Boethius, The Consolation of Philosophy

LCL 74: 176-177

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Boethius

mutatio rerum non sine quodam quasi fluctu contingit animorum; sic factum est ut tu quoque paulisper a tua tranquillitate descisceres. Sed tempus est haurire te aliquid ac degustare molle atque iucundum 20 quod ad interiora transmissum validioribus haustibus viam fecerit. Adsit igitur Rhetoricae suadela dulcedinis quae tum tantum recto calle procedit, cum nostra instituta non deserit cumque hac Musica laris nostri vernacula nunc leviores nunc graviores modos 25 succinat.

Quid est igitur o homo quod te in maestitiam luctumque deiecit? Novum, credo, aliquid inusitatumque vidisti. Tu fortunam putas erga te esse mutatam; erras. Hi semper eius mores sunt ista 30 natura. Servavit circa te propriam potius in ipsa sui mutabilitate constantiam. Talis erat cum blandiebatur, cum tibi falsae inlecebris felicitatis alluderet. Deprehendisti caeci numinis ambiguos vultus. Quae sese adhuc velat aliis, tota tibi prorsus 35 innotuit. Si probas, utere moribus; ne queraris. Si perfidiam perhorrescis, sperne atque abice perniciosa ludentem. Nam quae nunc tibi est tanti causa maeroris, haec eadem tranquillitatis esse debuisset. Reliquit enim te quam non relicturam nemo umquam 40 poterit esse securus. An vero tu pretiosam aestimas abituram felicitatem? Et cara tibi est fortuna praesens nec manendi fida et cum discesserit adlatura maerorem? Quod si nec ex arbitrio retineri potest

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Consolation II

such a sudden and complete change in a man’s affairs does not happen without some sort of disturbance of the mind, and so even you have fallen for a little while from your proper serenity. But now it is time for you to take some gentle and pleasant physic, which taken and absorbed will prepare you to take stronger medicines. So let us use the sweet persuasiveness of rhetoric, which can only be kept on the right path if it does not swerve from our precepts, and if it harmonizes, now in a lighter, now in a graver mood, with the music native to our halls.

What then is it, man, that has cast you down so that you weep and wail so much? You have had an unusual shock, I think. You imagine that fortune’s attitude to you has changed; you are wrong. Such was always her way, such is her nature. Instead, all she has done in your case is remain constant to her own inconstancy; she was just the same when she was smiling, when she deluded you with the allurements of her false happiness. You have merely discovered the changing face of that blind power: she who still conceals herself from others has completely revealed herself to you. If you like her, follow her ways without complaint. If you abhor her treachery, spurn and reject her, that sports so to a man’s destruction. She, you think, is the cause of your great sorrow. Yet that same fortune should have set your heart at rest. For she has left you; and no-one will ever be able to feel sure that she is not going to leave him. Or do you think that happiness precious, which you are bound to lose? Is fortune so dear to you, while she is with you, although she cannot be trusted to stay with you, and will bring you sorrow when she leaves you? But if she cannot be held fast by your

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DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.boethius-consolation_philosophy.1973