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The Old English Boethius

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Chapter Summary

Alfred the Great's Old English Boethius have challenged Anglo-Saxon audiences as it continues to challenge modern readers. This creative adaptation of the sixth-century Latin De consolation philosophiae by Boethius takes different forms in the two surviving manuscripts. This chapter focuses on the form and content of those versions, one prose (B) and the other prosimetrum (C). Virtually all the prose sections in C replicate large portions of B with relatively little variation. The C Meters of Boethius exhibit much greater freedom from B but still feature much of the same lexicon and overwhelmingly the same imagery and concepts. The Boethius presents a powerful synthesis of classical, late antique, and Anglo- Saxon literary forms and techniques. The Boethius also explores practical and theoretical philosophy, with particular interest in hierarchies, both earthly and divine. The chapter concludes with evidence for later readers' engagements with the text into the Middle English era.

Keywords: Alfred the Great; Anglo- Saxon literary forms; Middle English era; Old English Boethius

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