The Consolation of Philosophy


We have prepared a collection of key passages from this most influential work of the late antiquity and early Middle Ages, a dialogue between the author, unjustly imprisoned, and Lady Philosophy who comes to restore his mind to the certainties of the contemplative life. The Consolation has been translated into English, among others, by Alfred the Great, Geoffrey Chaucer and Queen Elizabeth I.

Eternity is the entire and perfect possession of endless life at a single instant… The endless motion of the things in time imitate the single present of God’s changeless intellect… His knowledge transcends the movement of time and exists only in a single, simple, unified present… it is not a knowledge of things in the future but a knowledge of an unchanging present. This is why it is called Providence rather than “prevision”, because it sees everything not from an inferior perspective but from above, as it were.

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When the government of all things is seen as belonging to the simplicity and purity of the divine mind, we call it “Providence”. When this government of all things is seen from the point of view of the things that change and move, that is, all things which are governed, from the very beginning of time we have called this “Fate”… Although these are different, yet the one depends on the other; for the order of fate proceeds from the simplicity of Providence.

For the original Latin text, follow this link to Bibliotheca Augustana.