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translated and annotated by Craig R. Thompson
Copyright Date: 1997
Pages: 1296
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    Erasmus? Familiar Colloquies grew from a small collection of phrases, sentences, and snatches of dialogue written in Paris around 1497 to help his private pupils improve their command of Latin.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-5996-4
    Subjects: History, Philosophy, Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-xi)
  3. Illustrations
    (pp. xii-xiv)
  4. Foreword
    (pp. xv-xvi)
    James K. McConica

    The present volumes of the Collected Works of Erasmus, containing the annotated translation of Erasmus’Familiar Colloquies,are the fruit of singular dedication on the part of their translator and editor, Craig Thompson. As an early member of the Editorial Board (from 1974 on) he was one of those, with such as Wallace Ferguson and Sir Roger Mynors, whose initial support of the ambitious aims of the CWE brought with it the experience of a lifetime devoted to Erasmus scholarship, as well as the international reputation of his name. While his advice was invaluable to every aspect of the project...

  5. Introduction
    (pp. xvii-4)

    Towards the end of the colloquy ‘Cyclops’, a gloomy, sceptical character tells an acquaintance that prophets are declaring the imminent end of the world. ‘Where do they get the notion that the end of the world is near?’ They say it’s because men are behaving now just as they did before the Flood overwhelmed them. They feast, drink, stuff themselves, marry and are given in marriage, whore, buy, sell, pay and charge interest, build buildings. Kings make war, priests are zealous to increase their wealth, theologians invent syllogisms, monks roam through the world, the commons riot, Erasmus writes colloquies. In...

  6. Volume 39

      (pp. 5-34)

      TheColloquiesas the book we know – mainly a literary work in form and substance, not merely a popular guide to gaining competence in using Latin – took definitive form in the two editions of March and July-August 1522. Instead of a collection offormulaeand conversational passages it was to be henceforth a book of dialogues in which conversationalcopiacould be acquired, many of them of lasting artistic worth and historical interest; a book for mature readers rather than for schoolboys. Yet its original pedagogic purpose was never forgotten; it was simply less prominent as the volume grew larger....

      (pp. 35-43)

      First printed in the March 1522 edition without a distinctive title; in later editions calledDe visendo loca sacraandDe votis temeré susceptis.

      The names Arnold and Cornelius may have been borrowed from two of Erasmus’ friends, Arnoldus Bostius of Ghent (CWE Ep 53 introduction) and Cornells Gerard (CWE Ep 17 introduction), one of his earliest correspondents and confidants. Bostius was the person to whom Erasmus had written (Allen Ep 75: 13–19 / CWE Ep 75: 15–22) about his vain hope of visiting Rome, a fact that may account for the name Arnold in this dialogue. On...

      (pp. 44-52)

      First printed in the March 1522 edition without an identifying title; later calledDe sacerdotiisandDe captaríais sacerdotiis.

      Pamphagus (‘omnivorous,’ ‘gluttonous’) is the name of one of Actaeon’s hounds in Ovid’sMetamorphoses3.210 and appears in other sixteenth-century dialogues besides this one, for example in the LucianicCymbalum mundiof Bonaventure des Périers. See H. Busson ‘Pamphagus’ BHR 14 (1952) 289–93 and, on points of contact between Erasmus and des Périers, P.H. Nurse ‘Erasmus et des Périers’ BHR 30 (1968) 53–64. Whether Codes (‘one-eyed’) had an original is more likely than not, for this was one of...

      (pp. 53-63)

      First printed in the March 1522 edition asMilitaría;in running titles it is calledConfessio militisor, as in The Usefulness of theColloquies,’ Militis confessio.

      ‘If you want to see how wicked a thing war is, take a look at the men who wage it,’ Erasmus advised in his popular tractQuerela pads(1517; LB IV 639D–E / CWE 27 289–322). Another of his books, even more popular,Enchiridion(1503), was written to recall a soldier-courtier to piety. In moral essays, homilies, and satirical dialogues, his conception and treatment of the military are invariably severe. ‘Soldier,’...

      (pp. 64-69)

      First printed in the March 1522 edition.

      ‘Rabinus’ here denotes simply ‘master,’ but see ‘Military Affairs’ n17. Syrus is the name of a slave in TerenceAdelphiandHeautontimorumenos.

      While some of the commands and responses in this colloquy are authentic excerpts from sixteenth-century daily life, they are likewise stock lines for master and servant in other periods of social history, echoed in phrase books for schools, manuals of courtesy, and treatises on household management. See for example the collection of late medieval English precepts on domestic service inThe Babees Booked F.J. Furnivall EETS original series 32 (London...

      (pp. 70-73)

      First printed in the March 1522 edition asMonitoria;in some editions calledMonita paedagogica.

