Boethius de Dacia

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by Sten Ebbesen

Boethius de Dacia taught as a master of arts at the University of Paris in the 1270s. He made remarkable contributions to the philosophy of language and of science. His views on philosophical knowledge provoked an angry reaction from the bishop of Paris, who in 1277 condemned a number of Boethian theses. Boethius had performed a radical separation of faith from reason: to him arguments drawn from faith had no part in philosophical investigations, nor should one try to buttress faith with philosophical reasons.

Biography

No details are known about Boethius’s life. Near-contemporary sources call him Boetius de Dacia or B. Dacus. “Boet(h)ius” must be a Latinization of some vernacular name, most probably the one that appears as “Bo” in modern Scandinavian languages. “De Dacia” means “from Denmark”. Because of the organization of the arts faculty at Paris into “nations”, scholars regularly had a designation of origin attached to their name. In the case of scholars from far-away lands this was standardly the name of their kingdom rather than their town of origin. In the university context “Dacia” unequivocally means “Denmark”, but the fact that the Dominican order of “Dacia” comprised the other Nordic kingdoms as well caused some confusion in the historiography of philosophy prior to the study by SKOVGAARD-JENSEN in 1963. In older literature the philosopher sometimes occurs as “Boethius of Sweden”.

In 1277 Stephen/Étienne Tempier, bishop of Paris, issued a decree in which he accused certain masters of arts of overstepping the limits of the competence of their faculty and paying more heed to pagan philosophers than to Holy Scripture. Specifically, he forbade the teaching of 219 theses which were listed in an appendix to the decree, and threatened transgressors as well as their public with penalties. Both medieval tradition and modern research has identified Boethius as one of the masters the bishop had particularly in mind, and several of the condemned theses can be shown to have been extracted from writings by Boethius (cf. HISETTE 1977).

It is generally assumed that Boethius was still teaching at the university at the time of the condemnation, but this is not certain. The other main target of the condemnation, Siger of Brabant, seems to have left Paris earlier, and Boethius may have done the same. It used to be thought that after the condemnation Boethius was cited before the Pope’s court and died there about 1283, but this notion has been discredited by later research (GAUTHIER 1984). The fourteenth-century Stams catalogue of Dominican masters and bachelors includes Boethius and lists his works (MEERSSEMAN-PIGNON 1936; the relevant section is quoted in CPhD 4, XXXII; notice that besides Modi Significandi and the questions on Topics, only works relating to natural philosophy are included in the list). Since it is virtually certain that he was a secular when he wrote his academic works, this may mean that later in life he became a friar, perhaps taking refuge in the order to avoid persecution from the bishop. This, however, is mere speculation, and the reliability of the cataloguer is not beyond suspicion.

In sum, it is totally unknown what consequences, if any, the condemnation had for Boethius as a person. The only reasonably certain facts about his life are (1) that he came from Denmark and (2) became a master of arts in Paris, where (3) he wrote a number of works that (4) by 1277 had attracted the unkind attention of the local bishop. In view of the number of attested works and the maturity of the ones preserved, Boethius’s teaching career is likely to have lasted rather long, perhaps a decade.

The condemnation is probably responsible or co-responsible for the disappearance of some of Boethius’s writings, and for the fact that some others have been transmitted anonymously or with false attributions. There is good evidence that in the first years after 1277 some scholars felt it unsafe to possess works by the men targeted by the condemnation. This notwithstanding, Boethian attitudes continued among philosophers for generations to come, and some of his works continued to have readers for two centuries.

Works

Most of Boethius's production has the form of questions. A scholastic “question” (quaestio) is a stylized debate, which in Boethius’s time had the following format: 0. Statement of the question. 1. Reasons for one type of answer (usually “No”). 2. Reasons for the opposite answer. 3. Solution, containing: 3.1 a determination (answer to the question), and 3.2 answers to those of the reasons in (1) or (2) whose conclusions do not agree with the one given in (3.1). Some variation was possible. The question form was much used in university teaching. Another university genre represented in Boethius’s oeuvre is that of sophismata. A sophisma is a paradoxical sentence. Disputations on sophismata had the following structure: 0. Statement of the sophisma, and discussion in question-form 1. Statement of a number of problems (problemata) relating to the sophisma, and a decision to take certain of them up for discussion. 2. Discussion of each problem. The discussion can use the simple form of a question, but often the real determination, by a master of arts, is preceded by a preliminary determination delivered by a bachelor, attacks on the bachelor’s determination and the bachelor’s rejoinders.

