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Synopsis

Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus (October 28, 1466 July 12, 1536), known as Erasmus of Rotterdam, was a Dutch Renaissance humanist, Catholic priest, and a theologian who was one of the most well known men of his time and, alongside Martin Luther, one of the first men whose writings spread across Europe as a result of the newly invented printing press. Erasmus was a classical scholar who wrote in a pure Latin style and enjoyed the sobriquet "Prince of the Humanists." He 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 through the Reformation period, but while he was critical of the Church, he could not bring himself to join the cause of the Reformers. In relation to clerical abuses in the Church, Erasmus remained committed to reforming the Church from within. He also held to Catholic doctrines such as that of free will, which some Reformers rejected in favor of the doctrine of predestination. His middle road approach disappointed and even angered scholars in both camps. He died in Basel in 1536 and was buried in the formerly Catholic cathedral there, recently converted to a Reformed church. It starts off with a satirical learned encomium 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 Churchto which Erasmus was ever faithfuland 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. The title "Morias Encomium" can also be read as meaning "In praise of More". The double or triple meanings go on throughout the text. This edition Erasmus The Praise of Folly is illustrated with pictures of the famous writer.

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