Boëthius (c.480–524 CE,) full name Anicius Manlius Severinus Boçthius, was a Roman mathematician, theologian, and philosopher under Emperor Theodoric.
Very little is known of Boëthius’s life. Born in Rome to an eminent family of the aristocracy, Boçthius possibly got his education in Athens or Alexandria. He studied Greek language and the philosophies of Plato, Aristotle, and the Stoics. In philosophy, Boçthius set himself the task of translating and commenting upon all the works of Plato and Aristotle, with a view to harmonization of their teachings. Boçthius translated Aristotle’s logical works and wrote commentaries on two of them, more notably on Porphyry’s Isagoge (Introduction) to Aristotle’s Categories.
In addition to his theological treatises, Boëthius is best known for his enduring original work The Consolation of Philosophy (523–524.) He wrote it while in prison in Paviaon on a charge of treason. Beside the Bible, it was the prominent book of universal appeal throughout the Middle Ages.
Written as a dialogue in prose and verse between the author and allegorical Philosophia, the personification of philosophy, Consolation contends that a person can rise above the apparent misery of his circumstances and find consolation. This alludes to pagan Stoic philosophy than to Christianity. It was favorite reading of Dante Alighieri, Giovanni Boccaccio, and Geoffrey Chaucer, and inspired numerous imitators.
Most other Boëthius works are not considered original. His Elements of Arithmetic, Elements of Music, and Elements of Geometry (all written 500–510) summarize the works of Nicomachus of Gerasa and Euclid. Boçthius’s writings remained among the principal guides to mathematics during the early medieval period.