Rising from the Depths of Despair: The Healing Arts of Lady Philosophy in Boethius's The Consolation of Philosophy

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Qureshi, Nausheen
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University Honors College, Middle Tennessee State University
Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius’s best-known work, The Consolation of Philosophy, composed by the author in ca. 524/525 while imprisoned in Pavia, documents Boethius’s journey back to enlightenment with the aid of Lady Philosophy, his teacher turned physician. This study critically analyzes the physician/patient relationship established between Lady Philosophy and Boethius, upon which the Consolation, and Boethius’s recovery from his illness of lethargy, is built. Participating in the Graeco-Roman lamentatio/consolatio tradition, the work showcases Lady Philosophy as physician, who prescribes two types of remedies so that the patient can at first be pacified by the “weaker remedy,” and then have his newfound misconceptions challenged by the “stronger remedy.” Present-day applications of Lady Philosophy’s medical methods imply the need of physicians to connect with their patients on a deeper level through the use of individualized strategies, compassionate demeanors, and comforting bedside manners. Only through such practices can physicians truly begin to heal their patients as a whole.
Boethius, philosophy, medicine, spiritual healing