Written questions and sophismata generally have a pre-history as oral events in class, but the process leading from oral teaching or disputation to a written version varies considerably from one case to another. Boethius’s sophismata contain some remarks that indicate use of minutes taken during the oral disputation, such as “No answer was given to this argument”. Boethius's works are characterized by clarity in thought and expression, and a certain bold vigour. Difficulties are attacked head-on rather than avoided, and enlivened by apostrophes to the reader. No certain chronology has been established for Boethius’s writings, but self-references suggest that the Topics commentary is later than Modi Significandi, which in turn is later than several of the lost works.

Editions

  • GRABMANN, M. 1932: “Die Opuscula De summo bono sive de vita philosophi und De somniis des Boetius von Dacien,” Archives d’histoire doctrinale et littéraire du moyen age 6, 287–317. Repr. 1936 in Mittelalterliches Geistesleben II, ed. M. Grabmann, München, 200–24.
  • SAJÓ, G. 1954: Un traité récemment découvert de Boèce de Dacie: De mundi aeternitate, Budapest.
  • Boethii Daci Opera = CPhD 4–9, Copenhagen 1969. Contents of the single volumes:
  • PINBORG, J. & ROOS, H. (ed.) 1969: Modi Significandi sive Quaestiones super Priscianum Minorem, CPhD 4 (An abridged version, by Godfrey of Fontaines, and edited in an appendix, has been reprinted with translation in MCDERMOTT 1980, see Translations below).
  • SAJÓ, G. (ed.) 1972–1974: Quaestiones De generatione et corruptione – Quaestiones super libros Physicorum, CPhD 5, 1–2.
  • GREEN-PEDERSEN, N.J. & PINBORG, J. (ed.) 1976: Topica – Opuscula, CPhD 6, 1–2. (Opuscula = De aeternitate mundi, De summo bono, De somniis).
  • FIORAVANTI, G. (ed.) 1979: Quaestiones super IVm Meteorologicorum, CPhD 8.
  • WIELOCKX, R. 2008: Quaestiones super librum De anima I–II, CPhD 14.
  • EBBESEN, S. & ROSIER-CATACH, I. (ed.): Sophismata, CPhD 9, in preparation.

Translations

Modi significandi (1):

  • MCDERMOTT, A.C.S. 1980: Godfrey of Fontaine’s Abridgement of Boethius of Dacia’s Modi Significandi sive Quaestiones super Priscianum Maiorem (Amsterdam Studies in the Theory and History of Linguistic Science, Ser. 3 – Studies in the History of Linguistics vol. 22), Amsterdam.

De aeternitate mundi (6), De somniis (7), De summo bono (8) a.o.:

  • ROOS, H. 1972: “Boëthius de Dacia, Det højeste Gode eller Filosoffens liv,” in Ethisk Anthologi, ed. S. Holm & N. Thulstrup, Copenhagen.
  • IMBACH, R. 1986: “Boèce de Dacie, Du souverain bien ou de la vie philosophique,” in Philosophes médiévaux. Anthologie de textes philosophiques, ed. R. Imbach & Méléard, Paris, 149–66.
  • WIPPEL, J.F. 1987: Boethius of Dacia: On the supreme good, On the eternity of the world, On dreams (Mediaeval Sources in Translation 30), Toronto.
  • WÖHLER, H.-U. 1990: “Boethius von Dacien, De summo bono (Vom höchsten Gut),” Geschichte der mittelalterlichen Philosophie, Berlin, 196–200.
  • SANTIAGO DE CARVALHO, M.A. 1996: Boécio di Dácia: A Eternidade do Mundo, Lisboa.
  • NICKL, P. 2000: Über die Ewigkeit der Welt. Texte von Bonaventura, Thomas von Aquin und Boethius von Dacien, Frankfurt am Main.
  • GREEN-PEDERSEN, N. J. 2001: Boethius de Dacia: Verdens evighed – Det højeste gode – Drømme, Frederiksberg.
  • BIANCHI, L. 2003: Boezio di Dacia: Sull’ eternità del mondo, Milano
  • R. IMBACH & I. Fouche 2005: Thomas d’Aquin, Boèce de Dacie: Sur le bonheur, Paris.

Sophisma “Omnis homo de necessitate est animal (9):

  • KRETZMANN, N. & STUMP, E. 1988: Logic and the Philosophy of Language (The Cambridge Translations of Medieval Philosophical Texts 1), Cambridge.

