Aquinas acolyte 2 centuries later — Dutch Erasmus — Erasmus was a proponent of religious toleration, and enjoyed the sobriquet “Prince of the Humanists” — Erasmus has been called “the crowning glory of the Christian humanists.” Using humanist techniques for working on texts, he prepared important new Latin and Greek editions of the New Testament. These raised questions that would be influential in the Protestant Reformation and Catholic Counter-Reformation. He also wrote The Praise of Folly, Handbook of a Christian Knight, On Civility in Children, Copia: Foundations of the Abundant Style, Julius Exclusus, and many other works. Erasmus lived against the backdrop of the growing European religious Reformation; but while he was critical of the abuses within the Church and called for reform, he kept his distance from his peer Luther and Melanchthon and continued to recognise the authority of the pope. Erasmus emphasized a middle way, with a deep respect for traditional faith, piety and grace, and rejected Luther’s emphasis on faith alone. Erasmus therefore remained a member of the Catholic Church all his life. In relation to clerical abuses in the Church, Erasmus remained committed to reforming the Church from within. Counter-intuitively, Erasmus also held to Catholic doctrines such as that of free will, which some Reformers rejected in favour of the doctrine of predestination. His middle road approach disappointed and even angered scholars in both camps.

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Erasmus

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desiderius_Erasmus

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Praise_of_Folly

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In Praise of Folly (Greek title: Morias Enkomion (Μωρίας Εγκώμιον), Latin: Stultitiae Laus, sometimes translated as In Praise of More, Dutch title: Lof der Zotheid) is an essay written in Latin in 1509 by Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam and first printed in 1511. The essay was inspired by De Triumpho Stultitiae, written by the Italian humanist Faustino Perisauli, born at Tredozio, near Forlì.

Erasmus revised and extended the work, which he originally wrote in the space of a week while sojourning with Sir Thomas More at More’s estate in Bucklersbury. In Praise of Folly is considered one of the most notable works of the Renaissance and was employed as one of the catalysts of the Protestant Reformation.

It starts off with a satirical learned encomium, in which Folly praises herself, after the manner of the Greek satirist Lucian, whose work Erasmus and Sir Thomas More had recently translated into Latin, a piece of virtuoso foolery; it then takes a darker tone in a series of orations, as Folly praises self-deception and madness and moves to a satirical examination of pious but superstitious abuses of Catholic doctrine and corrupt practices in parts of the Roman Catholic Church—to which Erasmus was ever faithful—and the folly of pedants (including Erasmus himself). Erasmus had recently returned disappointed from Rome, where he had turned down offers of advancement in the curia, and Folly increasingly takes on Erasmus’ own chastising voice. The essay ends with a straightforward statement of Christian ideals.

Hans Holbein‘s witty marginal drawing of Folly (1515), in the first edition, a copy owned by Erasmus himself (Kupferstichkabinett, Basel)

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Erasmus was a good friend of More, with whom he shared a taste for dry humor and other intellectual pursuits. The title “Morias Encomium” can also be read as meaning “In praise of More”. The double or triple meanings go on throughout the text.

The essay is filled with classical allusions delivered in a style typical of the learned humanists of the Renaissance. Folly parades as a goddess, offspring of Plutus, the god of wealth and a nymph, Freshness. She was nursed by two other nymphs Inebriation and Ignorance, her faithful companions include Philautia (self-love), Kolakia (flattery), Lethe (oblivion), Misoponia (laziness), Hedone (pleasure), Anoia (madness), Tryphe (wantonness) and two gods Komos (intemperance) and Eegretos Hypnos (dead sleep). Folly praises herself endlessly, arguing that life would be dull and distasteful without her. Of earthly existence, Folly pompously states, “you’ll find nothing frolic or fortunate that it owes not to me.”

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