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Sunday, July 28, 2013

Sunday Guest: Severinus Boethius

The dialogue / essay / etc. De Consolatione Philosophiae, "The Consolation of Philosophy," written in about 524 AD by the Roman inventor, translator, philosopher, politician and martyr Severinus Boethius would deserve a whole blog on its own. Here, just one half-serious reflection on language, dealing with one word.

In the very last page of DCF, Boethius says that God sortitus est His all-embracing and all-seeing power: Quam comprehendendi omnia visendique praesentiam . . .  ex propria Deus simplicitate sortitus est.

Etymologically the verb has sors (fors) as a root, meaning "fortune, luck." So, a literal translation would imply that God "somehow luckily happened to receive" His own power --- that would sound as a sound blasphemy to Boethius' ears. But, who knows, in that verb a more modern version of it might already be peeping out. In the dialect of Piedmont, N-W Italy, in fact, it may recall the expression a l'è sörtì, i.e. "it came out." Then imitated in French as est sorti, or vice versa ^__^'

So, in this case, God would make His power come out of His own simple (therefore undivided, eternal, etc.) substance. That fits.