(1) Modi Significandi

Title

The manuscripts give two types of title: (1) Quaestiones super maius volumen (i.e., on Priscianus Maior = Priscian, Institutiones grammaticae I–XVI), (2) Modi significandi. Further, (3) Boethius himself in his Questions on Aristotle’s Topics refers to a “Grammatica nostra”, which may well be this work. For details, see CPhD 4, XXXIV–XXXVII.

Incipit

Secundum quod dicit Aristoteles in I. Caeli et mundi: “modicus error in principiis magnus est in effectibus”, si homo consequenter ponat ...

Explicit

Et cum omnium rerum deus sit causa, quia primum in entibus est causa posteriorum, ideo relinquitur, quod omnis nostrae scientiae causa est ipse deus, qui est benedictus in saecula saeculorum. Amen.

Size

310 pages in the printed edition.

Edition

  • PINBORG & ROOS 1969: CPhD 4.

Contents

Modi significandi consists of a prologue and 134 questions on Priscianus Minor (= Priscian, Institutiones grammaticae I–XVI). Of these the first 28 are “quaestiones grammaticae in generali” treating of the proper field of study of grammar, its delimitation from other sciences, its elementary notions, and the like. There follow questions about each part of speech, namely the noun (29–77), the verb (78–95), the participle (96–101), the pronoun (102–107), the preposition (108–116), the adverb (117–126), the interjection (127–129), and the conjunction (130–134).

The work was used by John of Dacia and seems to have had a lasting influence on the development of the “modistic” theory of grammar. Although it never acquired wide popularity, its circulation was larger than usual for texts of its kind: the modern editors knew of ten extant manuscripts from the thirteenth to fifteenth centuries, plus two with near-contemporary excerpts by Godfrey of Fontaines and one lost manuscript. A further lost (partial?) copy used to be in the library of Saint Victor, Paris. The work seems to have enjoyed some fame for a generation or two after its composition.

Literature

The fundamental study on the work is PINBORG 1967.

(2) Quaestiones super librum Topicorum

Mentioned in the Stams catalogue.

Incipit

Cum honorandi viri videlicet patres nostri reverendi primi philosophantes res temporales contemnentes.

Explicit

Et quia iuxta habitum cognosci habet sua privatio, ideo post hoc ad principium de arte sophistica incipientes dicamus.

Size

229 printed pages.

Edition

  • GREEN-PEDERSEN, N.J. & PINBORG, J. 1976: CPhD 6.

Contents

The work consists of a prologue about the subject-matter of logic and of dialectic in particular, followed by a commentary on Aristotle’s Topics I–VIII. At the beginning of each book, and at certain other points, Boethius gives brief summaries of the contents of Aristotle’s text; each of these summaries is followed by a number of questions, which make up the bulk of the work. There are 159 questions in all.

Godfrey of Fontaines, a contemporary of Boethius’s, produced an abbreviated version for his private use (edited as an appendix in CPhD 6). The editors knew of eleven other extant manuscripts from the late thirteenth to the fifteenth centuries. A fourteenth-century list of the best commentators on the Organon recommends Boethius on the Topics together with Robert Kilwardby on the Prior Analytics and Thomas Aquinas on the Posterior Analytics (CPhD 6, XIV n. 20). In two related question commentaries on the Topics from early fifteenth-century Prague and Cracow (GREEN-PEDERSEN 1984, 401–2 and 404–5, commentaries No A.36 and A.43), Boethius is repeatedly referred to, but without the epithet “Dacus”. Apparently he was confused with Manlius Boethius. At one point the author of the Cracow text, finding a disagreement between Boethius (the Dane) and Aristotle, comments:

Sed quid tunc ad Boethium dicitur? Quod loquitur probabiliter, quia quando sunt duo auctoritates de eadem materia, et unus est magis authenticus sive approbatus quam alter, tunc illi magis authentico magis est credendum. Modo Boethius et Philosophus sunt ambo authentici, sed Philosophus magis (Kraków, BJ 2094, 18rA, quoted from unpublished transcription by GREEN-PEDERSEN). (...when two authorities treat the same matter and one is more authentic or recognised than the other, then the more authentic one should be believed. In the case of Boethius and the philosopher they are both authentic, but the philosopher more so.)

Literature

  • GREEN-PEDERSEN 1984.

(3) Quaestiones super De generatione et corruptione

Mentioned in the Stams Catalogue, CPhD 4, XXXII.


Incipit

Cum in omni specie entis sit aliquod <summum> bonum possibile, et homo est aliqua species entis, ei est aliquod summum bonum possibile, et debetur ei secundum optimam virtutem quae in eo est, sicut ratio et intellectus.

