Desiderius Erasmus' The Praise of Folly
Firstly written for private circulation, the Praise of Folly, by Desiderius Erasmus, describes the abuses and follies of the various classes of society, but especially the ones from the church. It is a cold inspiration, deliberate attempt to discredit the church, and its satire and harsh comment on ecclesiastical conditions were so repetitive that a reader can easily realize that the main purpose of Erasmus writing this masterpiece was to persuade the people to start questioning the manners of the Romanists’ religious authority. The Praise of Folly, takes on a very diverse form of life during 1509, sixteenth century Europe, and it is a demostration of how Erasmus could turn his literary and beautiful writing talent to incomparable and unique sarcasms to denunciate the immorality and wickedness of men. The Praise of Folly is written from the point of view of Folly, a Greek goddess, who delivers a speech praising herself “And to whom is it generally agreed life owes its beginning if not to me? (Erasmus, The Praise of Folly, Spanish Version, 3).” Here, she is saying that she is the beginning of all life, and that she should be the most regarded person in the world. In addition, in the entire book she tries to convince the reader that they can never have self-love, flattery, forgetfulness, idleness, pleasures, madness, sensuality, revelry, and dead sleep without the presence of her. In Folly’s eyes, she proves these items as being virtues and not defects, and she tricks the reader into believing that all foolishness is, in fact wisdom. However, Erasmus really meant in this book that because of these “virtues”, called by Folly in this way, there was so much corruption and misdeeds in the world that would lead it to a big catastrophe before the God’s eyes. On the other hand, what Erasmus wanted to accomplish throughout the voice of this goddess “Folly”, was to single out the different classes...
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