      This brief lesson in civility, like the preceding dialogue between master and servant, contains traditional material; many of the admonitions about decency and polite behaviour are as old as Clement of Alexandria’sPaedagogusbook 2 and no doubt much older. In this colloquy, Erasmus says, ‘I teach a boy modesty and manners suitable to his age’ (‘The Usefulness of theColloquies’1100: 26–7). We are not told the boy’s age – ten or thereabouts, probably.

      The advice given here is repeated and elaborated in Erasmus’...

    • SPORT
      (pp. 74-87)

      First printed in the March 1522 edition.

      ‘Codes’ is the name of a speaker in ‘Benefices’. Other names used here may have been borrowed from those of Erasmus’ acquaintances but are too common to allow us to do more than guess who they were, except that ‘Erasmius’ indicates Erasmius Froben.

      ‘Wolde god we myght go to playe!’ exclaims the pupil in an early Tudor textbook (John Stanbridge’sVulgariaed Beatrice White EETS original series 187 [London 1932] 28; Robert Whittinton’sVulgariais in the same volume). Sixteenth-century writers had much to say on the good and bad effects of games....

      (pp. 88-108)

      First printed in the March 1522 edition asConfabulatio pia.In ‘The Usefulness of theColloquies’it is calledPietas puerilis.

      Two of the boys in the preceding colloquy are named Erasmius and Gaspar. The name Erasmius recalls Erasmius Froben, Erasmus’ godson, who was six or seven years old in 1522 (see ‘Sport’ n37). In the present colloquy ‘Erasmius’ is printed in the first and subsequent editions until the final authorized one of March 1533, when it was changed to ‘Erasmus’; and so it appears in the 1538–40Opera omniaand LB. See ‘Erasmus and Erasmius’ 1120–1.


      (pp. 109-112)

      First printed in the March 1522 edition. Lawrence appears also in ‘Sport.’

      More and Erasmus both disliked hunting. More thought it foolishness (UtopiaYale CWM 4 171, 457), not the usual opinion in his England. Erasmus, who has a fine passage on the subject inMoriae encomium,thought it worse than mere foolishness (LB IV 441–442A–B / ASD IV-3 118:915–120: 926 / CWE 27 112-13). On other sixteenth-century criticism of hunting see Claus Uhlig, ’ “The Sobbing Deer”: As You Like it, 11.i.21-66 and the Historical Context’ inRenaissance Drama3 (1970) 79–109. On hunting by...

      (pp. 113-117)

      First printed in the March 1522 edition.

      The speakers are grammar-school boys, though perhaps less exemplary ones than Gaspar in ‘Youth.’ Andrew must be younger than the others, since he is still learning the Greek and Latin alphabets.

      The allusion to dictation in the second scene reminds us that taking down lessons dictated by the master and then memorizing them was still the normal method of learning in schools. By the date of this colloquy printing had made textbooks sufficiently plentiful and fairly cheap, but taking dictation, memorizing the material (or much of it), and reciting it continued to be...

      (pp. 118-131)

      This section, which briefly resumes the series offormulaebefore continuing the dialogues, was first printed in the November 1518 edition, but the text received many minor revisions and some additions in the 1519 and 1522 editions. See the introductions to ‘Patterns’ and to ‘The Profane Feast.’ At 134:4 these texts become what was later called ‘The Profane Feast.’

      Peter You’ve won my gratitude by writing from time to time.² I’m grateful to you for having written to me quite frequently. I love you for not thinking it beneath you to send me a letter from time to time. I’m...

      (pp. 132-163)

      First printed in the November 1518 and March 1522 editions. In early editions the material from here to the beginning of ‘A Short Rule for Copiousness,’ the next colloquy, lacked a distinctive title, but in the August–September 1524 edition it was given the running titleConvivium profanumon the page where Christian bids Peter fetch Augustine. This title was kept in later editions; Erasmus himself uses it in ‘The Usefulness of the Colloquies’ 1101:1, 1107:6–7). It is important to notice that several pages of the final text were a revision and enlargement, in the July–August 1522 edition,...

      (pp. 164-170)

      First printed in the November 1518 edition.

      Although linked by a few transitional phrases to what immediately precedes it and therefore a part of ‘The Profane Feast,’ this colloquy had a separate title even in the original edition, as though it were a separate composition. Parts of it were in hand as early as May 1499 (Allen Ep 260 introduction). It was the first version of what Erasmus expanded intoDe duplici copia verborum ac rerum,which was finally worked into shape for St Paul’s School and published in 1512, along withDe ratione studiiand a few minor works....

      (pp. 171-243)

      First printed in part in the March 1522 edition, completely in the later 1522 edition.

      MS Thottske Saml 73 Fol, one of three important Erasmian autograph codices in the Royal Library at Copenhagen, contains the text of this colloquy except for introductory passages, which fill only two and a half pages in the March 1522 edition (k2 verso–3 verso). The rest of the colloquy except for one line (see n17 below) was added in the next edition, July–August 1522 (i7 verso-n1 verso), but Erasmus made some alterations and additions, most of them slight, before giving it to the...

