Published online by Cambridge University Press: 17 June 2020
Boethius’s Consolation of Philosophy was one of the philosophical works best known to Jean de Meun, and later in life, after he had written his part of the Roman de la Rose, he would translate it into French. The Consolation is not, however, a straightforward philosophical treatise, but a work that uses a variety of literary forms (dialogue; the alternation of prose and verse; personification) in order, arguably, to convey a much more complex position than the ostensible conclusion of the argument made by Lady Philosophy. This complexity is due especially to Boethius’s reaction to what I call ‘the Problem of Paganism’. Although the Consolation was widely read, closely studied and imitated or used in a whole variety of ways from the ninth century onwards, most of its medieval readers were not sensitive to these complexities. This contribution will investigate whether the Roman de la Rose shows that Jean de Meun is an exception to the rule. It will do so by looking at the relation between his part of the poem, the Consolation and the Problem of Paganism.