Date of Award

Spring 1950

Document Type





Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius was born at Rome about 480 A.D. He descended from a consular family and was left an orphan at an early age. He received his education from his guardian and later father-in-law, Symmachus. (1) Other than what has been said we know very little of his early life. At the age of twenty he began his laborious translations from Greek into Latin. (2)

"He also, following the advice of Plato, entered into public service, won the favor of Theodoric, and was made patrician and consul.” (3) Boethius’s political relations with Theodoric start at least as early as 506, possibly 500, the date of Theodoric’s visit to Rome... In 510 he was elevated to the consulship. The year 522, in external pomp, was the most distinguished of his life, for his two sons were the consuls... In the following year, if not before, Boethius was created magister officiorum, a high position Involving constant attendance upon the king. In the next to last dear of his life, Boethius received a quite unexpected honor, conviction of high treason. (4)

"..... In summer or early autumn of 523, Cyprian... accused the patrician of sending letters to the emperor Justin, hostile to the royal rule of Theodoric." (5) "After a period of imprisonment he was tortured by the twisting of a cord around his head and then killed by a blow from a club." (6)

Wherever there is a discussion about Boethius the questions arise, whether or not he was a Christian, and if he was did he die a martyr’s death. The first of these questions can readily be answered, while no definite answer can be given to the second. In defense of Boethius’ Christianity Rand says, "First of all, we should take account of the political situation, and in particular, of the code of laws promulgated by Theodoric." (7)