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The Sovereignty of Wisdom: Boethius’ Consolation in the Light of Folklore

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Abstract This article argues that Boethius’ Consolation can be read in a folklore key as an allegorical version of the Adventure of the Hero. The text has been the object of analysis often enough, but never, to the author’s knowledge, from the perspective proposed here. The article begins by discussing the shortcomings of certain critical positions regarding the identity of Philosophy. It then applies to the Consolation tools taken from the field of folklore studies—the narrative model proposed in Propp’s Morphology of the Folktale, and the thematic pattern of Sovereignty. Analysis in this light provides evidence that Philosophy is an embodiment of Sovereignty herself, a symbolic figure usually studied by Celtic and Scandinavian scholars, but one which demonstrably plays a key role in Classical literatures as well. This approach is shown to clarify several major aspects of Boethius’ text: the peculiar interplay of its metaphors, the role of Philosophy, the narrative structure within which she exists, and the significance of the various motifs and voice associated with her.

Affiliations: 1: Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Department of English Studies Campus de Cantoblanco, 28049 Madrid Spain


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