      (pp. 244-255)

      First printed in the July–August 1522 edition.

      MS Thottske Saml 73 Fol in the Royal Library at Copenhagen (see the introduction to ‘The Godly Feast’ 171) contains the text of this colloquy to 251:1; Erasmus made a few changes and additions before the text was finally printed. ASD prints the textual variants, the more significant of which are recorded in the notes to this translation.

      At first the Latin title was the one printed above, preceded by the names of the two speakers. Beginning with the edition of March 1524,Apotheosis Capnionisis added as a running title. On...

      (pp. 256-278)

      First printed in the August 1523 edition.

      This edition contains five colloquies on various aspects of love, marriage, sexuality, and feminism: ‘Courtship,’ ‘The Girl with No Interest in Marriage,’ ‘The Repentant Girl,’ ‘Marriage,’ and ‘The Young Man and the Harlot.’ To these were added in later editions ‘The Abbot and the Learned Lady’ (1524), ‘The Epithalamium of Pieter Gillis’ (1524), ‘The New Mother’ (1526), ‘A Marriage in Name Only’ (1529), and ‘The Council of Women’ (1529). These ten dialogues constitute a ‘marriage group’ in which themes often discussed by Erasmus in tractates or commentaries are presented through dramatic sketches. More...

      (pp. 279-301)

      First printed in the August 1523 edition, preceded by the names of the two speakers but without title or identifying running head. The present title was added in the March 1529 edition.

      This colloquy, developing themes briefly treated earlier in ‘Patterns’ (20:38–21:27 above), raises questions that were not only important in Reformation controversies but had involved Erasmus himself. Since questions of monastic versus secular life come up many times in one form or another in the later colloquies, what is said in this introductory note will be pertinent to certain other dialogues in this volume as well. If for...

      (pp. 302-305)

      First printed in the August 1523 edition.

      Like ‘The Girl with No Interest in Marriage,’ to which it is the sequel, this colloquy had no formal title in the first printing, only the names the speakers. The present title was added as a running head in the August–September 1524 edition.

      To the Parisian theologians’ complaint that the youth commends the girl not remaining ‘in religion,’ Erasmus retorted that what Eubulus really congratulates her upon is her prompt decision to leave the monastery before made irrevocable profession (Dedarationes ad censuras Lutetiae vulgatasLB IX 941E–F). It is not likely...

      (pp. 306-327)

      First printed in the August 1523 edition asConiugium.Later ‘The Wife Complaining of Marriage’ was added as a running title.

      The sound advice Eulalia gives to Xanthippe, though imparted confidentially, had been common property in texts on marriage since classical antiquity. Some of it comes obviously from St Paul; some is found expressly in Plutarch’sConiugalia praecepta (Moralia138A–146A); but Xenophon, Jerome, and other writers, pagan and Christian, are recalled by this colloquy. Most of the counsel in ‘Marriage’ would have been familiar to mature readers. In addition, his own observations and common sense supplied Erasmus with a...

      (pp. 328-343)

      First printed in the August 1523 edition.

      Contrasting of vocations, in particular those of the active and contemplative lives, had a long history in Christian literature. Erasmus seldom missed an opportunity to satirize soldiers or to attack their wickedness. On monks his judgments varied. He devoted more pages to their failings than to their virtues, and he questioned certain orthodox ideas and official claims about monasticism (see the introduction to The Girl with No Interest in Marriage’). But he did know good monks, and for this reason The Soldier and the Carthusian’ is a useful corrective to readers’ first impressions....

      (pp. 344-350)

      First printed in the August 1523 edition.

      Some early editions, though not the first, add Nαυάγιου as a running title. One of the more popular colloquies, this dialogue is the product of creative imagination, but it has themes so ancient and so familiar that literary precedents also were surely in the author’s mind when he wrote it. Parts of it, for example, recall the famous shipwrecks in Jonah 1 and Acts 27–28; other incidents were the common property of folklore, fables,exempla,and hagiography. Whatever the sources, Erasmus adapted them to suit his own purposes. Use of such material...

      (pp. 351-367)

      First printed in the August 1523 edition. Some early editions, though not the first, add Nαυάγιου as a running title. One of the more popular colloquies, this dialogue is the product of creative imagination, but it has themes so ancient and so familiar that literary precedents also were surely in the author’s mind when he wrote it. Parts of it, for example, recall the famous shipwrecks in Jonah 1 and Acts 27–28; other incidents were the common property of folklore, fables,exempla,and hagiography. Whatever the sources, Erasmus adapted them to suit his own purposes.

      Use of such material...

    • INNS
      (pp. 368-380)

      First printed in the August 1523 edition.

