An extensive collection of texts and resources related to Boethius – an important philosopher from Roman times – has found a home at Lubbock Christian University.
Dr. Kenneth Hawley, LCU professor of English and co-editor of the Carmina Philosophiae, the journal of the International Boethius Society, was offered the opportunity to manage the collection.
It includes more than 450 volumes and will be housed in the Administration Building.
“When I heard about the collection, I was a bit overwhelmed; I could hardly believe it,” Hawley recalled. “There was a lot of the unknown. We knew that it was going to be a great collection, we just didn’t know all that it would include. As it happens, it includes nearly everything of importance. We’re amazed and thankful that something like this is possible.”
Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius was a philosopher, musician, mathematician, and theologian, whose prominent career as a powerful political figure in the late Roman period was cut short by his arrest and imprisonment by King Theodoric. He was accused of conspiring with the Senate against the power of the king, and as he awaited his death, he wrote his most famous work, The Consolation of Philosophy, a treatise in prose and poetry on how he made sense of his tragic downfall.
The Consolation has been read and translated dozens of times since it was composed in 524 AD. It has been an influential classic source on authors throughout the centuries.
“The topic itself, the works, the figure of Boethius, and the ideas engaged in his most famous text, the Consolation, are things that a small, private liberal arts university could be committed to in the liberal arts tradition,” Hawley explained.
“As a school, we always want to strive for greater academic rigor, we want to provide our undergraduate students opportunities for research and for learning, but we also want to make sure we continue to engage the larger academic community. And this is one way that we can do that. It’s also something that a Christian university can resonate with; the consolations in his texts are amenable with the consolations we find in scripture.”
The collection came from the estate of the late Professor Brian Donaghey, a scholar from the University of Sheffield in England, and a trustee of the International Boethius Society.
Donaghey dedicated much of his long career to gathering up the editions, the translations, and the other works influenced by Boethius.
Donaghey passed away before the plans for the Brian Donaghey Center for Boethian Studies could be established.
Arrangements were made in the fall of 2015 to transfer the library from Sheffield to Lubbock. Hawley and his colleague and co-editor, Professor Harold Kaylor of Troy University, traveled to Sheffield, where Donaghey’s widow, Helen McIlroy, helped them to pack the collection for shipment to LCU.
The collection features multiple editions and translations of the Latin Consolation, including:
- 46 English translations, including editions from King Alfred the Great in Old English, Geoffrey Chaucer in Middle English, Queen Elizabeth I in Early Modern English, multiple rare English translations from the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, and multiple scholarly translations from the 20th and 21st centuries,
- 50 Latin editions and commentaries (dating from the 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries), and
- 22 German, French, and Italian translations (dating from the 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries.
The rest of the collection includes over 300 volumes of primary and secondary texts related to Boethius, his translators, authors influenced by him, and the historical context of his life and times.
Near term goals for the collection include:
- Organizing, securing, and storing the texts, especially the older and more fragile works, and
- Arranging works for display and use in a reading room with proper preservation and security standards in place.
“Boethius is worth knowing because he’s worth knowing,” Hawley said, “not just because other important people cared about him. He’s worth caring about here and now. The works themselves need to be preserved. Many of the items in this collection are quite rare. Some of them are very hard to come by.”
The primary long term goal for the collection will be:
- Digitizing the early works in the collection to make them available to users online in an official website with an interactive catalog and reading interface,
- Organizing opportunities with faculty and students for undergraduate research, and
- Continuing collaboration with the International Boethius Society and other researchers who will help in preserving Boethius’s legacy.