I was struck by his statement in Consolation I.IV, lines 105-106, "'Si quidem deus,' inquit, 'est, unde mala? bona vero unde, si non est?'" "If God exists from where comes evil? But where does good come from, if he does not exist?"
Boethius was not himself asking the question, he was merely stating that it was no wonder one of Philosophy's disciples would ask the question. The footnotes to this line (by S.J. Tester from the Loeb edition) state that "the authorship of this dilemma is unknown. Editors have generally referred to Epicurus fr. 374 ex Lactantius De ira dei 13, 21; but that is a different problem (either God can prevent evil and will not, or will, but cannot), and this one is surely not Epicurean. Its origins can be found in Plato( cf. Republic, 379 and Schol. in Remp. 379a ......)It is probably from some Neo-Platonist commentator, possibly Ammonius."
If these philosophers are speaking of Zeus as God, I do not understand why they are surprised that he does not prevent evil. Too busy boinking princesses?
Lactantius was an early Christian and was tutor to Constantine's son. According to this site, he is partly responsible for the medieval 'flat earth' theory. The writer is correct, Pliny the Elder stated the world is a globe. The writer also states that Lactantius was declared a heretic posthumously. (Who wasn't at some point?) His book was written as an attack on Epicurian philosophy. The early Church is certainly more interesting than the later one. It was like the Wild West out there. Stabbings, burnings, poisonings. And then, there was the gruesome manner of Boethius' execution. Of course, Boethius was not above taking a poke at what he thought of as heresies, like Arianism, so he was courting death one might say.
I have not finished the book yet and Boethius did not answer the question why there is evil in this world in that chapter . We shall see if he figures anything out at all by the end but I think I know why there is evil in this world.