Reformed Churchmen

We are Confessional Calvinists and a Prayer Book Church-people. In 2012, we remembered the 350th anniversary of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer; also, we remembered the 450th anniversary of John Jewel's sober, scholarly, and Reformed "An Apology of the Church of England." In 2013, we remembered the publication of the "Heidelberg Catechism" and the influence of Reformed theologians in England, including Heinrich Bullinger's Decades. For 2014: Tyndale's NT translation. For 2015, John Roger, Rowland Taylor and Bishop John Hooper's martyrdom, burned at the stakes. Books of the month. December 2014: Alan Jacob's "Book of Common Prayer" at: January 2015: A.F. Pollard's "Thomas Cranmer and the English Reformation: 1489-1556" at: February 2015: Jaspar Ridley's "Thomas Cranmer" at:

Thursday, October 23, 2014

23 October 524 A.D. Boethius Executed for Treason

23 October 524 A.D.  Boethius Executed for Treason

Graves, Dan. “Boethius Executed for Treason.”  Jul 2007.  Accessed 4 Jun 2014.

The courage with which one man faced torture and death in old Rome became a source of inspiration to all of Christendom for centuries. Boethius lived when the Ostrogoths had conquered the Roman Empire. His father died when he was seven, and he was reared by an aristocrat named Symmachus.

Boethius loved learning and set himself the task of translating the greatest Greek works into Latin with comments. He hoped to reconcile apparent contradictions in Aristotle and Plato. His death for treason cut that project short, but the translations he finished formed the basis for learning in the Middle Ages. It was Boethius who named the quadrivium, a course of study required of all students in those troubled years.

Theodoric became king of Italy. Boethius rose high in his favor, serving him as a consul in 510. The king honored him even more by appointing his two young sons as consuls in 522.

Politics and religion got Boethius into hot water. He not only accepted the trinity, but wrote a stout defense of it, whereas Theodoric was an Arian who considered Christ a created being. Theodoric feared that his orthodox subjects would side with Byzantium against him. He accused Senator Albinus of plotting against him with the Byzantine court. Boethius bravely defended the accused man. Theodoric jailed Boethius and had him tortured. Like dominoes falling, Symmachus defended Boethius, but was sentenced to death, too.

While on death row, Boethius questioned the events that had befallen him. He, the innocent, was tortured, while Theodoric suffered no harm. The book he wrote, called The Consolation of Philosophy, was the most influential Latin book of the Middle Ages. In it he wrestled with profound questions of right and wrong, foreknowledge and time.

C. S. Lewis wrote about The Consolation, "Until about two hundred years ago it would, I think, have been hard to find an educated man in any European country who did not love it." Perhaps the reason The Consolation was so beloved is because it put life and death in eternal perspective. Earthly glories are seen as illusory. It helped Boethius face disgrace and death. On this day, October 23, 524, he was executed for treason by a cruel and torturous method.


1.      Barrett, Helen Marjorie. Boethius: some aspects of his times and work. New York: Russell & Russell, 1965.

2.      Boethius. The Consolation of Philosophy. Edited and abridged by James Buchanan. New York: Frederick Ungar, 1957.

3.      "Boethius, Anicius Manlius Severinus." Dictionary of Scientific Biography. Editor Charles Coulston Gillispie. New York: Scribner's, 1970.

4.      Collison, Robert Lewis. Encyclopaedias: their history throughout the ages; a bibliographical guide with extensive historical notes to the general encyclopaedias issued throughout the world from 350 B.C. to the present day. New York, Hafner Pub. Co., 1964.

5.      Copleston, Frederick. History of Philosophy.

6.      D'Souza, Dinesh. The Catholic Classics. Huntington, Indiana: Our Sunday Visitor, 1986.

7.      Gibbon, Edward. The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Various editions available; Chapter 39.

8.      Grout, Donald J. A History of Western Music. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1960.

9.      Knowles, David. "Boethius, Anicius Manlius Severinus," in Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Editor Paul Edwards. New York: Macmillan, 1967.

10. Lewis, C. S. The Discarded Image; An Introduction to Medieval and Renaissance Literature. Cambridge University Press, 1994.

11. Payne, F. Anne. King Alfred & Boethius, an analysis of the Old English version of the Consolation of philosophy. Madison, University of Wisconsin Press, 1968.

12. Runes, Dagobert D. A Treasury of Philosophy. New York: Philosophical Library, 1945.

13. Russell, Bertram. Wisdom of the West. New York: Fawcett, 1964.

14. Struik, Dirk Jan. A Concise History of Mathematics. New York: Dover Publications, 1967.

15. Turner, William. "Boethius, Anicius Manlius Severinus." The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton, 1914.

16. Various encyclopedia articles.

Last updated April, 2007.

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