Desiderius Erasmus

Philosopher, Author

1466 – 1536

87

Who was Desiderius Erasmus?

Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus, known as Erasmus of Rotterdam, or simply Erasmus, was a Dutch Renaissance humanist, Catholic priest, social critic, teacher, and theologian.

Erasmus was a classical scholar who wrote in a pure Latin style. Amongst humanists, he 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 On Free Will, 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 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. Erasmus remained committed to reforming the Church and its clerics' abuses from within. He 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.

Famous Quotes:

  • It is wisdom in prosperity, when all is as thou wouldn't have it, to fear and suspect the worst.
  • Amongst the learned the lawyers claim first place, the most self-satisfied class of people, as they roll their rock of Sisyphus and string together six hundred laws in the same breath, no matter whether relevant or not, piling up opinion on opinion and gloss on gloss to make their profession seem the most difficult of all. Anything which causes trouble has special merit in their eyes.
  • They take unbelievable pleasure in the hideous blast of the hunting horn and baying of the hounds. Dogs dung smells sweet as cinnamon to them.
  • It's the generally accepted privilege of theologians to stretch the heavens, that is the Scriptures, like tanners with a hide.
  • Whether a party can have much success without a woman present I must ask others to decide, but one thing is certain, no party is any fun unless seasoned with folly.
  • No one respects a talent that is concealed.
  • Heaven grant that the burden you carry may have as easy an exit as it had an entrance. -- Prayer To A Pregnant Woman
  • It is the chiefest point of happiness that a man is willing to be what he is.
  • You'll see certain Pythagorean whose belief in communism of property goes to such lengths that they pick up anything lying about unguarded, and make off with it without a qualm of conscience as if it had come to them by law.
  • [Only by] the good influence of our conduct may we bring salvation in human affairs; or like a fatal comet we may bring destruction in our train.

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Born
Oct 27, 1466
Rotterdam
Also known as
  • Erasmus Rotterdam
Religion
  • Catholicism
Nationality
  • Netherlands
Profession
Education
  • University of Turin
  • Coll├Ęge de Montaigu
Lived in
  • Rotterdam
  • Gouda
Died
Jul 12, 1536
Basel

Submitted
on July 23, 2013

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