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History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empir

Footnote 92 Bibliothecae comptos ebore ac vitro parietes


persons. For the benefit of

his Latin readers, his genius submitted to teach the first elements of the arts and sciences of Greece. The geometry of Euclid, the music of Pythagoras, the arithmetic of Nicomachus, the mechanics of Archimedes, the astronomy of Ptolemy, the theology of Plato, and the logic of Aristotle, with the commentary of Porphyry, were translated and illustrated by the indefatigable pen of the Roman senator. And he alone was esteemed capable of describing the wonders of art, a sun-dial, a water-clock, or a sphere which represented the motions of the planets. From these abstruse speculations, Boethius stooped, or, to speak more truly, he rose to the social duties of public and private life: the indigent were relieved by his liberality; and his eloquence, which flattery might compare to the voice of Demosthenes or Cicero, was uniformly exerted in the cause of innocence and humanity. Such conspicuous merit was felt and rewarded by a discerning prince: the dignity of Boethius was adorned with the titles of consul and patrician, and his talents were usefully employed in the important station of master of the offices. Notwithstanding the equal claims of the East and West, his two sons were created, in their tender youth, the consuls of the same year. [93] On the memorable day of their inauguration, they proceeded in solemn pomp from their palace to the forum amidst the applause of the senate and people; and their joyful father, the true consul of Rome, after pronouncing an oration in the praise
of his royal benefactor, distributed a triumphal largess in the games of the circus. Prosperous in his fame and fortunes, in his public honors and private alliances, in the cultivation of science and the consciousness of virtue, Boethius might have been styled happy, if that precarious epithet could be safely applied before the last term of the life of man.

[Footnote 89: Le Clerc has composed a critical and philosophical life of Anicius Manlius Severinus Boetius, (Bibliot. Choisie, tom. xvi. p. 168--275;) and both Tiraboschi (tom. iii.) and Fabricius (Bibliot Latin.) may be usefully consulted. The date of his birth may be placed about the year 470, and his death in 524, in a premature old age, (Consol. Phil. Metrica. i. p. 5.)]

[Footnote 90: For the age and value of this Ms., now in the Medicean library at Florence, see the Cenotaphia Pisana (p. 430-447) of Cardinal Noris.]

[Footnote 91: The Athenian studies of Boethius are doubtful, (Baronius, A.D. 510, No. 3, from a spurious tract, De Disciplina Scholarum,) and the term of eighteen years is doubtless too long: but the simple fact of a visit to Athens is justified by much internal evidence, (Brucker, Hist. Crit. Philosoph. tom. iii. p. 524--527,) and by an expression (though vague and ambiguous) of his friend Cassiodorus, (Var. i. 45,) "longe positas Athenas intrioisti."]

[Footnote 92: Bibliothecae comptos ebore ac vitro * parietes, &c., (Consol. Phil. l. i. pros. v. p. 74.) The Epistles of Ennodius (vi. 6, vii. 13, viii. 1 31, 37, 40) and Cassiodorus (Var. i. 39, iv. 6, ix. 21) afford many proofs of the high reputation which he enjoyed in his own times. It is true, that the bishop of Pavia wanted to purchase of him an old house at Milan, and praise might be tendered and accepted in part of payment. * Note: Gibbon translated vitro, marble; under the impression, no doubt that glass was unknown.--M.]

[Footnote 93: Pagi, Muratori, &c., are agreed that Boethius himself was consul in the year 510, his two sons in 522, and in 487, perhaps, his father. A desire of ascribing the last of these consulships to the philosopher had perplexed the chronology of his life. In his honors, alliances, children, he celebrates his own felicity--his past felicity, (p. 109 110)]


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