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Literary and Educational Writings, 1 and 2

Literary and Educational Writings, 1 and 2: Volume 1: Antibarbari / Parabolae. Volume 2: De copia / De ratione studii, Volume 23-24

edited by Craig R. Thompson
Volume: 23-24
Copyright Date: 1978
Pages: 774
  • Book Info
    Literary and Educational Writings, 1 and 2
    Book Description:

    These volumes are the first in a series containing works by Erasmus 'that concern literature and education': interests which to him were scarcely separable. The aim of Erasmian education was a civilized life, expressed in Christian piety and the fulfilment of public and private duties and embellished by learning and literature. Towards these ends the soundest training for youth was what Erasmus often called bonne litterae, 'good letters,' a literary and rhetorical training based on Greek and Latin authors. For centuries the classical curriculum was the core of liberal education, and Erasmus was long regarded as its exemplar. Though never a university teacher except briefly at Cambridge (1311-14), he was a 'teacher of teachers' through his treatises on pedagogy and rhetoric and his many works of scholarship. The four works presented here in annotated translations are characteristic expressions of his dedication to learning and his confidence in the values of classical literature for the modern world of his time.

    Antibarbari (1520), translated and annotated by Margaret Mann Phillips, is a defence of the humanities against ignorant and misguided critics who question both their supposed worth and the appropriateness of pagan writings for Christian pupils. The reply of Erasmus becomes a manifesto in behalf of reason, scholarship, and literature. As for paganism, he insists that if secular knowledge is used properly it cannot harm but must help Christians. 'None of the liberal disciplines is Christian' because they all antedated Christianity, yet they 'all concern Christ' because they can be put to Christian uses.

    Parabolae (1514), translated and annotated by R.A.B. Mynors, a work that 'contributes eminently to style,' is a collection of similitudes drawn from observations of men, customs, and nature. Many are culled from Plutarch and Seneca, but for those from Seneca, and from Aristotle, the moral applications are added by Erasmus. As an exercise in the rhetoric of moral philosophy - 'many jewels in one small box,' Erasmus terms it-this book quickly became popular and long remained so.

    De copia (1512), translated and annotated by Betty 1. Knott, is not a plan for the entire curriculum but a treatise on the 'abundant' or rich style in writing and speaking Latin, a guide to attaining fluency and variety in discourse. As a manual for students De copia broke new ground. It was a remarkably successful work, used in schools in many lands for generations. From 1312 to 1600, more than 130 printings are recorded.

    De ratione studii (1312), translated and annotated by Brian McGregor, furnishes a concise but clear exposition of the curriculum, text, and methods of Erasmus' programme for liberal studies in grammar schools. Here as in all of his writings on education, language is the heart of the matter. The main goals are accurate, effective expression and communication in Latin, though Erasmus expects much besides literature to be learned from the study of literature. He emphasizes the necessity for competent and sympathetic teachers.

    Each translation is introduced by the translator, and a general introduction by the editor discusses the significance of each of the works, its relation to the others, and its subsequent fortunes. Wallace K. Ferguson provides an introductory essay, 'The Works of Erasmus.'

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7669-5
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. The Works of Erasmus
    (pp. xi-xviii)
    Wallace K. Ferguson
  5. Introduction
    (pp. xix-lxx)

    When Erasmus in 1523–4 and again in 1530 drew up a list of his writings¹ for an edition of his collected works, should one ever appear, he assigned to the first volume thosequae spectant ad institutionem literarum‘that concern literature and education.’² Among them are three of the four works in these first two volumes of a series devoted to translations of Erasmus’ literary and educational writings in CWE.De copiadescribes the principles and methods of abundant or ‘rich’ style in discourse.De ratione studiisummarizes the Erasmian curriculum in a liberal education.Parabolaeshows what ethical...

  6. THE ANTIBARBARIANS Antibarbarorum liber
    (pp. 1-122)

    The book which was hopefully calledThe Four Books of the Antibarbarianswas among the first of Erasmus’ works. He tells us that he began it before he was twenty, and if recent attempts to decide his birth year are correct, this would indicate the year 1487–8.¹ He had already written poetry, ‘to which study,’ he says, ‘I was much inclined as a boy – so much so that I had great difficulty in turning towards prose.’² He is rather sardonic about his earliest attempts. He had also by this time written an essay on the monastic life,De contemptu...

  7. PARALLELS Parabolae sive similia
    (pp. 123-278)

    Of the genesis of theParabolaewe learn much from the prefatory letter¹ in which the work is dedicated to Erasmus’ dear friend Pieter Gillis. It was a by-product of the work Erasmus put into the 1515 revision of theAdagiorum chiliades(first published in 1508), and into the collected works of Seneca, of which the first edition was published in 1515. For theAdagiahe was collecting only proverbs and words or phrases having a quasi-proverbial currency; but ancient moralists like Plutarch and Seneca contain much wisdom in the form, not of proverbs but of aphorisms, illustrated by comparison...

    (pp. i-x)
  9. COPIA: FOUNDATIONS OF THE ABUNDANT STYLE De duplici copia verborum ac rerum commentarii duo
    (pp. 279-660)

    The idea of providing teaching materials to assist schoolboys towards that competence and fluency in the Latin language which was so highly prized at the time was already in Erasmus’ mind when he was in Paris in the 1490s. He was working on several topics in Latin grammar and idiom – for example, his epitome of Lorenzo Valla’sElegantiae linguae latinaewhich he made for a schoolmaster (and lent copies of to his friends, though he did not authorize publication until 1531).¹ The first sketch of his ideas oncopia,the rich oratorical style, and of the means of acquiring it,...

  10. ON THE METHOD OF STUDY De ratione studii ac legendi interpretandique auctores
    (pp. 661-692)

    Praecipitat omnia‘He writes everything in a hurry’: the celebrated selfcritique, in theCiceronianus,¹ of his literary style should not delude us into supposing that the thoughts which flowed with such apparent ease from the pen of Erasmus were the facile effusions of a shallow mind. The germination of the educational programme which finds its mature expression inDe ratione studiican be traced back to Erasmus’ letters of the years 1496–8, which he spent in Paris, where he was obliged to earn his living by giving lessons to Christian and Heinrich Northoff, the sons of a merchant from...

    (pp. 693-702)

    Already I hear some of my friends from time to time grumbling about the division of my entire works into volumes. Whether there is anything in my writings that is worthy of posterity, be it for others to decide; at least, if they do descend to our successors, I could wish I had some loyal and scholarly Tiro to do for me when I am dead what he did for Cicero his master. And yet, in case anyone thinks it worth trying, why, I will show him the most convenient way to do it.

    In the first volume can be...

    (pp. 703-705)
    (pp. 706-710)
  14. List of Facts, Objects, Creatures Used as Parallels in Parabolae
    (pp. 711-722)
  15. Index of Classical Sources in Parabolae
    (pp. 723-726)
  16. Index of Classical and Early Christian Sources in De copia
    (pp. 727-736)
  17. General Index
    (pp. 737-775)
  18. [Back Matter]
    (pp. 776-776)