents in place of genera, species, and differentiae: antiquiores autem indifferenter et accidente pro genere et accidentibus pro speciebus aut differentiis utebantur (50,1 f.); and

    (6) that the promiscuous “earlier” usage drove Boethius to explain how the various kinds of division are (a) similar to and (b) different from one another: unde nobis peropportuna utilitas uisa est et commumones harum diuisionum prodere et eas propriis differentiis disgregare (50,2ff.)." (pp. XXXIV-XXXV)

    (1) The following is based on my “Boethius ... and Andronicus;” points of detail are treated in the commentary.

    (2) The complicated issues of Andronicus’ precise dates and scholarchship I pass over here. One may consult, among others, Moraux, Aristotelismus I 45fF., with Tarân’s review, esp. 73 Iff., and Gottschalk, “Commentators” 55ff.

    (3) A. Smith, (ed.) Porphyry Philosophi Fragmenta xf., and “Studies” 750, treats the “bulk” of Dio. as a Porphyrian fragment (169F). Although preferable to treating it as an Andronicean one, this entails complications of its own.

    Ancient Commentaries on Boethius’ De divisione:

    - Pietro Abelardo, Scritti filosofici: Editio super Porphyrium - Glossae in Categorias - Super Aristotelem De Interpretatione - De divisionibus - Super Topica glossae. Edited by Mario Dal Pra. Rome-Milan 1954, pp. 155-203.

    - B. Alberti Magni Ord. Praed. commentarii in librum Boethii De divisione: Editio prìnceps. Edited by Fr. P.M. von Loë, O.P. Bonn 1913.

    - Robert Kilwardby’s Writings on the Logica Vetus Studied with Regard to Their Teaching and Method. Edited by P.O. Lewry, O.P. (unpublished Dissertation), Oxford 1978, pp. 408-12.

    - Antonij Andree super artem veterem. Scripts: seu Expositiones Antonij Andree super artem veterem: et super Boetium de divisionibus: cum questionibus eiusdem. Venice 1517. Fols. 89vb-103b.

  • ———. 1983. Boethian Number Theory. Amsterdam: Rodopi.

    Translation, with introduction and notes, of the De institutione arithmetica by Michael Masi.

    Contents: Preface 9; Boethian Number Theory 11; The Iconography of the Liberal Arts and the Boethian Arithmetic 13; Boethian Number Theory and Music 23; Arithmetic Proportion and the Medieval Cathedral 31; Medieval Literature andf the Theory of Number 39; De Institutione Arithmetica: Commentaries and Derivative Works 49; Manuscripts Containing the De Institutione Arithmetica 58; A View of Bethius' Life and Works 64; Boethius, to Symmachus, his Lord, the Patrician 66; Boethius, De Institutione Arithmetica 71; Bibliography 189-197.

    "The consistency, even into the Renaissance, of the Liberal Arts curriculum, (1) its essentially mathematical nature, its influence beyond the quadrivium on music theory and practice, and its bearing on the nature of aesthetics (2) are all revelant to the basic concepts outlined in Boethius’ De Institutione Arithmetica. Not only does the name of Boethius appear repeatedly in discussions of proportions and harmony, but numerous manuscripts and publications of his works and commentaries on the De Institutione Arithmetica continued with undiminished, even increased, vigor into the sixteenth century.

    Before I present an outline of this scope of influence, the distinction between practical and theoretical mathematics should be clarified in order to help avoid a common misunderstanding. The modem meaning of arithmetic conveys nothing of what it meant for Boethius. The difference between arithemetic (Αριθμητική ) and logistics ( Λογιστική ) was the same for Boethius as it was for the Greeks who originally defined it. (3) Both disciplines deal with numbers, but arithmetic designates the theory or philosophy of number, only after the Middle Ages did the term designate an elementary discipline of counting and calculation. The process whereby one undertook the solution of practical problems of computation was known to the Greeks and to Boethius as logistics and to the Middle

    Ages as algorism. (4)

    The nature and scope of number theory is adequately explained in the first chapter of the De Institutione Arithmetica -- it is essentially a preparatory study for philosophy. As such, among the Neo-Pythagoreans, it had a fundamentally moral character and bespoke the order of the world in its most basic terms. The expression of this order was eventually, in the other disciplines of the quadrivium, expanded into musical terminology where it acquired the dimension of harmony; in the study of geometry, it was extended to plane surfaces and solid figures. In astronomy, the geometric measurements and the metaphor of harmony found their widest applications in the definition of the order of the universe and in the supreme model of concord, the music of the spheres.

