16 Pages

Introduction: Remembering Boethius

This book explores the part Boethius’s Consolation of Philosophy plays in the making of medieval identities, through its adaptation within texts that evoke the Consolation as a means to articulate and interpret contemporary experiences of exile and imprisonment. Distinguished by their investment in particular social and historical contexts, these narratives unsettle conceptions of the Consolation as unequivocally endorsing a radical rejection of temporal things and the active life that entails a turn towards asceticism. Conventionally framed in erotic terms, such texts have sometimes been described as parodies or subversions of De Consolatione Philosophiae.1 In reexamining the significant conjunction of the political and the erotic within these works, this study brings the social import of these forms, and the interpretative practices they embody, into focus. Locating the role of the Consolation in mediating the representation of lives at once political and personal in relation to medieval techniques of memory training, I argue that these works reflect an engagement with conceptions of ethical and textual authority that has an agency of its own, defining an idealised nobility as it reinterprets the Boethian text.