Boethius, The Consolation of Philosophy

LCL 74: 132-133

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Boethius

Dum levibus male fida bonis fortuna faveret, Paene caput tristis merserat hora meum. Nunc quia fallacem mutavit nubila vultum, 20Protrahit ingratas impia vita moras. Quid me felicem totiens iactastis amici? Qui cecidit, stabili non erat ille gradu.

I

Haec dum mecum tacitus ipse reputarem querimoniamque lacrimabilem stili officio signarem, adstitisse mihi supra verticem visa est mulier reverendi admodum vultus, oculis ardentibus et ultra 5 communem hominum valentiam perspicacibus colore vivido atque inexhausti vigoris, quamvis ita aevi plena foret ut nullo modo nostrae crederetur aetatis, statura discretionis ambiguae. Nam nunc quidem ad communem sese hominum mensuram cohibebat, 10 nunc vero pulsare caelum summi verticis cacumine videbatur; quae cum altius caput extulisset, ipsum etiam caelum penetrabat respicientiumque hominum frustrabatur intuitum. Vestes erant tenuissimis filis subtili artificio, indissolubili materia perfectae quas, 15 uti post eadem prodente cognovi, suis manibus ipsa texuerat. Quarum speciem, veluti fumosas imagines solet, caligo quaedam neglectae vetustatis obduxerat. Harum in extrema margine ·Π· Graecum, in supremo vero ·Θ·, legebatur intextum. Atque inter utrasque 20 litteras in scalarum modum gradus quidam insigniti videbantur quibus ab inferiore ad superius elementum

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Consolation I

While fortune favoured me— How wrong to count on swiftly-fading joys— Such an hour of bitterness might have bowed my head. Now that her clouded, cheating face is changed My cursed life drags on its long, unwanted days. Ah why, my friends, Why did you boast so often of my happiness? How faltering even then the step Of one now fallen.

I

While I was thinking these thoughts to myself in silence, and set my pen to record this tearful com-plaint, there seemed to stand above my head a woman. Her look filled me with awe; her burning eyes penetrated more deeply than those of ordinary men; her complexion was fresh with an ever-lively bloom, yet she seemed so ancient that none would think her of our time. It was difficult to say how tall she might be, for at one time she seemed to confine herself to the ordinary measure of man, and at another the crown of her head touched the heavens; and when she lifted her head higher yet, she pene-trated the heavens themselves, and was lost to the sight of men. Her dress was made of very fine, imperishable thread, of delicate workmanship: she herself wove it, as I learned later, for she told me. Its form was shrouded by a kind of darkness of for-gotten years, like a smoke-blackened family statue in the atrium. On its lower border was woven the Greek letter Π (P), and on the upper, Θ (Th),a and between the two letters steps were marked like a ladder, by which one might climb from the lower

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DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.boethius-consolation_philosophy.1973