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Erasmus' Praise of Folly (1508-1509)

            During the Renaissance, Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536), a Dutch scholar, matured theories concerning lives of men and human societies. Erasmus, in his declamation, talked in great length about how money and desires corrupt a human mind. Desiderius Erasmus's book, The Praise Of Folly, was written around 1509 and was a look at life in Europe through the eyes of "folly". Erasmus' work was at times cynical and mocking, especially in his opinion towards passions, desires and money.
             In Praise of Folly, Erasmus says in a very sarcastic tone that there are two madness's that are desirable; one of which is "the desire of war, or an insatiate thirst after gold, or some dishonest love, or parricide, or incest, or sacrilege" (Radice, electronic version). Erasmus says that this sort of madness, "desire" (Radice, electronic version), is desirable because its "pleasing dotage not only clears the mind of its troublesome cares but renders it more jocund" (Radice, electronic version). The author in this context is being mocking and sarcastic in that he says that anyone he willing succumbs to desire of any sort will become consumed by that desire. The desire for things such as war, money, love, will cause a man to have a both a lighthearted and uncaring mind. Erasmus describes desires as "somewhat little differing from madness" (Radice, electronic version), which make people "jocund, another while dejected, now weeping, then laughing, and again sighing" (Radice, electronic version). People that engage in their desires are in essence "praising folly" (Radice, electronic version).
             Erasmus' example of a person that is consumed in earthly desire is, ironically enough, the priests, clergy and people of the church; the very people that should not be interested in such activities. "A priest should be free from all worldly desires and think of nothing but heavenly things. Whereas on the contrary, these jolly fellows [are not]" (Radice, electronic version).

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