Erasmus of Rotterdam
Portrait of Erasmus of Rotterdam
Erasmus studied in a convent of the Augustine Brothers near Gouda (Holland) then in Paris, London and Cambridge where he struck up a friendship with Thomas More.
Then he became established in Turin, where he acquired his doctorate of theology, and in Florence.
In October1506 he is in Venice, at the Campo San Paternian, today Campo Manin, in the site of the Cassa Risparmio di Venezia, with the printer Aldo Manuzio.
It is this famous printing house that he takes part in the publication of Plato, Plutarch, Pindare, Pausanias, Plaute, Terence, and Seneca...
Erasmus met there other erudite persons who also collaborated with him, notably the Cardinal Pietro Bembo and especially Marco Musuro, a professor of Greek native to Crete which taught him Greek.
Erasmus and the Modern Times!
Erasmus complained about working conditions of this establishment where the work pace was such “that you could not even scratch your head any more!”.
He also complained about the avarice of his boss who made them serve some wine cut with water accompanied with a too frugal food...
Let us not forget that Erasmus was Dutch and that he undoubtedly had to have an appetite in proportion to his size!
Adages printed in 3,000 copies in Venice!
Although it should be in accord with his statements of insufficient nourishment and low-pay compared to the quantity and quality of the work provided, he had the satisfaction of least supervising the publication of his own writings, of which a new edition 3,000 copies of Adages were published, compared to only 800 in the first edition.
It is in this era that he wrote the famous “In Praise of Folly” devoted to his friend Thomas More and “The Education of the Christian Prince” dedicated to Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor.
Erasmus Expanded Borders of Human Intelligence
That is how Aretino, who usually is rather quick to criticize, expresses it as he wrote in a letter to a disciple of Erasmus: “Erasmus expanded borders of human intelligence and, in the self-imitation, resided in the memory of the men as unique.
He is an unequaled, strong source of words, inexhaustible river of intelligence, and immense ocean of writing. His merits are so large that no reflection can give an account of it.”
Erasmus leaves Venice in 1508
In autumn 1508, he leaves Venice, to become the tutor of the prince Alexander Stuart, then goes to Sienne and to Rome and from there from he returns to England.
at the end of 1509, he is in Cambridge where he teaches Greek. In 1521, he settles in Basel during while the conflict between Catholics and Protestants.
Martin Luther answered Erasmus’ essay “De Libero Arbitrio” (on the freedom of will) with his “De Servo Arbitrito”(on the bondage of will). Erasmus dies in Basel in 1536.