Apparent Confusion of the Universe

Boethius, The Consolation of Philosophy Book IV, prosa 5

Page 124

`It is no wonder,' she answered, `if one who knows not the order and
reasons of nature, should think it is all at random and confused. But doubt
not, though you know not the cause of such a great matter of the world`s
government, doubt not, I say, that all is rightly done, because a good
Governor rules the universe.

Book IV, Metrum 5 [With knowledge, confusion disappears.]

`If any man knows not that the star Arcturus has his course nearest the
topmost pole how shall he not be amazed that Boetes so slowly takes his
wain and is so late to dip his brightness in the ocean, and yet so swiftly
turns to rise again? The law of heaven on high will but bewilder him. When
the full moon grows dim to its horns, darkened by the shadow of dull night,
when Phoebe thus lays bare all the varying bands of the stars, which she
had hidden by the power of her shining face: then are the nations stirred
by the errors of the vulgar, and beat without ceasing brazen cymbals. No
man is surprised when the blasts of the wind beat a shore with roaring
waves, nor when a solid mass of frozen snow is melted by

Page 125

the warmth of Phoebus`s rays; for herein the causes are ready at hand to be
understood. But in those other matters the causes are hidden, and so do
trouble all men`s hearts, for time does not grant them to advance with
experience in such things as seldom recur: the common herd is ever amazed
at all that is extraordinary. But let the cloudy errors of ignorance
depart, and straightway these shall seem no longer marvellous.'
Translated by: W.V. Cooper, J.M. Dent and Company. London, 1902.
Back to Geoffrey Chaucer Page | (Or use your browser's back button to return to the previous page.)

Last modified: June 7, 2006
Copyright © The President and Fellows of Harvard College

Gold Texts on this page prepared and maintained by L. D. Benson (