      As a frequent traveller but fastidious guest, Erasmus often had occasion to grumble about dangerous roads and inconvenient inns. In this sketch he draws a convincing and amusing picture of what must have been to him a tiresomely familiar experience. When resisting Pope Adrian VI’s invitation to Rome a few months before this colloquy was published, he included ‘sordida et incommoda diversoria,’ as well as the Alps, among the perils of the journey (Allen Ep 1352: 12–19 / CWE Ep 1352 14–23). Added to other discomforts, as far as Erasmus was...

      (pp. 381-389)

      First printed in the August 1523 edition.

      As a subject for edifying fiction, the penitent harlot has such a long literary pedigree that we cannot say for certain which traditions or versions were most familiar to Erasmus or furnished most hints for this colloquy. The oldest form of the Thai’s legend, in which a man of virtue, Paphnutius (or Serapion or Bessarion in other texts), converts the sinful Thai’s, is found in theVitae patrum(PL 73 661–4). This story was retold briefly in the medievalLegenda aureaorGolden Legendby Jacobus de Voragine, in theActa sanctorum...

      (pp. 390-418)

      First printed in the August 1523 edition.

      ‘In “The Poetic Feast,” Erasmus asserts, ‘I show what sort of feast scholars should have: frugal but gay and mirthful; seasoned with learned stories; without quarrels, bickering, or slander’ (‘The Usefulness of theColloquies’1102: 30–2). The feast provides few stories; the fare at this informal gathering is instead a pot-pourri of exegesis and textual criticism. Erasmus follows the classical precedents of Athenaeus and Aulus Gellius, whoseDeipnosophistaeandNoctes Atticaerespectively offer learned notes or miniature essays on a wide variety of lexical and antiquarian topics. He is indebted likewise to...

      (pp. 419-447)

      First printed in the March 1524 edition.

      The original title wasInquisitio;thende fidewas added in the edition of March 1529.

      Fideshere means belief, ‘the faith,’ Christian doctrine. Except for the opening and closing pages, the colloquy seems at first a conventional, pious exposition of the Apostles’ Creed, but when the prologue and concluding lines are given due weight, and the date and circumstances of its composition known, the inquiry proves to be something more than just another catechism. It is a significant document in one chapter of Reformation history and of Erasmus' biography. Though an irenic...

      (pp. 448-467)

      First printed in the March 1524 edition. Some editions haveSenile colloquiumas a running title.

      The device of bringing elderly men together to examine, with the help of their reminiscences, the variety of human experience and values is ancient and familiar, but Erasmus’ dialogue has a modern ring too, because this is a reunion of friends who were university students at the same time. We do not know if they resemble graduates he may have known in Paris or elsewhere; nor does it matter, for their counterparts are found in every community. (For Erasmus’ own university years in Paris...

      (pp. 468-498)

      First printed in the March 1524 edition. In later editionsFranciscaniwas added as a running title.

      According to Conradus Pellicanus, this colloquy is based on information he gave to Erasmus (Das Chronikon des Konrad Pellikaned Bernhard Riggenbach [Basel 1877] 79–80). Pellicanus claimed credit too for furnishing hints for the colloquy on the death of Reuchlin. A Franciscan who was also professor in Basel, Pellicanus left the order in 1526 and joined the Zwinglian reformers. Until that date he had been a close friend of Erasmus. On his career see CEBR.

      In The Usefulness of theColloquies’Erasmus...

      (pp. 499-519)

      First printed in the March 1524 edition asAntronius, Magdalia;later calledAbbatis et eruditae.

      This short dialogue is a fitting sequel to the longer one preceding it. Both convey trenchant and characteristic Erasmian criticism of clerics, but from different angles. In ‘The Well-to-do Beggars’ two virtuous Franciscans, through their conduct and discourse, enlighten a sceptical innkeeper about some truths of their religious life. By contrast, the failure of lazy and ignorant clergy to perform their duties is made clear by what we learn of the village priest. In ‘The Abbot and the Learned Lady’ we meet Antronius, an abbot...

      (pp. 520-530)

      First printed in the August–September 1524 edition.

      In this dialogue, the final version of a composition drafted ten years earlier, Erasmus congratulates an old friend, Pieter Gillis of Antwerp, on his marriage and pays tribute to the memory of another friend, Jèrôme de Busleyden of Louvain, Brussels, and Mechelen. These two names are forever connected with Thomas More's also, for it was through Gillis – so we are told inUtopia– that More met Raphael Hythloday, the Portuguese voyager who describes the island of Utopia. The first edition ofUtopiawas introduced by a letter of 1 November 1516 from...

      (pp. 531-544)

      First printed in the August–September 1524 edition.

      This colloquy is the first of four in the August–September 1524 edition that deal with varieties of deception or chicanery. An entertaining exposure of credulity and superstition, ‘Exorcism’ has additional interest because of the very strong probability that Thomas More played a leading part in the tricks described. Some uncertainties of interpretation exist, but these do not spoil the fun for the ordinary reader. For example, there are three characters named Faunus: the father-in-law of Polus named in the beginning of the dialogue, the duped priest who is the victim of...

