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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume II. The End of the Middle Ages.

VII. Chaucer

§ 13. Boethius

The translation of Boethius is literature within and without—interesting for its position in a long sequence of English versions of this author, fascinating for a thousand years throughout Europe and Englished by king Alfred earlier and by queen Elizabeth later; interesting from the literary character of the matter; and interesting, above all, from the fact that Chaucer has translated into prose not merely the prose portions of the original, but the “metres” or verse portions. These necessarily require, inasmuch as Boethius has fully indulged himself in poetic diction, a much more ornate style of phrase and arrangement than the rest—with the result that we have here, for the first time in Middle English, distinctly ornate prose, aureate in vocabulary, rhythmical in cadence and setting an example which, considering the popularity both of author and translator, could not fail to be of the greatest importance in the history of our literature. Faults have been found with Chaucer’s translation, and he has been thought to have relied almost as much on a French version as on the original. But one of the last things that some modern scholars seem able to realise is that their medieval forerunners, idolaters of Aristotle as they were, appreciated no Aristotelian saying so much as that famous one “accuracy must not be expected.”