Erasmus' life was one of ideas and ideals; and, to use a nineteenth- century term, we would now want to call him an intellectual. But he would have insisted rather that he was a humanist, in the sense defined in chapter 12 and used consistently in this biography.

Yet his life was filled with movement from place to place, and it was enriched by friends: he was always trying to cultivate the old ones and always eager to make new ones. A deep and fervent belief in friendship as one of the supreme virtues of the human condition was one of his most consistent characteristics.

The flow of letters to Erasmus wherever he was, and the prodigious number that he sent out -- more and more of them transcribed by his secretaries either from dictation or from his rapidly scribbled first drafts -- were vital to individual friendships and to the maintaining of the networks everywhere of friends. No wonder that he spoke of spending half his days in the writing of letters. Those letters, I have suggested, were instrumental in the development of his unique familiar style and to the heightening of his sense of readers, of having an audience of friends with shared interests and convictions, and vitalised too by his rich sense of geography. Some friendships, one reflects years later, are limited to the place shared -- as with Aldus, which lasted, really, only so long as he was in Venice (many of us would add some Army friendships) -- but others are not so limited. In the years immediately following 1517 when Erasmus was at the pinnacle of fame, universally recognised as the prince of humanists in Europe, he had an abundance of friends everywhere; and that abundance mattered greatly to him.


Notes
1)
It is striking that among Erasmus' contemporaries there were others who were acutely conscious of friendship and reflected upon it. In Ep. 744 from Budé there is a memorable metaphor for friendship: 'I preferred to deal with you by the strict letter of the law under the provisions of the Statute of Friendship' ( CWE 5:248/97-8), alluding to the requirement of giving true advice with frankness (parrhesia): cf. Cicero, De Amicitia, 13. 44-5. A fine metaphor for a lawyer.
2)
The first quotation is in CWE 1:17/3-4 (Ep. 13, Allen I, 86/1-2); the second, CWE 1:36/15-20 (Ep. 23, Allen I, 104/13-18). But monastic discipline (as I have observed in ch. 5) 'cautioned against too much human friendship that might impede the love of Christ, as in The Imitation of Christ, I. vi, on inordinate affections ( Opera II, 13-4)' (104).
3)
Which of the two friends knew Lucian first and which first proposed translating his writings into Latin, as Craig R. Thompson has observed, we simply do not know: Translations of Lucian, vol. 3/1 in Complete Works of StThomas More

-259-

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Erasmus of Europe: - Vol. 2
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Notes xiv
  • List of Abbreviations xv
  • List of ILlustrations xvii
  • 18 Return from England: the Years in Flanders and Paris, 1501-1502 1
  • 19 the Early Louvain Years, 1502-1504 14
  • Notes 24
  • 20 the Enchiridion: 'Philosophia Christi' 28
  • Notes 40
  • 21 1504, a Threshold Year 41
  • Notes 49
  • 22 Return to England, 1505-1506 51
  • Notes 59
  • 23 Italy, 1506-1509 62
  • Notes 71
  • 24 the Adages 74
  • Notes 82
  • 25 England Again, 1509: the 'Period of Silence' 86
  • Notes 92
  • 25 the Praise of Folly 95
  • Notes 105
  • 27 the Cambridge Years, 1511-1514 109
  • Notes 122
  • 28 the Changing World in 1514 126
  • 29 Vocation and Life-Style 140
  • Notes 147
  • 30 to Basel, Summer 1514 149
  • Notes 161
  • 31 1516, the Annus Mirabilis 165
  • Notes 173
  • 32 the New Testament: A Life Work 175
  • Notes 189
  • Notes 210
  • 34 the Rising Storm of Controversy: Erasmus and His Catholic Critics, 1517-1522 216
  • Notes 231
  • 35 the Colloquies 236
  • Notes 243
  • Erasmus and His Friends: His Audience and His Geography 247
  • Notes 259
  • 37 Reform and Reformation: Ecclesia Semper Reformanda 263
  • Notes 278
  • 38 the Basel Years, 1521-1529: the Reformation Storm Rising 283
  • 39 Erasmus and Luther: on the Freedom of the Will 298
  • Notes 306
  • 40 Language and Style 310
  • Notes 317
  • 41 the Basel Years: Humanism and Religion 320
  • Notes 333
  • 42 the Freiburg Years, 1529-1535 337
  • Notes 346
  • 43 the Final Act at Basel: Summer 1535 to July 1536 350
  • Notes 359
  • 44 the Achievement of Erasmus and His Place in History 362
  • Notes 377
  • Appendix C Erasmus' Dispensations 381
  • Notes 383
  • Appendix D Erasmus' Wills 384
  • Notes 385
  • Appendix E Portraits of Erasmus 387
  • An Erasmian Chronology: LIfe and Writings 390
  • Bibliography 393
  • Index of Names of Persons 408
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