Text written in Fleury, France, last quarter of 10th century

Miniature English (Canterbury or Winchester)

Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, Ms. Lat. 6401, fol. 158

Boethius’ reputation was mainly based on his most famous work, which he wrote in prison: De Consolatione Philosophiae. Here the author discourses in the form of dialogs with the personification of philosophy. In exemplary prose and in 39 poems Boethius continues the philosophy of Aristotle and stoicism and proves his knowledge as Neo-Platonist. His own experience of the “Inconstancy of Fortune” made him look for repose and security by the virtue of sense to overcome affect.

The miniature is one of the earliest and rare depictions of “Holy Boethius”, as he was venerated by Christians throughout the Middle Ages. He is seated on a throne in the middle of the picture as a Christian author, frontally and in the pose of an Evangelist in Carolingian gospel books. With his right hand, he dips his pen into the inkpot at his side, while his left holds the codex in which he is going to write. His bare feet rest on geometric instruments and geometrical patterns decorate the base below. These are allusions to Boethius’ research in mathematics. Above him, in the tympanum below the arcade, Christ of the Last Judgement is seated in a golden mandorla on a rainbow, God’s Alpha and Omega, the first and the last letter of the Greek alphabet, around his head (Revelation 1,8). His right-hand rises with a gesture of peace while he is holding in his left hand the book of Redemption, where all human deeds are registered. On both sides of his throne a seraph-guard is posted – reminding of Ezekiel’s vision of the divine throne in the Old Testament.