Philosophy (personified as a woman) was a brilliant psychologist for the lover of wisdom (the true philosopher) must nurture his soul. Boethius had not been doing that (what did Socrates say about the unexamined life?). The allegorical Lady Philosophy points out that Boethius has forgotten who he was so it should come as no surprise that he should sit in the proverbial darkness staring at the proverbial ground. “You are overwhelmed by this variety of mutinous passions: grief, rage, and gloom tear your mind asunder, and so in this present mood stronger measures cannot yet come night to heal you,” she says. He is distracted and deceived by his emotions and by a dream of things he cannot have (“fortune”). When she arrived, he was sitting with the muse of Poetry in tears; in effect, he maintained his own emotional wreckage by feeding his distress with dark and misguided feelings, thinking this would be the best for himself. Lady Philosophy observes, “How much I wonder how it is that you can be so sick though you are set in such a health-giving state of mind!”
There are only hints that the writer substituted the virtues of wisdom for the wealth of knowledge, replacing soundness of mind with the teachings of Epicurus and the Stoics, whose ideas still thrive to this day. The Epicureans believe we should “live by chance,” doing anything and everything that feels good. Just pursue happiness and be happy in that pursuit. Do your own thing, just don’t hurt anyone or interfere with someone else’s happiness. The Stoics thought we should “live by luck” by accepting things as they are--don’t fight your circumstances but pay attention to where they take you. Trust your feelings.
Lady Philosophy speaks truth: there is no light when stars are hidden by black clouds. Still water is clear like glass, but blow the wind and it becomes impenetrable and dark. Don’t let your joy die, put away your fear, let false hope go and stop grieving! “Where these distractions reign, the mind is clouded o’er, the soul is bound in chains.” The Universe is not randomly guided nor does it operate by chance. Enjoying the harvest of crops requires the order of seasons, so there is an order and a time for everything and a great designer behind it all.
There is a time and place for feelings and every man's fortune is his own but they must be coupled with wisdom. Wisdom keeps the emotions from wandering aimlessly and getting lost in the vast territory of the unknown. Fortune, that is, that which becomes the purpose of life is not without a guide otherwise fate would be cruel and unfair. Wisdom is the foundation of contentment and good judgment.