Erasmus on His Times: A Shortened Version of the 'Adages' of Erasmus

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The Adagia of Erasmus (surely the original best-seller) was first published in 1500. It went through numerous impressions and ten major revisions in the course of Erasmus's life. Its influence was incalculable. It disseminated humanist learning and humanist attitudes among the new reading public to such an extent that it can be claimed as one of the books that contributed most to form the European mind. The adages were proverbs or popular sayings taken from classical literature. Many are part of the common stock of our speech today. A necessary evil, cupboard love, a rare bird, an iron in the fire, are all to be found in the Adagia. Erasmus refers each to its source; then follows with a commentary on the meaning and with whatever ideas and personal observations arose from it. The book's influence waned after his death.

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Про автора (1967)

Desiderius Erasmus was born, probably in 1469, in Rotterdam, Holland. He studied in Paris, traveled in England, Germany, and Italy, and wrote in Latin. Living at the time of the Renaissance when most intellectual concepts were being examined, Erasmus was a great admirer of the ancient writers and edited many of their works. Erasmus remained a Roman Catholic, but believed that many of the priests and theologians had distorted the simple teachings of Jesus. He published an edition of the New Testament-the first edition in the original Greek-in order to make clear the essential teachings of Christianity. Erasmus liked above all things clear and honest thinking; he despised intolerance and persecution. He was the greatest of the humanists because his books, more effectively than any others, propagated a humane philosophy of life, teaching that one's chief duties are to be intelligent, open-minded, and charitable. The most famous and the most influential of Erasumus' books were The Praise of Folly (1509) and Colloquies (1518). These works, written in lively, colloquial, and witty Latin, expressed his ideas on the manners and customs of his time. Erasmus exerted a powerful influence not only through his books, but also through the private letters that he wrote to a great number of humanist scholars in all parts of Western Europe. He carried on extensive correspondences with Thomas More of England. More than 1500 of his letters survive today. Erasmus died in Basel, Switzerland, on July 12, 1536.

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