De consolatione philosophiae. France,

BOETHIUS Anicius Manlius Severinus (1700)


Please contact us in advance if you would like to view this book at our Curzon Street shop.


[Begins] p.1:  Premier Liure. Vers Autrefois dana la felru de mon âge, & dans le sort de mes Etudes... [End] p. 555 'puis qu'il conoit que ce qui doit arriuer, n'en est pas pour cela plus sujet à une necessité absoluë et indispensable. 

8vo (185 × 125 mm.) MANUSCRIPT ON PAPER ff. [4(blank)], 555, [1](pp. 462-3 repeated in pagination), ff.[4 (blank)], 17 lines to a page, written in a single elegant hand, in brown ink, binding of contemporary French red morocco, single gilt fillet to covers, spine in compartments with each panel ruled in gilt, gilt and marbled edges, inner edge gilt (top panel of spine expertly replaced and upper joint restored, a few minor marks to covers).   

A handsomely bound manuscript of an anonymous French translation into prose of all five books of De Consolatione Philosophiae, one of the most famous works of late antiquity, written by Boethius in prison before 525 AD while he was awaiting execution for alleged treason. The Consolatio is in prose and verse but this translation is only in prose.

His most important and best known work, De consolatione in Latin, did not initially circulate, but from the Carolingian period, and largely due to the work of Alcuin, it was hugely read in the Middle Ages, and various commentaries were written and read in learned milieux.But it also circulated and was well known in the vernacular, in French, German,  Old English (attributed to King Alfred)  English (Chaucer), Catalan, Dutch, Spanish. The French version was a cornerstone of French literature from the time of the medieval translations by Simon de Freing and Jean de Meung. In Latin the work was printed first in Savigliano in ca.  1471, and many times, reprinted (sometimes with commentary), and there were printed vernacular editions. As Pierre Courcelle in particular has shewn there was a detailed iconography of Boethius.

Almost every generation had a version,  and seventeenth-century French translations include versions by the erstwhile Jesuit René de Cerisiers (1603-1662) and Nicolas Regnier, who translated the proses as prose and the verses into verse, as is the case with most versions. However as the 17th century conntinued (in the words of Pierre Courcelle) 'on peut dire qu'au xviie siècle l'ouvrage se meurt' ('La survie comparée des 'Confessions' Augustiniennes et de la'Consolation' Boécienne'  in Bolgar, R.R. Classical Influences on European Culture A.d. 500-1500, Cambridge: CUP: 1971, p. 138). This translation is therefore somewhat unusual for its time, and the text entirely in prose,  seems to be an ‘original’ translation. 

Provenance: Old pencil number '4796' on fly-leaf;  pasted in is a slip cut out from an old French catalogue (no. 1475) attributing binding to Boyet. Bookplate of Lucius Wilmerding (1880-1949), lot 108 in part II of the sale of his library New York, Parke-Bernet Galleries, 1950-51, also attributing the binding to Boyet.His son, also called Lucius, born in 1906 died in 2002.

Occasional very light browning or ink corrosion.


Stock Code: 219517

close zoom-in zoom-out close zoom