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Boethius, Anicius Manlius Severinus

musica music charged executed

Boethius, Anicius Manlius Severinus, Roman philosopher, theologian, man of letters, and statesman; b. Rome, c.480; d. (executed) c. 524. He was of a distinguished Roman family and received a thorough academic education. In 510 he became consul, and about 520 was made magister officium to King Theodoric. When the senator Albinus was charged with treason, Boethius defended him and was himself charged with treason, imprisoned with Albinus in Pa-via, and executed. It was during his imprisonment that Boethius wrote his most celebrated work, De consolatione philosophiae . However, his importance to music history rests upon his treatise De institutione musica (first publ, in his collected works, Venice, 1491-92; 2 nd ed., 1498-99; edited by Glarean, Basel, 1546; 2 nd ed., 1570; Eng. tr., with notes, by C. Bower and C. Palisca, as Fundamentals of Music, New Haven and London, 1989). This treatise is noteworthy for its view that music is all- pervasive in the universe (musica mundana), that it is one of the major vivifying links between man’s soul and his physical being (musica humana), and that it can be divined in some instruments (musica instrumentalis). By delineating what he called a Perfect System of Greek theory, Boethius produced one of the most influential works of its kind, one that had a profound impact on the late Middle Ages and the early Renaissance.

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