Explicit

Dico ergo secundum fidem quod mundus non est aeternus et motus est novus, similiter et illatio est nova, similiter et generatio.

Manuscript

München, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, clm 9559, 83rA–92rB.

Edition

SAJÓ, G. 1972: CPhD 5, 1.

Contents

The work has been transmitted anonymously. While it is certain that it contains material of Boethian origin, it may not be wholly Boethian. Apparently it is a student’s reportage of a course given by Boethius or by someone who based himself on Boethius. The work consists of a prologue, 56 short questions on Book 1 and 12 on Book 2 of Aristotle’s De generatione et corruptione (On coming to be and passing away). No doubt because of the 1277 condemnation, someone disfigured the text of the last question by overlining, so that most of it became quite illegible. The question Utrum motus primus possit esse perpetuus (Whether the first movement can be perpetual) dealt with whether the world had a temporal beginning, and the conclusion obviously was that only faith requires one to accept the notion of a temporally finite world, whereas science must reject it.

(4) Quaestiones super Physicam

Mentioned in the Stams Catalogue, CPhD 4, XXXII.

Incipit

Quaeritur utrum sit aliqua scientia necessaria praeter philosophicas disciplinas.

Explicit

(mutilated): Item, corpus naturale non movetur nisi ad locum specie differentem a loco illo in quo erat prius; una pars dimensionis separata non

Manuscript

München, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, clm 9559, 2rA–14rA.

Edition

SAJÓ, G. 1974: CPhD 5, 2.

Contents

The work has been transmitted anonymously. Parallels with works of undoubted authenticity make certain that there is much Boethian material in the work. The written version preserved is almost certainly a student’s reportage, but it is not quite clear whether the course reported was given by Boethius himself or by someone who based himself on Boethius.

The contents are 106 questions on books 1–4 of Aristotle’s Physics. A wide variety of topics is discussed, including the principles of natural philosophy, nature, matter, form, causality, movement, infinity and place.

(5) Quaestiones super IVm Meteorologicorum

Not mentioned in the Stams catalogue.

Title

Based on the colophon of the only manuscript. It conforms to the way one would expect the medievals to refer to a work like this.

Incipit

“Quoniam autem quattuor causae determinatae sunt elementorum etc.” Quaeritur hic primo utrum qualitates primae sint causae elementorum

Explicit

Sed in corporibus duris per frigidum comprimens, in talibus non est terra a dominio sed aqua. Expliciunt quaestiones super IVm Meteororum reportatae a magistro Boetio de Dacia.

Size

116 printed pages.

Manuscript

What was originally one manuscript is now bound in two different volumes. Part (1): Roma, Biblioteca Angelica, 549, ff. 83rA–97vB; part (2): Roma, Biblioteca Angelica, 560, f. 105rA.

Edition

FIORAVANTI, G. 1979: CPhD 8.

Contents

The contents are 120, generally rather short, questions on Aristotle’s Meteorology, dealing with the elementary properties (hot, cold, dry, moist) and various natural processes such as putrefaction, combustion, digestion, coagulation, arefaction (i.e. evaporation), and liquation (i.e. melting).

Literature

PINBORG 1969.


(6) De aeternitate mundi

Mentioned in the Stams catalogue, CPhD 4, XXXII.

Title

Two manuscripts offer the longer title Liber de concordia fidei christiane et philosophie de eternitate mundi, which may well be original.

Incipit

Quia sicut in his quae ex lege credi debent, quae tamen pro se rationem non habent, quaerere rationem stultum est

Explicit

Huic legi Christi quemlibet christianum adhaerere et credere secundum quod oportet faciat auctor eiusdem legis Christus gloriosus qui est deus benedictus in saecula saeculorum. Amen.

Size

32 printed pages.

Manuscripts

Four manuscripts from the late thirteenth or early fourteenth century plus the autograph and an apograph of an abbreviated version prepared by Godfrey of Fontaines in the 1270s (see GREEN-PEDERSEN, CPhD 6, 2, VII–XII).

Editions

(1) SAJÓ, G. 1954, (2) GREEN-PEDERSEN, N.J. 1976, CPhD 6, 2.

Contents

One manuscript attributes the work to Thomas Aquinas, one to Herveus, in the remaining manuscripts it is anonymous. An abbreviated version by Godfrey of Fontaines appears in the context of other abbreviations of works by Boethius. Style and contents match Boethius as known from certainly genuine works, and there is general agreement that he must be the author. This is a treatise, the literary form of which imitates the university quaestio, about a hotly disputed question at the time: whether the world has a temporal beginning. Boethius holds that there is no contradiction in answering “Yes” qua Christian believer and “No” qua philosopher: philosophers can make deductions from philosophical principles only, but creation is no philosophical principle.

