Erasmus, Utopia, and the Jesuits: Essays on the Outreach of Humanism

By John C. Olin | Go to book overview

do with Christ's command to love one another; it has to do with the values men live by; it has to do with changing and reforming lives. Obviously, the social dimension is paramount. The health of society depends on how men behave. Greedy landlords, ambitious princes, fawning courtiers cause suffering and disorder. It is they who bear the brunt of the criticism in the first Book of Utopia, and it is their absence in the commonwealth described in the second Book that makes that happy land Utopia. There the vices so prevalent in the Europe of More's time have been eradicated. Utopian laws and institutions supposedly have eliminated them, but it is actually the moral philosophy of the Utopians and their many virtues that have triumphed. Good people have built a good society. More's message, I think, is contained therein. Erasmus wrote that More "published Utopia to show what the cause of our civil problems are, having England which he knows and understands so well particularly in mind." 19 The conciseness and precision of that statement are admirable. If we read it in the context of what both men have written, it means that the causes lie within man himself and that a better world awaits man's moral reformation. It means that the redress of the social and political ills besetting Christian Europe in those critical times will only proceed from a change of heart in its peoples. More has dramatized that theme in Utopia; Erasmus has expounded it with special emphasis in the Adagia. Together they have raised a beacon on the margin of a stormy sea.


NOTES
1.
Margaret Mann Phillips, The 'Adages' of Erasmus: A Study with Translations ( Cambridge, 1964). See also Thomas M. Greene, "Erasmus's 'Festina lente': Vulnerabilities of the Humanist Text", in Mimesis: From Mirror to Method, Augustine to Descartes, edd. John D. Lyons and Stephen G. Nichols Jr. ( Hanover and London,

-67-

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Erasmus, Utopia, and the Jesuits: Essays on the Outreach of Humanism
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • List of Illustrations ix
  • Abbreviations xi
  • Introduction xiii
  • Notes xvii
  • 1 - Erasmus and Saint Jerome: The Close Bond and Its Significance 1
  • Notes 22
  • 2 - Erasmus and His Edition of Saint Hilary 27
  • Notes 34
  • 3 - Erasmus and Aldus Manutius 39
  • Notes 55
  • 4 - Erasmus' Adagia and More's Utopia 57
  • Notes 67
  • 5 - More, Montaigne, and Matthew Arnold: Thoughts on the Utopian Vision 71
  • Notes 83
  • 6 - The Jesuits, Humanism, and History 85
  • Notes 104
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