    To demonstrate within the limits of this introduction the pervasiveness of Boethius’ treatise on the study of number theory, its importance as a preparatory study for music, and the bearing of number theory on architecture, literature, and moral philosophy, I have organized my discussion under five headings. With each I have provided adequate bibliography so that those interested in particular applications of this number theory may pursue and test the application of principles in the De Institutione Arithmetica to other disciplines. The five headings are: (I) The Iconography of the Liberal Arts; (II) the De Institutione Arithmetica and the De Institutione Musica in the theoretical writings of later musicologists; (III) Arithmetic proportion and architecture; (IV) Literary extensions of the Theory of Number; (V) Commentaries, derivative studies, and extant manuscripts." (pp. 11-12)

    (1) Trivium: grammar, rhetoric, logic; Quadrivium: arithmetic, music, geometry, astronomy.

    (2) See various chapters in E. de Bruyne Études d'esthetique médiévale (Bruges, De Tempel, 1946).

    (3) See Sir Thomas Heath, A History of Greek Mathematics (Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1921), Vol. I, pp. 13-16.

    (4) See Nicomachus of Gerasa, Introduction to Arithmetic, trans. Martin Luther D'ooge, intro. Frank E. Robbins and L.C. Karpinski (New York), Macmillan,1926, pp. 3-4; Plato, Gorgias Sec. 451C; Theatetus, Sec. 145A, 198A. For the Middle Ages, see A.C. Crombie, Medieval and Early Modem Science (New York, Anchor Books, 1959), Vol. I, pp. 50-51.

  • Palisca, Claude, ed. 1989. Boethius. Fundamentals of Music. New Haven: Yale University Press.

    Translated, with introduction and notes by Calvin M. Bower.

    Contents: Preface by Series Editor Claude V. Palisca XIII; Translator's Preface XVII; Introductio XIX-XLIV; Book 1 1; Book 2 52; Book 3 88; Book 4 115; Book 5 162; Appendix 1: Chapters 20-30 of Book 5 181; Appendix 2: Notes on the Text of the Spartan Decree 185; Appendix 3: Notes on the Diagrams and their Sources 189; Index 197-205.

    "Shortly after the turn of the sixth century a young Roman patrician began to record in Latin the sources and background of his exceptional Greek education. Although it is uncertain that he ever studied in Athens or Alexandria, those fifth-century centers of liberal learning and philosophy fundamentally shaped his thinking, even to the extent of determining his literary and pedagogical objectives. He would lay a scientific foundation by writing on four mathematical disciplines—the quadrivium as he collectively called them. Thereafter he would translate and comment on the Organon of Aristotle and, building on the mathematical disciplines and Aristotelian logic, would finally approach the philosophical writings of Plato and Aristotle and the world of metaphysics. (1)

    In this context, Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius (480-524) wrote the treatise entitled De institutione musica, one of his earliest works, probably around the middle of the first decade of the sixth century. It was intended to be read along with the De institutione arithmetica and may have been one of four works setting out the foundations of Platonic scientific education: arithmetic, music, geometry, and astronomy. None of the mathematical works—or even the logical works—was considered original by Boethius or his contemporaries. Boethius’s early works record in Latin what he was reading in Greek. Reading, translating, writing, and commenting formed an integrated process through which Boethius appropriated for his culture works that not only were unknown but that in most cases surpassed the superficial dabblings in science and logic from the golden and silver ages of Roman civilization. Scholars such as Marius Victorinus und Apuleius of Madaura had produced scientific translations for Latin readers of the fourth and fifth centuries, but Boethius carried the genre to new levels of rigor and thoroughness. Written for a cultural elite already initiated into philosophical literature, Boethius's mathematical and logical works represent one of the most notable projects in intellectual history of preserving and transmitting a corpus of knowledge from one culture to another. (2)

    No evidence has been found that Boethius’s mathematical works were read between his short lifetime and the ninth century. But when liberal learning saw a rebirth in the Carolingian era, Boethius’s treatises on arithmetic and music reappeared as authoritative works on these disciplines, rivaled only by Martianus Capella’s De nuptiis Philologiae et Mercurii. (3) When a tradition of independent musical treatises began in the ninth century, Boethius’s treatise became the unique source for the thorough mathematical underpinning of Western musical theory. It is ironic that this work intended as an approach to logic and philosophy would essentially shape the most illiberal of the liberal arts. (4)" (pp. XIX-XX)