(7) De somniis

Incipit

Cum omnis actio sit ab aliqua virtute et propter aliquod bonum, sicut propter finem agentis, necesse est ut secundum differentiam virtutum, quae sunt in homine, sit differentia actionum hominis et differentia bonorum sibi possibilium ex suis actionibus.

Explicit

Circa diem autem digestione iam quasi completa recta fiunt somnia, tunc enim cessat motus nutrimenti.

Size

Eleven printed pages

Manuscripts

Nine manuscripts from the thirteenth to the fifteenth centuries are listed in CPhD 6, 2, IL–LII & LXIII, plus the autograph of Godfrey of Fontaine’s abbreviated version (1270s) and a later apograph.

Editions

(1) GRABMANN 1924, (2) GREEN-PEDERSEN, N.J. 1976: CPhD 6, 2.

Contents

The work is surely authentic. One branch of manuscripts (five in all) contains an attribution to Boetius Dacus (in one of them without “Dacus”), and Godfrey, who was a contemporary of Boethius, has marked his abbreviation as being an extract from Boethius. Two manuscripts attribute the work to Thomas Aquinas, but this cannot be taken seriously.

A prologue of a page and a half presents the philosopher’s view of the goal of human life – grasping truth – and claims that this noble pursuit of truth has made certain people wonder how dreams can bring foreknowledge of future events, which in turn has made them ask the author for a solution of the question. There follows the main part of the work, which begins in the style of a scholastic quaestio, but soon becomes an essay with no disputational features. Boethius offers a scientific account of the origin of dreams and how some of them are causally related to future events, while in other cases the correspondence of dream and event is fortuitous or merely imagined. In the prologue especially, but even in the main part, the style is somewhat more rhetorical than in standard scholastic prose.


(8) De summo bono

Incipit

Cum in omni specie entis sit aliquod summum bonum possibile, et homo quaedam est species entis, oportet quod aliquod summum bonum sit homini possibile.

Explicit

Primum autem principium, de quo sermo factus est, est deus gloriosus et sublimis, qui est benedictus in saecula saeculorum. Amen.

Size

9 printed pages.

Manuscripts

Twenty manuscripts from the thirteenth to the fifteenth centuries are listed in CPhD 6, 2, plus two containing Godfrey of Fontaine’s abbreviated version (autograph and apograph). The work obviously enjoyed considerable popularity until the end of the fifteenth century.

Editions

(1) GRABMANN 1932, (2) GREEN-PEDERSEN, N.J. 1976, CPhD 6, 2.

Contents

The attribution to Boethius de Dacia is not in doubt. It is the one given by four early manuscripts. Seven manuscripts from the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries just attribute it to Boethius. As early as the beginning of the fourteenth century some people thought the Boethius in question was the ancient philosopher (ca. 480–525), and the work was repeatedly copied together with Gundissalinus’s De uno et unitate, then commonly attributed to the ancient Boethius. Four manuscripts attribute the work to Thomas Aquinas, and one to Giles of Rome, but these attributions have no chance of being right.

The work argues for intellectual understanding as the true realization of human nature, so that the philosopher’s life is the ideal life. Stylistically, the work is highly polished; the vocabulary is not recherché, but the periods are long with many subordinate and parenthetical clauses, the longest period being of almost two printed pages.

(9) Sophisma “Omnis homo de necessitate est animal”

This text discusses fundamental issues concerning truth, necessity, knowledge and signification. Two versions exist, which differ considerably from one another. The “Bruges version” seems to be another scholar’s re-working and expansion of a text that was essentially the same as the “Florence version”. The Bruges version carries seven problemata, only four of which occur in the Florence version (cf. EBBESEN 1993).

Incipit

(Florence:) Omnis homo de necessitate est animal. Circa istud sophisma quattuor quaeruntur. Primum est de veritate huius, utrum sit vera nullo homine existente. (Bruges:) Omnis homo de necessitate est animal. Hoc est sophisma propositum. Quod probatur sic: Omnis homo est animal, haec est vera et semper fuit vera.

Explicit

(Florence:) Ad rationes quae sunt contra rationem bachalarei per praedicta patet solutio. Explicit sophisma Boethii de Dacia. (Bruges:) et genus nullas habet actu sed tantum potestate.

