The Text: Prologue, De consolatione philosophiae, Translated by John Walton, Copied c. 1480 John Clynton, prior.
Prototype of transcription and editorial apparatus by Jesse McDowell; Newberry Library Case MS 36 (Prologue, Walton’s Boethius, 15th-cent copy, John Clynton 1480 – Newberry Premodern Studies Seminar)
1. The w^hylethat Rome was rynyng in hyr flowres
And of the worlde holde the monarchye
He was gouerned than by emperowres
And was renouned wondir nobylye
Tyll pride had sette þer hertes vpon hye
Thanbeganthey for to vsen cruelte
And reyne by rygor & by tyranny
In sor oppressyon of the comynalte
2. For ryght pouerte causeth soburnes
And febulnes enforceth contynence
Ryght so prosperyte and sekyrnes
The moderis of vyce and neclygence
And power all so causeth insolence
And often honor chaungeth good thewes;
Ther is no more [perillous] pestelence
Than hye estate gyfen to shrewes
Stanza 1.—1. The] om. F. was rynyng] regned M D. 2. of] om. L h D; of all F; all] om. N; þe (2)] om. D Dc; in h. 3. he] sche L; It D. 4. renouned] renomed h; renounded þen F. wondir nobylye] of wondre high nobleye M D. 6. –version 1 Ca gan]; version 2Ca began] gan L Ba; beganne F P. for to] to R F P cruelte] crudelyte P. 7. by] om. P. rygor] rygurnesse P. 8. oppressyon] oppressying J. And oppressed sore the comynalte P.
Stanza 2.—1. ryght] leke P. pouerte] pouert L. 2. febulnes] febilesse C; feblesse M; febles D; febillesse Bb. 4. is] om. R; Is the moder P. 5. all so] causeth also F; also L Ba+. 6. good] gode Rl Ba N M F Ch; goode N R M D. thewes] towes J; maners P. 7. no] none L. more] mo C O; so P. perillous] emended; taken from perillous Ba. 8. hye] hyhe L; bee D. estate] estates L; statis D. gyfen] yoven M D; gyffen L; to] vnto L; As ys hye astate geven to shrewes P.
3. Off the whyche was Nero one the principall
That syche maneyr tyrannye be ganne
Thowe he barea dyademe imperiall
Yet was hym self a verry cursed man,
So cruelly he gan to reyne thanne
He slowe hys moder and hys mayster bothe
And myche he dyde that tell I ne can
Who so hatth it rede, he knoweth wel the sothe.
4. The chefe of holy chyrche he slowe all soo
Seynte Pawle & Peterbothe vpon a daye
And afterr them full many othermoo;
And of hymselfe it is, I dar well saye,
That Paule wrytyth thus, it is no nay,
And seyth, nowe is the forme of wickednes
And figureright of antecrystes laye
In whom schal ben all manere cursednes. 
Stanza 3. –1. Off] of Ba+. the] om. L; þe Rl Ba J P. one the] oon þe L; vnnethe D; one and P. 2. maneyr tyrannye] mannere of tyrannye L. be ganne] began L. 3. barea dyademe] bare dyademe L; the dyademe P. 4. verry] om. F. hym self] he P. 5. gan] began R h F. 6. moder and hys mayster bothe] master & hys moder P. 7. tell] tellen L. ne] om.N. tell I ne] I ne telle M D. 8. Who so] whose F; who N. rede] radde Rl Ba Ch; yredde F. wel] om.F.
Stanza 4. –1. all soo] also L. 2. Seynte] om.F. Pawle] Paule L; Poule Rl Ba N M D h Ch; Powle Dc. Peter] Petir L; petur Ba; Petre M M Dc; Petir & Paule F P. 3. moo] mo L. 4. hymselfe] hym-self L; the same P. 5. Paule] Poule N D h J; Powle Dc. thus] þis F; it] om F. 6. is] om. Ba L h Ch. 7. And] A F. antecrystes] antecristus L; antecristes N M D F Dc.
5. For they þattecheth truly Cristes lore
To maken men \to leve/ of ther vyce,
And crystewill pursue hem therfor
And all this prechyng sett at no pryce.
So was he gyfen to lustes & delice,
That what desyre that come vnto hys thowht
He wolde it done withowte more avyce
For nothyng ther of spare wolde be nowght.
Stanza 5. –1. techeth truly] trewly teche L. 2. To] Tho Ch; to leve] forletten L; to forleten N D. of] om. M D Rl Ba P. 3. And cryste] Antecrist Ba+. pursue] punysshe Bb. hem] þeym L; þayme Ba. 6. That] In L. that] om. Dc. vnto] to L Ba. 7. it] hem N. avyce] aduyse h P. 8. ther of] om. F; þere of L. For nothynge then wold he spare hyt nought P.
There is no headword preceding the text block beginning the prologue on f. 78r, but I have added it here for clarity.
This word was the first of many that Clynton updated according to diachronic change, as Wakelin asserts. Clynton first wrote wyle, but updated it to whyle. Other instances of this word do not garner an update, but this may be because of fatigue (Wakelin: p.168-9).
This is the second update: from gan to began. The goal is to avoid gan(Wakelin: p. 169).
Commentary, Stanzas 1-2: This prologue provides a historical context for the English reader of Boethius’s status in society and his cause for suffering. It explains who Theoderic was (and is in the text), the captor of Boethius and ruler of Rome by conquest. Ruthless and demanding, he sentences Boethius the senator wrongfully to prison. This prologue sits in a tradition of prologues wherein English translators, going back to the scribes in the court of King Alfred, provided introductions to the translations proper when needed for the edification of the reader. It also speaks of noble deeds, actions of good and bad kings, and orthodox contexts for cardinal virtues.
Commentary, stanzas 3-5: English readers would know the stories of St. Peter and Paul, the apostles who experienced great suffering and then wrote books about that suffering. Medieval cultures focused on the heroic examples of saints from biblical and contemporary times alike. Thus, these apostles, like Boethius himself, suffered great calamities, yet overcame them through faith. Like the English translations of Boethius before now, scribes had to relate the story of the early Roman philosopher, and his seemingly pagan content, to an overtly Christian audience.
This is a scribal error from Antecristor “anti-Christ” in all other MSS to And crystby Clynton. He seems to have, once making the error in the original copy, looked it over and paid more attention to his particular aim of correcting “-enplurals and subordinating conjunctions” (Dwyer: p. 29). Though one may be tempted to conclude that Clynton means to dislodge the orthodox argument here, it is much more likely that it is a simple error, due to its likeness in Balliol College, 316 A and all other manuscripts in Mark Science’s genealogical tree (Science: p. xli).