      (pp. 545-556)

      First printed in the August–September 1524 edition.

      Erasmus had referred to alchemy in ‘Exorcism,’ also first printed in August–September 1524, and he turns to the subject again in the present colloquy and ‘Beggar Talk’ in that same edition. Undoubtedly he knew or heard of other swindles of the sort he describes here, though no specific source or occasion is known and none is needed. When commenting on the use of mean or vulgar things for great ends, Erasmus notes sardonically that alchemists, ‘those truly godlike men,’ use mud to conjure up the fifth essence (AdagiaIII vii 1...

      (pp. 557-561)

      First printed in the August-September 1524 edition.

      ‘Coursers of horses, by false means, make them look fast and fat’ (William HermanVulgaria[1519] ed M.R. James for the Roxburghe Club [Oxford 1926] 251). If the millennium ever comes, wrote George Gascoigne (1576), one signal of it will be ‘When horse corsers, beguile no friends with lades’ (The Steele Glas1084). Today we have only to substitute automobile renters or used-car dealers for horse-dealers to see that,mutatis mutandis,this anecdote by Erasmus is yet another example of the timeliness of many stories in theColloquies.The satisfaction of finding a...

      (pp. 562-570)

      First printed in the August-September 1524 edition.

      Alchemy and other brands of quackery, though embarrassing and expensive nuisances to their victims and a convenient theme for satirists, were scarcely major social evils. Far different was the ugly problem of begging. Only in the last dozen lines or so of the dialogue does this topic receive serious attention, but Erasmus, like other social critics, was well aware of its urgency. To give alms was a Christian duty, but to know that and to preach it was not enough. In hisA Supplication for the Beggars(1529; STC 10883), addressed to Henry...

      (pp. 571-589)

      First printed in the August–September 1524 edition.

      Some of the anecdotes (fabulae,hence the title of the colloquy) told at this party belong to well-known types found in ancient and medieval texts, in folklore, or in both. Others, such as those about Antony, priest of Louvain, may have come from current stories going the rounds or related in various times and places of various individuals, as so often happens with yarns like these. They could have come fromfacetiae(they are not in Poggio’s collection, however) orfabliauxor gossip we can no longer trace.

      To know where Erasmus...

      (pp. 590-618)

      First printed in the February 1526 edition.

      Though the combining of advice on nursing a baby with an exposition of the nature of the soul may seem an unpromising scheme for a dialogue, sixteenth-century readers would have found these two subjects less incongruous than many modern readers may think them. The question whether a mother ought to nurse her own child had a long history behind it, and doctrines of the soul were not so unfamiliar or so frightening to educated readers, at least to those who read Erasmus' books, as they may seem now.

      To Erasmus and his readers...

  7. Volume 40

      (pp. 619-674)

      First printed in the February 1526 edition.

      Erasmus visited the shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham in the summer of 1512 with a Cambridge friend (see n78 below and Ep 262). The text alludes to a previous visit also, but of that nothing is known (n7). The date of his visit to Canterbury, on which he was accompanied by John Colet, Dean of St Paul’s, is uncertain but must have been between 1512 and late June or early July of 1514, when he left England.

      The date of composition of this colloquy is equally uncertain. The supposititious letter from Mary...

      (pp. 675-762)

      First printed in the February 1526 edition.

      About the earlier history of this colloquy – when it was undertaken, or how long the writing took, or when it was completed and laid aside until Froben was ready to issue a new edition of theColloquia– we know little or nothing. Sometimes internal evidence can give us clues. In the case of ‘A Pilgrimage for Religion’s Sake’ and ‘A Fish Diet’ there is reason to think some lines were changes or additions dating from 1523 or 1524. Nor would that be surprising if we keep track of Erasmus’ experiences, moods, and opinions...

      (pp. 763-795)

      First printed in the February 1526 edition.

      Erasmus’ dialogue ‘The Funeral,’ dramatizing the dying of two men, is related loosely to the tradition ofars moriendi.Those discourses on how to die were an established type of Christian edification; for the history of this genre see Mary Catharine O’ConnorThe Art of Dying Well(New York 1942). A French treatise on the theme was translated into English by Caxton and published by him in 1490 and 1491 (STC 786, 789). Nancy L. BeatyThe Craft of Dying(New Haven 1970) surveys the tradition ofars moriendiin England. Erasmus contributed...

    • ECHO
      (pp. 796-801)

      First printed in the June 1526 edition.

      Acoustic conceits such as these echo scenes, in which the final phrase, word, or syllables of a verse are echoed immediately in the reply, were in antiquity and the age of Erasmus a fairly common form of linguistic dexterity. A useful account of them is provided by F.L. Lucas in his note on Webster’sDuchess of Malfi5.3.19–51, where the dramatist uses this device effectively (Complete Works of John Webstered F.L. Lucas 4 vols [London 1927] II 195–6). We know Webster was familiar with Erasmus’Colloquies;see ‘The Funeral’ n89....