    "An overview of the structure of the five extant books should assist the reader in placing the musical details of the treatise in perspective. Book 1 forms a self-contained introduction to the discipline, whereas books 2 and 3 present mathematical demonstrations of propositions introduced in book 1. Book 4 applies the mathematical principles developed in books 2 and 3 to the monochord and presents the theory of modes. Finally, book 5 introduces the reader to the mathematical and musical subtleties of Ptolemy." (p. XXIX)

    (1) For a thorough study of Boethius’s life, see Henry Chadwick, Boethius: The Consolations of Music, Logic, Theology, and Philosophy (Oxford, 1981), pp. 1-68. Also informative is John Matthews, “Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius,” in Boethius: His Life, Thought and Influence, ed. Margaret Gibson (Oxford, 1981), pp. 15-43.

    (2) Concerning the complex question of Boethius’s literary precursors and his audience, see Helen Kirkby, “The Scholar and his Public,” in Boethius: His Life, Thought and Influence, pp. 44-69.

    (3) See Martianus Capella, ed. Adolf Dick, with addenda by Jean Préaux (Stuttgart, 1969); also Martianus Capella and the Seven Liberal Arts, vol. 1, William Harris Stahl, The Quadrivium of Martianus Capella, Latin Translations in the Mathematical Sciences, 50 B.C.-A.D. 1250, and Richard Johnson with E. L. Burge, A Study of the Allegory and the Verbal Disciplines (New York and London, 1971); vol. 2, The Marriage of Philology and Mercury, trans. W. H. Stahl and R. Johnson with E. L. Burge (New York, 1977).

    (4) For the tradition of Boethius’s treatise in the early Middle Ages, see Calvin M. Bower, “The Role of Boethius’ De institutione musica in the Speculative Tradition of Western Musical Thought,” in Boethius and the Liberal Arts: A Collection of Essays, ed. Michael Masi, Utah Studies in Literature and Linguistics 18 (Bern, Frankfurt, and Las Vegas, 1981), pp. 157-74; and Alison White, “Boethius in the Medieval Quadrivium,” in Boethius: His Life, Thought and Influence, pp. 162-205.

  • Boethius. 1973. The Theological Tractates and the Consolation of Philosophy: Text and Translations. London: Heinemann.

    The Loeb Classical Library; new edition; Latin text and English translation.

    The Theological Tractates translated by H. F. Stewart, E. K. Rand and S. J. Tester; The Consolation of Philosophy translated by S. J. Tester.

    Contents: Note on the Text VII; Introduction IX; Bibliography XV; The Theological Tractates 2; The Consolation of Philosophy 128; Symmachi versus 412; Index 415-420.

    "A seventeenth-century translation of the Consolatio philosophiae is here presented with such alterations as are demanded by a better text, and the requirements of modem scholarship. There was, indeed, not much to do, for the rendering is most exact. This in a translation of that date is not a little remarkable. We look for fine English and poetry in an Elizabethan; but we do not often get from him such loyalty to the original as is here displayed.

    Of the author “ I. T.” nothing is known. He may have been John Thorie, a Fleming born in London in 1568, and a B.A. of Christ Church, 1586. Thorie “ was a person well skilled in certain tongues, and a noted poet of his times ” (Wood, Athenae Oxon. ed. Bliss, I. 624), but his known translations are apparently all from the Spanish. (a)

    Our translator dedicates his “ Five books of Philosophical Comfort” to the Dowager Countess of Dorset, widow of Thomas Sackville, who was part author of A Mirror for Magistrates and Gorboduc, and who, we learn from I. T's preface, meditated a similar work. I. T. does not unduly flatter his patroness, and he tells her plainly that she will not understand the philosophy of the book, though the theological and practical parts may be within her scope.

    The Opuscula Sacra have never before, to our knowledge, been translated. In reading and rendering them we have been greatly helped by two mediaeval commentaries: one by John the Scot (edited by E. K. Rand in Traube’s Quellen und Untersuchungen, vol. I. pt. 2, Munich, 1906); the other by Gilbert de la Porrée (printed in Migne, P.L. LXIV.)."

