Apart from the reasons just mentioned the only ones given by the sources many scholars have supposed that behind Boethius’s condemnation lay a religious motivation. It has been hypothesized that in condemning Boethius whose theological treatises made him a spokesman for the most orthodox theses in trinitarian and christological matters the Arian Theodoric in some way meant to react against the anti-Arian measures taken at that time by the emperor Justin. There are objective difficulties, however, with the chronological succession of events, to the extent that even the inverse thesis i.e., that the condemnation of persons such as Boethius and Symmachus had stimulated, if not provoked, those measures cannot be excluded a priori. The fact remains incontestable that the failure of Pope John I’s mission to the East to achieve Theodoric’s wishes, and the consequent irreparable break, both political and religious, between the Gothic king and the emperor, were events that, esp. if considered in their immediate and remote causes, abundantly explain the climate in which the drama of Boethius matured and reached its tragic conclusion.
Boethius’s work has various aspects of differing importance for ascertaining his place in the patristic tradition. The publication in 1877 of a fragment of Cassiodorus commonly known as the Anecdoton Holderi has finally settled all doubts about the authenticity of the so-called Opuscula sacra which are at least partially mentioned in that fragment and consequently about Boethius’s adherence to Christianity. The singular aporia, however, that gave rise to those doubts is still open to discussion: the fact that Boethius’s famous Consolatio philosophiae, composed in exile at Pavia in the certain expectation of imminent death, does not contain a single explicit profession of Christian faith. The prevalent lay character of the greater part of Boethius’s writings is incontestable. It is commonly agreed that at the beginning of his work must be placed the four treatises of the so-called quadrivium, a term coined by Boethius himself to designate the four mathematical disciplines of the encyclopedic canon: arithmetic, music, geometry and astronomy. Only the first two survive, but convincing evidence seems to confirm that he completed the whole project. At this point, a comparison with the precedent set by Augustine the projected adaptation of Varro’s Disciplinae, partially realized in the lost Liber de grammatica and the six books De musica would seem to suggest itself, but the two surviving treatises of which the first, on arithmetic, is a translation of Nicomachus and the second, on music, is a complex compilation from Greek sources, esp. Nicomachus and Ptolemy contain not the least hint at that precedent or at even vaguely Christian problems.
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