      (pp. 802-808)

      First printed in the 1527 edition. ApparentlyDispar convivium‘unequal feast’ was added to suggest that variety of guests and dishes, if carefully chosen, is essential to a good feast. This alternative title was omitted in some later editions.

      The specific recommendations of Apicius for managing a dinner party, and the general soundness of his advice, are confirmed by scenes in other colloquies and in many anecdotes or observations scattered throughout the pages of Erasmus’ various writings. In ‘A Lesson in Manners,’ ‘The Profane Feast,’ ‘The Godly Feast,’ and ‘The Poetic Feast,’ we hear or see what makes a dinner...

      (pp. 809-817)

      First printed in the 1527 edition.

      ‘Things and names’ is a deceptively simple phrase. A reader encounters a slight variant of it (res et verba) in the opening lines ofDe ratione studii,where he is informed that things and words – objects of thought or experience and language – comprise the whole of knowledge (CWE 24 666). Upon examination, however, the phrase soon begins to seem not simple but complex; and in fact it was a technical phrase with which learned men found many difficulties. Consideration of it led them to the mysteries of universals, of the reality of genera and...

    • CHARON
      (pp. 818-830)

      First published as one of theColloquiain the March 1529 edition. The last edition of theColloquiapublished by Johann Froben came out in 1527. After his death in the autumn of that year the business was carried on by his son Hieronymus and Johann Herwagen, whom his widow married; in 1529 they were joined by her son-in-law, Nicolaus Episcopius. Herwagen left the firm in 1530.

      ‘Charon’ had an unusual history, for it was issued six years before appearing in theColloquia.It was printed in the same volume with theCatalogus omnium Erasmi Roterodami lucubrationumprepared by Erasmus...

      (pp. 831-841)

      First printed in theColloquiain the edition of March 1529. On this date see introduction to ‘Charon’ 818–19.

      In this colloquy Erasmus takes a holiday from more serious labours to settle a few scores by a brief and amusing satire of three old enemies, Paris theologians. Attacks on his edition and translation of the New Testament, his Annotations and Paraphrases,Colloquia,and other writings cost him time and trouble; they fill nearly five hundred columns in LB IX. In the age of print, opportunities for long and frequent exchanges, friendly or hostile, between scholars were plentiful. In Erasmus’...

      (pp. 842-859)

      First printed in theColloquiain the March 1529 edition. On the date see the introduction to ‘Charon’ 818–19.

      The Greek title is recollected from SophoclesOedipus tyrannus1214 or EuripidesHelen690. An ‘unequal marriage,’coniugium impar,is one in which there is disparity of class, health, religion, or some other serious impediment to harmony between husband and wife (Annotationes in Novum TestamentumLB VI 875F). Erasmus argues with unmistakable earnestness that marriage, a forced marriage at that, between a healthy and a diseased person is outrageous in fact if not in law. The young bride, Iphigenia, is...

      (pp. 860-862)

      First printed in theColloquiain the March 1529 edition. On the date see introduction to ‘Charon’ 818–19.

      Like ‘Echo’ and ‘Non-Sequiturs,’ this is a Lucianicjeu d’esprit.In the Greek writer’sPseudosophista(cleverly translated by H.W. and F.G. FowlerThe Works of Lucian of Samosata[Oxford 1905] IV 181–90), a man who prides himself on the correctness of his grammar and idiom fails to detect the intentional blunders made by a friend, though challenged to do so. The comparable trick inImposturaof disguising verse as prose is one that Erasmus says he himself had played on...

      (pp. 863-876)

      ‘Cyclops’ was one of nine new colloquies in the March 1529 edition. But another colloquy in that edition, ‘Charon,’ had already appeared in 1523; on that circumstance see the introduction to ‘Charon,’ 818–19 above. It was his study of ‘Cyclops’ that prompted Henry de Vocht to examine and reject the assertions in BE 2nd seriesColloquia1199 concerning the presence of this dialogue and eight others in an edition brought out by Eucharius Cervicornus of Cologne in 1528. De Vocht showed by bibliographical evidence that these nine colloquies were later insertions, anauctarium,in the Cologne edition, where they...

      (pp. 877-879)

      First printed in theColloquiain the March 1529 edition. On the date see the introduction to ‘Charon’ 818–19.

      Some of the younger readers for whom the early colloquies were written may have been puzzled at first by this dialogue, a pleasantry that illustrates talking at cross-purposes. The Greek title, ‘Aπροσδιóνυσα ‘not pertaining to Dionysus,’ was in classical antiquity applied to something irrelevant to the subject at hand (see LucianDionysius5). According to one explanation in Adagia II iv 57:Nihil ad Bacchum‘What has this to do with Bacchus?’ (Oὑδένπρòς ▲ιóνυσον) the saying arose when Greek poets...

