and destructive of civility and concord. The right use of language is the source of good order and civility, and it is the path to concord, and to wisdom. 16

The Ciceronianus and its consequent quarrels highlight an important aspect of Erasmus' thought and personality. Both temperamentally and philosophically he was against extremes. In the religious differences leading up to the final splitting away by the reform groups from Rome, he strove to mediate, to keep a middle position between the extremes. Within devotional practice he complained of excessive devotion to Mary -- in one of his characteristic rhetorical questions he asks, who canonised the Virgin Mother? ( Thompson, 85) -- though he himself had a devotion to her and composed prayers and poems in her honour. 17

But with the hardening of differences between the reformers and Rome it was ever more difficult to find and keep a via media, and more dangerous. In matters of literature -- if one can ever completely separate literary concerns from those of society, politics and religion -- it was increasingly difficult as well. One of the sad consequences of the misreadings of the Ciceronianus is that concord and consensus were disappearing among the humanists, as well as among the religious reformers. When the centre gives way, as Yeats intoned,

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world . . . 18


Notes
1)
See R. J. Schoeck, "'Lighting a Candle to the Place: On the Dimensions and Implications of Imitatio in the Renaissance'", in Italian Culture 4 ( 1983) 123-42.
2)
One of the recurrent themes in my Erasmus Grandescens ( 1988) is the process of Eramus' learning through imitatio; see also Vol. 1 of this biography, 63-7 and 121 ff.
3)
Cf. Seamus Heaney, 'My tongue moved, a swung relaxing hinge', in 'Sibyl', Field Work, and many other instances of a rich awareness of lingua. See Johanna Tetzlaff, The Poetic consciousness: A Reading of Seamus Heaney's Poetry and Prose (MA thesis, Trier 1991).
4)
The close relation of these two words is discussed in ch. 32. See the discussion of language in terms of the early letters and poems in ch. 4.
5)
See M. M. Phillips, "'Erasmus on the tongue'", ERSYB 1 ( 1981) 113-25; Jacques Chomarat, Grammaire et Rhetorique ( 1981) II, 'La verité et la violence', 1118-55; and Laurel Carrington, "'Erasmus' Lingua: The Double-Edged tongue'", ERSYB 9 ( 1989) 106-18. The text has been edited in ASD IV. 1 ( 1974) by F. Schalk.
6)
The work was immediately popular, especially in Poland (thanks to Szydłowiecki) and in Spain: there were four editions in 1525 (two in Paris),

-317-

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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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