    (a) Mr. G. Bayley Poison suggests with greater probability that I. T. was John Thorpe (fl. 1570-1610), architect to Thomas Sackville, Karl of Dorset. Cf. American Journal of Philology, vol. XIII. (1921), p. 266.

  • ———. 1991. "De hebdomadibus." In Being and Goodness. The Concept of the Good in Metaphysics and Philosophical Theology, edited by MacDonald, Scott, 299-304. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

    Translation by Scott MacDonald.

    "The Latin texts are Boethius 1978a and Peiper 1871. The line numbers from Rand’s text are given in angle brackets in the text of the translation. In preparing this translation, I have consulted the translations of Stewart, Rand, and Tester in Boethius 1978a, Boethius 1981, and de Rijk’s suggestions for translating the axioms in de Rijk 1987." (p. 299)


    Boethius 1978a. The Theological Tractates and the Consolation of Philosophy: Text and Translations. Ed. and trans. H. F. Stewart, E. K. Rand, and S. J. Tester. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

    Boethius 1981. “How Are Substances Good Insofar as They Exist, Since They Are Not Substantial Goods? ( De hebdomadibus) (Preliminary draft). Trans. Paul Vincent Spade. Translation Clearing House, Department of Philosophy, Oklahoma State University.

    Boethius 1871. Anicii Manlii Severini Boetii Philosophiae Consolationis Atque Opuscula Sacra. Ed. Rudolph Peiper. Leipzig: Teubner.

    Rijk, L. M. de. 1987. “On Boethius’ Notion of Being: A Chapter in Boethian Semantics.” In Meaning and Inference in Medieval Philosophy: Studies in Memory of Jan Pinborg, ed. Norman Kretzmann. Dordrecht: Kluwer.

  • ———. 1999. The Consolation of Philosophy. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

    Translated with introduction and explanatory notes by Patrick Gerard Walsh.

    "This is an appropriate time to launch a new translation of The Consolation of Philosophy. In the past few years there has been a significant revival of interest in Boethius; this has been marked by several studies which have partially restored him to the prominence which he enjoyed for over a millennium from the Carolingian age onwards. My rendering, with its accompanying Introduction and annotation, has sought to exploit these important researches.

    The translation is based on Ludwig Bieler’s admirable edition in the Corpus Christianorum series. The annotations have benefited conspicuously from the notable commentary of J. Gruber. Henry Chadwick’s general study of Boethius, and the volume of essays edited by the late-lamented Margaret Gibson entitled Boethius, his Life, Thought, and Influence, have furnished much of the information on which the Introduction is based. My debts to Gerard O’Daly’s The Poetry of Boethius for interpretation of the verses, and to R. W. Sharpies’ edition of the taxing philosophical content of Books 4-5, will be obvious from the frequent citations in the notes. Details of these works are presented in the Select Bibliography." (from the Preface)

    "Summary of the Treatise.

    Book 1. As the prisoner grieves over his downfall and impending fate, Lady Philosophy appears before him. Initially he fails to recognize her, but once recognition dawns he pours out to her his resentment at the iniquity of Fortune. His devoted public service has ended in his condemnation; the order evident in the world of nature does not extend to the just treatment of humankind. Philosophy diagnoses his ailment; blinded by vicious emotions, he has forgotten how the world is ordered. She promises initially a gentler cure.

    Book 2. Lady Philosophy denounces the prisoner’s bitter indictment of Fortune, against whom he has no real complaint. Fortune herself is invoked to justify her ways with men. Hitherto she has favoured him, and the inconstancy she now shows is at one with the similar pattern in nature. Philosophy insists that his present life has its material consolations, but true happiness is not to be sought in them. She reviews the worldly goods to which men aspire, and successively rejects wealth, ambition for high position, and the pursuit of fame as avenues to happiness. Fortune benefits man more when adverse than when favourable.

    Book 3. Before explaining where true happiness is to be found, Lady Philosophy reiterates that the quests for riches, high position, and fame, and additionally physical pleasure, are defective ways of seeking the true good. The true avenue is reversion to our beginnings. The prisoner’s former wealth, the tenure of public office, the kingship under which he has served, the desire for fame, the pursuit of bodily pleasure, the reliance on physical strength and beauty are all false goods which fail to attain sensation, imagination, reason, and understanding; these correspond with the four levels of existence, namely immobile life, that of the lower animals, the human, and the divine. The reconciliation between Providence and free will is achieved at the fourth level of divine understanding. God’s knowledge is always in the present, not in the future or past. Though from the divine aspect all future events will be necessary, in their own nature some will be necessary but others freely chosen. In this sense the freedom of the will remains intact."