      (pp. 880-890)

      First printed in the Colloquia in the March 1529 edition. On the date see the introduction to ‘Charon’ 818–19.

      Erasmus had strict opinions about nobility; an eloquent exposition of them can be found inInstitutio christiani matrimonii(LB v 668D–670A). His equally strong convictions about false or degenerate nobility are expressed in many places, including theColloquies.In The Knight without a Horse’ his depiction of Harpalus is both a personal attack and a satire of a type of pretender for whom he had only contempt. This self-styled knight was recognized by some of Erasmus’ readers as Heinrich...

      (pp. 891-904)

      First printed in theColloquiain the March 1529 edition. On the date see the introduction to ‘Charon’ 818–19.

      Erasmus’ attention to sports and recreations, evident in theColloquiesas in other writings (see ‘Sport’ and Ep 55), was a natural consequence of his concern with youth, education, history, and classical scholarship. The game he describes here with such ample learning – antiquarianism of a kind popular and respected in books for the ‘general reader’ of his day – was one of several varieties of games of chance used by the ancients. Eros and Ganymede played with golden knucklebones on Olympus...

      (pp. 905-915)

      First printed in theColloquiesin the March 1529 edition. On the date of publication see the introduction to ‘Charon’ 818–19. A remark in ‘The Usefulness of theColloquies’(1105: 31–4) seems to indicate that this colloquy was written earlier than ‘The Knight without a Horse,’ but in the printed versions ‘The Knight without a Horse’ comes first.

      This diversion was inspired by remembrance of a passage in the life of the emperor Heliogabalus attributed to Aelius Lampridius and included in theHistoria Augusta (Heliogabalus4.3–4). It wa s mentioned by Erasmus inLingua(1525; LB IV...

      (pp. 916-924)

      First printed in the September 1529 edition.

      Writing in March 1492 to his son Giovanni, who at the age of sixteen had just become a Roman cardinal, Lorenzo de’ Medici, ‘the Magnificent,’ added to other practical advice this admonition: ‘One rule above all others I recommend that you follow with utmost diligence, and that is to rise early in the morning, for besides being good for your health, this will enable you to think about and arrange all the business of the day.’ The youthful cardinal was to become Pope Leo x in 1513. Erasmus - who had been ordained...

      (pp. 925-930)

      First printed in the September 1529 edition.

      NηΦάλιουin the Greek title refers to ancient Athenian sacrifices at which libations were made without honey, only water mixed with wine being used. Hence a sober feast, like the one here, a social occasion instead of a religious rite, may have the same title if it is wineless and abstemious. So Erasmus tells us inAdagiaII ix 96.

      The opening lines of the dialogue recall the garden setting of some other colloquies, particularly ‘The Godly Feast.’ Although this convivium is much shorter, it meets the Erasmian requirements that at such gatherings...

      (pp. 931-937)

      First printed in the September 1529 edition.

      In this dialogue addressed to his godson, Johannes Erasmius Froben, but intended for all young students of language and literature, Erasmus voices strong doubts about certain fads and fallacies in education and lays down some hard truths about sound learning. Unfortunately his good counsel seems to have had no effect on Erasmius, though it may have been helpful to other schoolboys who read it in theColloquies.

      The familiar wordmemorandumrefers to what is known and should be kept in mind, ‘noted.’Ars notoriawas a medieval term signifying the ‘art’ of...

      (pp. 938-962)

      First printed in the September 1531 edition.

      The asperity of Erasmus’ ridicule in this reply to an ignorant detractor of his edition and Latin translation of the Greek New Testament is more readily understood if we recall that his labours on the New Testament met with immediate hostility as well as praise. By the standards of modern scholarship, his edition of the Greek text had serious deficiencies, yet it was a landmark in the history of biblical studies. It provided something new and exciting, a fresh way of approaching and understanding the Bible. Issued by Froben early in 1516, it...

      (pp. 963-978)

      First printed in the September 1531 edition.

      Desire and glory and pursuit of fame may be, as Montaigne tells us, the most universal of illusions (Essays1.41 ‘Of Glory’; Frame 187), but he reminds us of Cicero’s remark that even philosophers who write exhortations to scorn ambition take care to inscribe their names on the title-page (Pro Archia11.26;Tusculan Disputations1.15.32–5). The idea of imperishable human glory was almost obsessive in some of the ancient Greek and Roman heroes, statesmen, and poets. Much the same might be said of comparable figures in the late medieval and Renaissance societies...

      (pp. 979-995)

      First printed in the September 1531 edition.

      As a diverting sketch of daily life in a notable Venetian household, when Erasmus the Dutchman came to dinner and stayed for eight months, this dialogue seems fairly uncomplicated. Like some other colloquies, however, it is a by-product of the literary history of his early work on theAdagiaand of a much later reaction to the hostility of certain critics, some of them Italians. As a reader familiar with Erasmus’ personal history will recognize, this colloquy has echoes of a notoriously acrimonious and prolonged quarrel over hisCiceronianus(March 1528, withDe...

