Boethius from Late Antiquity to the Early Modern Period: Reception-Regeneration
This seminar will explore the medieval and early modern reception of Boethius' Consolation of Philosophy, through literary imitations and translations, commentaries, and literary responses. To study the fortunes of the Consolation is to come to terms with one of the greatest informing influences on medieval and early modern European poetic thought. We will spend the first few weeks reading and digesting the Consolation itself, working between the Latin text and an English translation (probably using the Loeb edition). Knowledge of Latin is not required for the course, but the readings will provide ample opportunities for you to work on and with Latin as you wish. When we have read the Consolation we will explore its reception history. This will include medieval vernacular receptions (moving from early texts such as the Old English Boethius to its many appearances in Old French and Middle French, in Middle English especially in the form of Chaucer's Boece, and in any other language traditions that students want to cover); some of the remarkable commentaries on the text, and the later medieval literary apotheosis of the Consolation in Chaucer's Troilus and the "Boethian lyrics," in Thomas Usk's Testament of Love, in Hoccleve's Regiment of Princes, and in early modern texts, including--spectacularly--the translation of the Consolation by Queen Elizabeth 1. I encourage you to bring your own interests in the Consolation to the course and suggest some reception directions for the group to take.