Manuscripts

Brugge, Stedelijke Openbare Bibliotheek, 509: 87vB–91vB. Firenze, B. Medicea-Laurenziana, St. Croce 12 sin., 3, 63r–64r.

Edition

GRABMANN 1940 (Florence version), ROOS 1962 (the three problems only found in the Bruges version), EBBESEN & PINBORG 1970 (partial edition). A complete edition by S. Ebbesen is being prepared for publication in CPhD 9.

Translation

The Florence version is translated in KRETZMANN & STUMP 1988.

(10) Sophisma “Syllogizantem ponendum est terminos”

Incipit

Syllogizantem ponendum est terminos etc. Circa istam orationem tria possunt quaeri. Primum est circa hoc verbum ‘est’, secundum est circa hoc quod dico ‘syllogizantem’, tertium circa hoc quod dico ‘ponendum’.

Explicit

et hoc erit manifestum inspicienti diligenter. Et haec de tertio problemate et per consequens de toto sophismate sufficiant. Magister Boetius {Boethius: bonus cod.} Dacus composuit et determinavit.

Manuscript

Firenze, B. Medicea-Laurenziana, St. Croce 12 sin., 3, 72vB–75vB.

Edition

ROSIER-CATACH, I. and EBBESEN, S. in preparation. Due to appear in CPhD 9.

Contents

As transmitted, this complicated discussion of grammatical theory contains ten problemata, the first seven of which are attributed to master Peter of Auvergne, while the three final ones are attributed to Boethius, though initially presented as a sequel to 1–7. As argued in ROSIER-CATACH & EBBESEN 2004, two independent sophismata by the two masters were joined by a medieval editor, who modified the initial sentences of Boethius’ sophisma in order to make it look like a sequel to Peter’s..

Literature

ROOS 1963, EBBESEN 1993.


(11) Quaestiones super librum De anima I–II

Mentioned in the Stams catalogue.

Edition

WIELOCKX, R 2008: CPhD 14.

Contents

The work consists of four questions on Book I and twenty-two on Book II of Aristotle’s De anima, all in an abbreviated version due to Godfrey of Fontaines, a contemporary of Boethius’s, who also abbreviated other of his works in the same way. The manuscript carries no attribution, but the authorship has been proved beyond reasonable doubt by the editor.

Lost works

  • Liber de naturali ortu omnium accentuum ex ipsis proprietatibus rerum. Referred to in Boethius’s Modi Significandi p. 296 (but only in one manuscript). The reference and the title make it clear that the work explained the various types of accentuation of Latin words in terms of their various ways of signifying, and thus denied that accentuation is wholly conventional.
  • Quaestiones super librum Constructionum. This set of questions on Priscian Minor (= Priscianus, Institutiones grammaticae XVII–XVIII) is referred to in Boethius’s Modi Significandi pp. 106, 112, 120(?), 270 (app.), 309.
  • Ars demonstrativa. Referred to in Boethius’s Quaest. Top. 129. Possibly questions on Aristotle’s Posterior Analytics; at any rate its subject will have been the theory of scientific knowledge expounded in that work.
  • Quaestiones super librum Elenchorum. Referred to in Boethius’s Quaest. Top. p. 113 and Modi Significandi p. 128. The questions edited in CPhD 7 (1977) were once thought to be Boethius’s, but as explained in the introduction to the edition (pp. L–LI), this view is untenable.

Ars Sophistica. Referred to in Boethius’s Quaest. Top. pp. 118 and 132, and possibly 331. Possibly = Ars de modis arguendi sophistice, or = Sophistria or = Quaestiones super librum Elenchorum.

