Dante and Boethius

Bruce N H

Hi all,

I'm no scholar of either Dante or Boethius - I've only read the Comedy and the Consolation a couple of times and the only classes I've taken on either have been the Mythgard Academy ones - so I can't really develop this further. As Corey might do I'll just say "this would make a great paper" and then move on. :)

Anyway, while coming to Dante again, it struck me that there are parallels between the two:
Both are Italian writers and politicians.
Both are in exile.
Both use poetry (okay, Boethius flips back and forth between poetry and prose).
Both are visited by an allegorical spirit who consoles them in their distress by leading them through deeper truths.

Obviously big differences - 800 years apart, two different languages, one focusing on philosophy the other theology, very different framing of how their spiritual guides lead them, etc.

Anyway, do you think there's anything there to be explored?



New Member
That does look like a fruitful paper topic.

One part of the premise I have to question though, and that is the casual relegation of Vergil to the role of "allegorical spirit".

There is strong evidence that Vergil is not an allegory - he's Vergil. You can read him as allegory if you like, and so very many people do. But by that reading I think you miss out on much of the feeling and complexity of the relationship between him and Dante.

Bruce N H

That's a good point and I was probably speaking too loosely. I was thinking along the lines of what Corey talked about in class 1, about reading Dante on multiple levels. So Virgil could be Virgil on one level, but on other levels you could have different interpretations - for instance, Virgil could represent the voice of Reason, which can only get you so far, but you ultimately need Revelation to get to Heaven, etc. That is one big difference, though, with Boethius, where Philosophy is just (perhaps "just" isn't the right word) Philosophy, and doesn't exist on other levels. Maybe that's something that makes Dante much more approachable than Boethius (IMO) - it's not just an ivory tower discussion about great eternal truths but also an adventure story with real characters.