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Boethius, His mourning moved the depths of hell

From The Consolation of Philosophy, tr. by W. V. Cooper

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   ARE YOU playing with me,' I asked,' weaving arguments as a labyrinth out of which I shall find no way? You may enter a labyrinth by the way by which you may come forth: come now forth by the way you have gone in: or are you folding your reason in some wondrous circle of divine simplicity? A little while ago you started from happiness, and said that happiness was the highest good; and you shewed how that rested in the highest Deity. And you reasoned that God too was the highest good, and the fullest happiness; and you allowed, as though granting a slight gift, that none could be happy except such as were similarly divine. Again, you said that the essence of God and of happiness was identical with the very form of good; and that that alone was good which was sought by all nature. And you argued, too, that God guided this universe by the helm of goodness; and that all creatures with free will obeyed this guidance, and that there was no such thing as natural evil; and all these things you developed by no help from without, but by homely and internal proofs, each gaining its credence from that which went before it.'

Then she answered,' I was not mocking you. We have worked out the greatest of all matters by the grace of God, to whom we prayed. For the form of the divine essence is such that it is not diffused without, nor receives aught into itself from without. But as Parmenides says of it, " It is a mass well rounded upon all sides." But if you examine it with reasoning, sought for not externally but by lying within the sphere of the very thing we are handling, you will not wonder at what you have learnt on Plato's authority, that our language must be akin to the subjects of which we speak.

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   Cf. Virgil, To return and view the cheerful skies Goethe, Who yearns for the impossible I love Rilke, Ein Wehn im Gott.

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