  • Ars de modis arguendi sophistice et solutionibus eorum. Referred to in Boethius’s Quaest. Top. p. 8. Probably a summary of the lore of fallacies in Aristotle’s Sophistical Refutations. Possibly = Ars sophistica.
  • Sophistria. Referred to in Modi Significandi p. 285. Surely a systematic collection of sophismata, possibly = Ars Sophistica. Other collections with similar titles gather standard sophismata in groups according to which type of distinction may be used to declare that the sophismatic proposition is true in one sense and false in another. In such works some sophismata are just referred to by their title, while others are presented with proof, disproof and solution – step 0 in our description of the format of sophismata – but no discussion of problemata follows.
  • Quaestiones super librum De caelo et mundo. Mentioned in the Stams catalogue, CPhD 4, XXXII. Questions on Aristotle’s On the Heavens.
  • Quaestiones super librum De anima. Mentioned in the Stams catalogue, CPhD 4, XXXII.
  • Quaestiones super De sensu et sensato. Mentioned in the Stams catalogue, CPhD 4, XXXII. Questions on Aristotle’s On Sense and Sensible Objects
  • Quaestiones super De somno et vigilia. Mentioned in the Stams catalogue, CPhD 4, XXXII. Questions on Aristotle’s On Sleep and Waking
  • Quaestiones super De longitudine et brevitate vitae. Mentioned in the Stams catalogue, CPhD 4, XXXII. Questions on Aristotle’s On Length and Shortness of Life
  • Quaestiones super de morte et vita. Mentioned in the Stams catalogue, CPhD 4, XXXII. Questions on Aristotle’s On Life and Death
  • Quaestiones super librum De animalibus. Referred to in Boethius’s Modi Significandi p. 62. Questions on Aristotle’s History of Animals, On the Progress of Animals, On the Movement of Animals, On the Parts of Animals, On the Generation of Animals.
  • Quaestiones super De plantis et vegetabilibus. Mentioned in the Stams catalogue, CPhD 4, XXXII. Questions on the pseudo-Aristotelian On Plants (actually by Nicholas of Damascus).
  • <Quaestiones?> super librum de minerabilibus. Boethius’s Quaest. Top. p. 256 refers to what he has explained “in libro De minerabilibus”. A commentary, probably questions, on the Pseudo-Aristotelian On Minerals (actually by Avicenna).
  • Quaestiones super Metaphysicam. Boethius’s Quaest. Top. contains references to “Metaphysica nostra” at pp. 109, 126, 201. The lost work is likely to have consisted of questions on Aristotle’s Metaphysics. An anonymous set of questions on Metaphysics I–VI preserved in Leipzig, Universitätsbibliothek, 1386: 5rA–21rB, while not Boethian as a whole, includes material that almost certainly derives from a lost set of questions by Boethius. See FIORAVANTI 1984, 1991. Edition by FIORAVANTI in CPhD 14.
  • Quaestiones morales. Referred to by Boethius in Modi Significandi p. 24. Probably questions on Aristotle’s Nichomachean Ethics.
  • <Quaestiones> super Rhetoricam. Boethius’s Quaest. Top. pp. 9–10 refers to what he has said “in Rhetorica”, which probably means in questions on Aristotle’s Rhetoric. Boethius was among the first to comment on the Rhetoric in Paris.

Spurious

  • Sophismata grammaticalia. The manuscript Firenze, Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale, Conv. Soppr. D.2.45, ff. 25rA–36v contains thirteen grammatical sophismata with an introduction and with the heading “Incipiunt determinationes magistri Ruberti de Anglia et magistri Boetii”. The same collection is known from seven other manuscripts, in none of which is there any attribution to Boethius. An edition by ROSIER-CATACH, I. & SIRRIDGE, M. is in preparation. According to ROSIER-CATACH (private communication) the date seems to be ca. 1270, but nothing indicates that Boethius had any role in in its genesis.
  • Quaestiones super Priora Analytica. In the 1960s the editors of CPhD considered attributing to Boethius an anonymous set of questions on Aristotle’s Prior Analytics found in somewhat different versions in two manuscripts that contain other works by Boethius. The attribution turned out to be untenable. In scholarly literature the author of this work is sometimes referred to as Pseudo-Boethius. Manuscripts: Brugge, Stedelijke Openbare Bibliotheek 509: 31rA–58rB; Firenze, B. Medicea-Laurenziana, St. Croce 12 sin. 3: 50rA–61rB.
  • Quaestiones super Posteriora Analytica. In the 1960s the editors of CPhD considered attributing to Boethius an anonymous set of questions on Aristotle’s Posterior Analytics found in manuscripts that contain other works by Boethius or – at the time – presumed to be his. The attribution turned out to be untenable. In scholarly literature the author of this work is sometimes referred to as Pseudo-Boethius. Manuscripts: Épinal, BM 137 (48), Erlangen UB 213 (485), München BSB clm 8002, Salamanca BU 1839.
  • Quaestiones super Sophisticos Elenchos. In the 1960s the editors of CPhD considered attributing to Boethius some questions on Aristotle’s Sophistical Refutations found in somewhat different versions in three manuscripts, two of which contain other works by Boethius. The attribution turned out to be untenable. In scholarly literature the author of one of the versions (“SF”) is sometimes referred to as Pseudo-Boethius. Manuscripts: (1) SF-version: Firenze, B. Medicea-Laurenziana, St. Croce 12 sin. 3: 39rA–49vB; Salamanca, UB 1839: 68rB–94rA. (2) C-version: Cordoba, B. Cabildo 52: 65rA–80vA. Edition: EBBESEN, S. (ed.) 1977: Incertorum Auctorum Quaestiones super Sophisticos Elenchos, CPhD 7.