      (pp. 996-1032)

      First printed in the September 1531 edition.

      Like the earlier dialogue on Reuchlin this colloquy is a work of creative imagination but based on historical fact. It is one document of many that would merit attention in a comprehensive study of Erasmus’ relations with the Franciscan order and his judgment of their claims. He knew and approved of some Franciscans - Vitrier, for example - and presents two worthy Observant Franciscans in ‘The Well-to-do Beggars.’ More often, however, they are the objects of his criticism, as in ‘The Sermon’ and the present colloquy. For in recent years (1528–31) he...

      (pp. 1033-1055)

      First printed in the September 1531 edition.

      This is the first of two dialogues on nature in the September 1531 edition. ‘Sympathy’ deals with natural history, ‘A Problem’ with what used to be called natural philosophy. Many pages in theColloquiesand many passages in other writings by Erasmus testify to his lifelong interest in such topics, an interest reflecting literary and rhetorical inclinations as much as ‘scientific’ curiosity. His knowledge of nature came both from books and from observation, but mainly from books. Erwin Panofsky was correct in noting that ‘Erasmus’ response to art, like that of all Northern...

      (pp. 1056-1069)

      First printed in the March 1533 edition.

      In this brief dialogue Erasmus attempts to clarify the meaning of a topic in Aristotelian physics, as in an earlier colloquy, ‘The New Mother,’ he included a lesson on the soul from Aristotle’s psychology inDe anima.Aristotle’s philosophy of nature, set forth in thePhysics, De caelo,andDe generatione et corruptione,opposed the doctrines of the Pythagoreans and presocratic philosophers on many fundamental questions and differed also in important ways from those of Plato’sTimaeus.Most of the topics discussed in ‘A Problem’ are treated inDe caelo,especially book 4,...

      (pp. 1070-1094)

      First printed in the March 1533 edition.

      Like many other colloquies, this one begins with a question, which is then clarified, analysed, and answered. The question concerns the ‘ends’ of goods and evils. Accordingly the inquiry produces a critique of Epicurean ethics and comparison and contrast with Christian teachings and principles: a topic appropriate as a conclusion to theColloquies.For obvious reasons, Erasmus’ approach to such a subject lacks the jocularity of some earlier colloquies, but it has the familiar blend of pertinence, amiability, and informality we expect of him. The expositor of Epicureanism, Hedonius, with customary Erasmian conviction...

      (pp. 1095-1118)

      First printed in the June 1526 edition, where it follows the first printing of the anonymousScholia,brief explanatory notes on colloquies published before June 1526. TheseScholiawere reprinted in many early editions of theColloquia.‘The Usefulness of theColloquies’was included at or near the end of most editions of the text thereafter and with some translations as well. As though to prepare readers for its vigour and emphasis, a few excerpts from Erasmus’ letters, under the titleCoronis apologetica,preceded it in the Rabus and Schrevelius editions (1693), LB (1703), and others. Erasmus’ correspondence and other...

    (pp. 1120-1121)

    On Erasmus’ godson, Johannes Erasmius Froben, to whom theColloquiawas dedicated in 1522 and again in 1524 (Epp 1262 and 1476), see ‘Sport’ n37. ‘Erasmius’ is a character in three early dialogues and a later one: first in the section of ‘Sport’ (1522) called ‘The game of sending a ball through an iron ring’; then in ‘The Whole Duty of Youth’ (1522), ‘The Profane Feast’ (1522), and ‘The Art of Learning’ (1529). In ‘Sport’ and ‘The Art of Learning’ the name is correct and appropriate. In ‘The Whole Duty of Youth’ it is erroneous, I believe, and was corrected...

    (pp. 1122-1136)

    In Erasmus’ colloquy’ The Funeral/the conduct and discourse of Cornelius as he calmly awaits death testify to his steadfastness and religious faith; they delineate the Erasmian conception of how a pious Christian life should close. Cornelius is representative of a type of layman - the Christian gentleman - whom we have met earlier in “The Godly Feast/That Cornelius’ judgments are Erasmus’ own, not merely those of a character created by him, is confirmed by comparing what is said and done in the pages on Cornelius’ death with the expositions or arguments in Erasmus’ writings on the New Testament, the Psalms,...

    (pp. 1137-1138)
    (pp. 1139-1142)
    (pp. 1143-1150)
    (pp. 1151-1154)
  14. Index of Biblical and Apocryphal References
    (pp. 1155-1164)
  15. Index of Classical References
    (pp. 1165-1177)
  16. Index of Patristic, Medieval, and Renaissance References
    (pp. 1178-1187)
  17. General Index
    (pp. 1188-1227)
  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 1228-1228)