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Seminar MA/ResMA Ancient Philosophy / Latin: Boethius' Consolatio Philosophiae: a philosophical and literary masterpiece from Late Antiquity


Admission requirements

BA GLTC of BA Wijsbgeerte (reading knowledge of Latin required at the level of Dutch ‘eindexamen VWO’). The course is open to MA students Philosophy with a reading knowledge of Latin.


Boethius, a powerful Roman politician, gifted author and keen philosopher, composed the Consolatio Philosophiae in the 520s when imprisoned on charges of treason for which he would eventually be executed. The work takes the form of a dialogue, both in prose and verse, between Boethius and Lady Philosophy who tries to console him with his fate. The book soon became a true classic both because of its literary qualities and its philosophical content. In this course we shall address both the literary form (the issue of genre: Menippean satire, prosimetric literature; intertextuality and the role of classical canonical literature) and the philosophical content (Neoplatonic ideas about human happiness, divine providence, free will and determination) as well as the reception of the Consolatio in the Middle Ages. For an introduction to this fascinating author, see, for example, the entry Boethius by J. Marenbon in the Standford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. In the case of MA students Classics, this seminar may count either as a Latin or Ancient Philosophy course.

Course objectives

  • Better understanding of the philosophy and Latin literature of Late Antiquity.

  • Understanding of and training in reception studies.

  • Improvement of presentation and writing skills.



Mode of instruction


Assessment method

  • Oral presentation

  • written paper

  • pensum


Yes, see Blackboard.

Reading list

  • H. F. Stewart et al., Boethius. Theological Tractates. The Consolation of Philosophy, Loeb vol. 74 (1973)

  • For a first orientation, see: J. Marenbon (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Boethius, Cambridge 2009 (available online Leiden University Library)


via uSis.

Contact information

Dr. R. M. van den Berg.
Dr. Ch. Pieper.


Classics students may follow this seminar either as a course in Latin or in Ancient Philosophy.