Bibliography

Boethius’s thought and his role in the 1277 condemnations is treated in a vast number of publications, but at the time of writing (2007) there is still no book-length study devoted principally to him and his work. The most extensive treatment of his philosophy is found in EBBESEN 2002. The following list contains fundamental works and a survey article (EBBESEN 1998):

  • EBBESEN, S. & PINBORG, J. 1970: “Studies in the Logical Writings Attributed to Boethius de Dacia,” Cahiers de l’ Institut du Moyen-Age Grec et Latin 3, 1–54.
  • EBBESEN, S. 1993: “Boethius de Dacia et al. The sophismata in mss Bruges SB 509 and Florence Med.-Laur. S. Croce 12 sin., 3’,” in Sophisms in Medieval Logic and Grammar. Acts of the 9th European Symposium for Medieval Logic and Semantics, ed. S. Read, Dordrecht, 45–63.
  • EBBESEN, S. 1998: “Boethius of Dacia”, in Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy 1, London – N.Y., 812–16.
  • EBBESEN, S. 2002: Dansk Middelalderfilosofi, Copenhagen.
  • FIORAVANTI, G. 1984: “Il ms. 1386 Universitätsbibliothek Leipzig, Egidio Romano, Sigieri di Brabante e Boezio di Dacia,” Medioevo 10, 1–40.

FIORAVANTI, G. 1991: “Desiderio di sapere e vita filosofica nelle questione sulla Metafisica del ms. 1386 Universitätsbibliothek Leipzig,” in Historia philosophiae medii aevi 2, ed. B. Moisisch, B. & O. Pluta, Amsterdam/Philadelphia, 271–83

  • GAUTHIER, R.A. 1984: “Notes sur Siger de Brabant,” Revue des sciences philosophiques et théologiques 68, 3–49.
  • GRABMANN, M. 1940: Die Sophismatalitteratur des 12. und 13. Jahrhunderts mit Textausgabe eines Sophisma des Boetius von Dacien (Beiträge zur Geschichte der Philosophie und der Theologie des Mittelalters 36.1), Münster.
  • GREEN-PEDERSEN, N.J. 1984: The Tradition of the Topics in the Middle Ages, München.
  • HISETTE, R. 1977: Enquête sur les 219 articles condamnés a Paris le 7 Mars 1277 (Philosophes Médiévaux 22), Louvain & Paris.
  • MEERSSEMAN, G.(ed.) 1936: Laurentii Pignon Catalogi et Chronica; Accedunt catalogi Stamensis et Upsalensis scriptorum O.P. Cura G. Meersseman (Monumenta ordinis fratrum Praedicatorum historica 18), Roma.
  • PINBORG, J. 1967: Die Entwicklung der Sprachtheorie im Mittelalter (Beiträge zur Geschichte der Philosophie und Theologie des Mittelalters, Texte und Untersuchungen 42.2), Münster/Copenhagen.
  • PINBORG, J. 1969: “Die Handschrift Roma Biblioteca Angelica 549 und Boethius de Dacia,” Classica et Mediaevalia 28, 373–93.
  • PINBORG, J. 1974: “Zur Philosophie des Boethius de Dacia, ein Ueberblick,” Studia Mediewistyczne 15, 165–85, Wroclaw. Repr. in Medieval Semantics, Selected Studies on Medieval Logic and Grammar, ed. S. Ebbesen, London 1984 (with an extensive bibliography).
  • ROOS, H. 1962: “Das Sophisma des Boetius von Dacien ‘Omnis homo de necessitate est animal’ in dobbelter Redaktion,” Classica et Mediaevalia 23, 178–97.
  • ROOS, H. 1963: “Ein unbekanntes Sophisma des Boetius de Dacia,” Scholastik 38, 378–91.
  • ROSIER-CATACH, I. & EBBESEN, S. 2004: “Petrus de Alvernia + Boethius de Dacia. Syllogizantem ponendum est terminos” Cahiers de l’Institut du Moyen-Âge Grec et Latin 75, 161–218.
  • SKOVGAARD JENSEN, S. 1963: “On the National Origin of the Philosopher Boetius de Dacia,” Classica et Mediaevalia 24, Copenhagen, 232–41.