  • ———. 2001. The Consolation of Philosophy. Indianapolis: Hackett.

    Translated, with introduction and notes, by Joel C. Relihan.

    "Principles of translation.

    Latin poetry does not rhyme; its rhythms, far more complex than those of English, are not related to the accents of the words themselves but to the succession of long and short syllables; that is to say, they depend upon the length of time that it takes to pronounce each syllable. The music of Latin poetry is accordingly quite polyphonic; sometimes word accent agrees with verse accent, and sometimes conflicts with it. Within this rhythmic environment is found a highly artificial poetic language: The great Latin poets (Vergil, Horace, Ovid) did not just write memorable works in verse but, for each writer who came after them, offered new solutions to the old problem of how to fit the Latin language into the shapes of Greek verse. Consequently, every Latin poem is a mosaic of phrases learned from earlier poems; the reading of any Latin poem is a complicated intertextual game, as even a lone word in a given place in a line of a certain rhythm may evoke associations with an earlier poem that then becomes part of the context in which the new poem is meant to be read.

    There are thirty-nine poems in Consolation, written in a wide range of meters and combinations of meters. The poetic nature of the text cannot be ignored; only Satyricon and Martianus Capella’s Marriage come close to the richness of its mixture of prose and verse. No English translation of a Latin poem can hope to mirror the music of these Latin originals, or the complexities of their associations with the whole of Latin literature. That is for specialists; students curious to see Boethius the poet in his workshop, adapting the themes and language of his originals, may be referred to the study of O’Daly, [ Poetry of Boethius, Chapel Hill and London, The University of North Carolian Press] 1991. What I have done here, and what has not been done before in the long history of translation of

    Consolation into English, is reproduce through English accents the rhythms and meters of the original poems. I have thought it important to do so in order to make the reader stop and take the poems seriously; there is a tendency to take the poems as mere metrical restatements of the arguments of the preceding prose sections. I would claim that in fact the poems often shift the focus of arguments, or redirect them in surprising ways; the reader needs to linger on them. The rhythms of the Latin will for the most part not be familiar; I have included accent marks to show where the stresses should fall, and have added in the notes to each poem a brief discussion of the meter and its associations. The reader needs to know only that the stress marks are intended to have their Latin force: That is, they show where the syllables should be dragged out a bit, pronounced more slowly, given more time. (1) It is possible for other English accents to be heard against this background, and I flatter myself in thinking that the resulting synthesis of these two competing rhythms, while not the equivalent of the Latin complexity, makes a worthy music of its own.

    The language of poetry is not the language of prose. I have tried to represent the prose speeches of the participants in this dialogue with full respect for what may be called their pedanticisms and niceties: And so it is for this very reason that . . . ; it cannot in any way be doubted . . . ; I see that that is indeed the logical consequence. . . . Consolation tells of the worlds of God and of mortals, of timeless reality and physical things, and I have not tried to substitute, as would be the standard translation practice, more elegant English abstract nouns for these crucial “things". " (pp. XXVIII-XXIX)

    (1) Stress marks fall on the second element of a diphthong (e.g., eách). When on the first element, they help suggest a polysyllabic pronunciation (e.g., concéaled is trisyllabic at IV.m.5.9.).

    (2) For example, IV.6.9: “Should one look at the force of these two terms in one’s own mind, it will appear quite easily that they are different; for Providence is the divine reason itself, established in the highest ruler of all things, which arranges all things; Fate is the arrangement that inheres in the things that have motion, the arrangement through which Providence weaves all things together in their proper orders.” In the verse sections, necessities of meter at times force me to exploit a fuller range of translation options.

  • Sharples, Robert W., ed. 1991. Cicero: On Fate (De fato): & Boethius: The Consolation of Philosophy (Philosophiae consolationis) IV. 5-7, V. Warminster, England: Aris & Phillips.

