Erasmus of Europe: - Vol. 2

Erasmus of Europe: - Vol. 2

Erasmus of Europe: - Vol. 2

Erasmus of Europe: - Vol. 2

Synopsis

This is an ambitious and wide-ranging biography of Erasmus of Rotterdam, one of the most famous Renaissance humanists. In part a riveting narrative account of the philosopher's journeys from his monastery to service with a great Burgundian bishop, and from there to Paris, England the Low Countries and Switzerland, this comprehensive and definitive biography also looks at the history of ideas in which Erasmus played a vital role. Covering the formative years of Erasmus the humanist, this new study makes full analyses of all his early writings, ncluding his Letters, his contributions to Renaissance dialogue and essay, and particularly his Adagia, the colloquies, and the Praise of Folly. After years of intensive research, and in an area which is essentially multidisciplinary, Professor Schoeck brings together serious historical, literary, theological and philosophical study in a unique way.

Excerpt

In the first volume of this biography we followed Erasmus of Rotterdam from his earliest years in Holland to his maturer years in Paris; and we witnessed the publication in 1500 of his first book, Adagiorum Collectanea. That little book of 152 pages may not now seem like a great achievement for an ambitious humanistic scholar of thirty-three, but a good deal of growth can be marked as we moved from the early letters and poems to this stage of his development. Further, while there is some Greek among the 818 adages of the 1500 Collectanea it is fundamentally a work of Latin scholarship, drawing from the poets of the Latin canon, dramatists and a range of prose writers. Among the Fathers of the Church use was made especially of Jerome and Augustine. And we found that Erasmus also drew from such 'moderns' as Politian, Hermolaus Barbarus, and Filelfo. Except for a few Romans who were omitted or slighted, perhaps simply because they did not readily yield up adages for Erasmus' net -- Ovid and Lucretius notably -- Erasmus made use of the major authors of the renaissance canon, and he had established his remarkable familiarity with their texts. That range of authors will be extended much more widely, especially after 1508, to include more Greek writers. Along with Erasmus' rapidly developing style, everywhere remarked upon and everywhere imitated (but rarely with complete success) for its great ease and grace, the 1500 Collectanea indeed marked Erasmus' growth as a humanist.

By this time Erasmus was no longer primarily Dutch, and from time to time he referred to himself as German. At Paris he had belonged to the German nation of students, and his world was rapidly widening to include the Rhineland and, quite soon, Switzerland and Italy. He was becoming, in fact, homo Europaeus, and very much a cosmopolitan. His home after 1500 would be where his books were, and his friends were no further away than a letter; and the time needed for letters to reach a correspondent in one of the major cities of western Europe could be little more than it is today. Another change can be marked: Erasmus did not want to continue as . . .

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