James J. O'Donnell is a distinguished classicist and has published widely on the history and culture of the late antiquities. A longtime professor of classics at the University of Pennsylvania, he has been provost of Georgetown University since 2002, is a fellow of the Medieval Academy of America, and served as president of the American Philological Association. He is a graduate of Princeton and received his Ph.D. from Yale. He hails from New Mexico and travels the world in search of traces of the ancient past--and fine dark chocolate.
Born of a distinguished family, Boethius received the best possible education in the liberal arts in Athens and then entered public life under Theodoric the Ostrogoth, ruler of Italy. Boethius obtained the highest office, but was later accused of treason, imprisoned, and executed. In the dungeon of Alvanzano, near Milan, during his imprisonment, he composed "The Consolation of Philosophy," a remarkable piece of prose literature as well as philosophy. Boethius's outlook, like that of all the Church Fathers, was Platonistic, but he preserved much of the elementary logic of Aristotle. Boethius reported in his commentaries the views of Aristotelians even when they disagreed with his Platonism. Thus he created an interest in Aristotle in subsequent centuries and provided a basis for the introduction of Aristotle's works into Europe in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Boethius was put to death in 526.