    Contents: Preface VI; Note on abbreviations IX; Introduction. 1. Cicero and the Latin reception of Greek philosophy 1; 2. The place of On fate among Cicero’s philosophical works 3; 3. The freewill problem before Cicero; 3.1 Causation 6; 3.2 Future truth and possibility 11; 4. Cicero’s treatise On Fate: plan and sources; 4.1 The plan of the work 16; 4.2 Cicero’s sources 20; 5. An evaluation of Cicero’s treatise 23; 6. The influence of Cicero’s treatise 24; 7. Divine foreknowledge from Cicero to Boethius 25; 8. Fate and providence 29; 9. The problem of evil 31; 10. Boethius’ life and works 34; 11. The Consolation of Philosophy 37; 12. The sources and arguments of IV.5-7) and V 41; 13. The Consolation and Christianity 46; 14. The influence of the Consolation of Philosophy 48;

    14. On the texts 49; Sigla 51; Text and translation: Cicero, On fate 52; Appendix: Parallel texts 92; Boethius, Consolation of Philosophy IV.5-7 and V 102; Commentary: Cicero, On fate 159; Appendix: Parallel texts 196; Excursus: Terminology for Causes 198; Boethius, Consolation of Philosophy IV.5-7 and V 202; Select Bibliography 233; Index 241-244.

    "The two texts considered here are linked by more than one common feature. They are examples of the writings of the two men who did more to communicate Greek philosophy to the Latin-speaking West than anyone else in antiquity, with the possible exceptions of Augustine and (in one particular field) Lucretius. They are works which reflect two very different branches of the tradition that goes back to Plato, or to Plato’s Socrates. Cicero writes as a follower of the sceptical New Academy, which derived its readiness to challenge dogmatic positions from Socrates even if its belief that certainty is impossible was not one he would have shared; Boethius’ Consolation is in the tradition of the revived dogmatic Platonism of the Imperial period, a Platonism that welcomed, and made use of, ideas from Aristotle as well as from Plato. They are works of philosophy written by two men each of whom played a part in the public life of their times - and paid with their own lives for doing so; though there is the difference that Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy was written when its author was already under sentence of death, while Cicero’s On Fate was written in haste as its author was planning the return to the political arena that was ultimately to be his downfall. Above all, however - and this is the justification for uniting the two texts, or rather one fragmentary text and one partial extract, in this single volume - they represent two stages in a story, the story of man’s attempt to understand whether he is or is not in control of his own destiny; this story in one guise or another pervades the literature of antiquity, and is not finished yet.

    That said, there are also great differences between the two texts. Cicero’s treatise On Fate survives in fragmentary form only; we may have about two-thirds of the whole text, but it lacks its beginning and its end, and there are major gaps which seriously affect our interpretation of the whole. Questions concerning the literary form and structure of the treatise as originally composed, of Cicero’s sources and of philosophical interpretation are here all closely intertwined with one another, giving this work a particular fascination over and above that of the subject-matter itself; but, while it has been extensively quarried for technical discussions, and extensive extracts have been included in source-books, English readers have been poorly served until now as far as the availability in a single volume of a reliable continuous text and translation is concerned.

    The situation with Boethius’ Consolation could hardly be more different. It is one of the major works of world literature; the work that - along perhaps with Augustine’s City of God - marks the boundary between ancient and medieval thought; a work which profoundly influenced the thought of the Middle Ages; a work translated into English by, among others, Alfred the Great, Chaucer, and Elizabeth the First. It is a daunting prospect to write about such a work, a work moreover that can be approached from many different perspectives: its relation to earlier Latin literature both in prose and in poetry, its relation to Boethius’ philosophical interests on the one hand and his Christian beliefs on the other, its influence on later thought and literature. In a book of the present size it would scarcely be possible to do justice to all these perspectives; given the reason for including Cicero and Boethius together in this book in the first place, I hope that my comments may at least be helpful for those who wish to consider the part of the Consolation here included as a stage in a particular philosophical debate.

    That, too, must be the justification for violating Boethius’ design by including only a part of the whole, even though it is the final part and culmination. I can only hope that those who read the end of the work here will want to go on and read what precedes. Boethius does mark a new stage in the discussion by Philosophy’s observation that “You summon me to a matter which involves the greatest enquiry of all"; the reason for including the end of book 4 as well as book 5 is that it introduces the question of how fortune and freedom are to be reconciled with the divine providence which has formed the topic of the discussion since 3.12." ( Preface, VI-VII).

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