Desiderius Erasmus
Quotations


Everyone knows that by far the happiest and universally enjoyable age of man is the first. What is there about babies which makes us hug and kiss and fondle them, so that even an enemy would give them help at that age?

What is popularly called fame is nothing but an empty name and a legacy from paganism.

It is an unscrupulous intellect that does not pay to antiquity its due reverence.

Manís mind is so formed that it is far more susceptible to falsehood than to truth.

The more ignorant, reckless and thoughtless a doctor is, the higher his reputation soars even amongst powerful princes.

Nature, more of a stepmother than a mother in several ways, has sown a seed of evil in the hearts of mortals, especially in the more thoughtful men, which makes them dissatisfied with their own lot and envious of anotherís.

In short, no association or alliance can be happy or stable without me. People canít long tolerate a ruler, nor can a master his servant, a maid her mistress, a teacher his pupil, a friend his friend nor a wife her husband, a landlord his tenant, a soldier his comrade nor a party-goer his companion, unless they sometimes have illusions about each other, make use of flattery, and have the sense to turn a blind eye and sweeten life for themselves with the honey of folly.

The entire world is my temple, and a very fine one too, if Iím not mistaken, and Iíll never lack priests to serve it as long as there are men.

Everybody hates a prodigy, detests an old head on young shoulders.

Now I believe I can hear the philosophers protesting that it can only be misery to live in folly, illusion, deception and ignorance, but it isnít -- itís human.

What difference is there, do you think, between those in Platoís cave who can only marvel at the shadows and images of various objects, provided they are content and donít know what they miss, and the philosopher who has emerged from the cave and sees the real things?

I doubt if a single individual could be found from the whole of mankind free from some form of insanity. The only difference is one of degree. A man who sees a gourd and takes it for his wife is called insane because this happens to very few people.

Ask a wise man to dinner and heíll upset everyone by his gloomy silence or tiresome questions. Invite him to a dance and youíll have a camel prancing about. Haul him off to a public entertainment and his face will be enough to spoil the peopleís entertainment.

This type of man who is devoted to the study of wisdom is always most unlucky in everything, and particularly when it comes to procreating children; I imagine this is because Nature wants to ensure that the evils of wisdom shall not spread further throughout mankind.

If you look at history youíll find that no state has been so plagued by its rulers as when power has fallen into the hands of some dabbler in philosophy or literary addict.

The nearer people approach old age the closer they return to a semblance of childhood, until the time comes for them to depart this life, again like children, neither tired of living nor aware of death.

Itís the generally accepted privilege of theologians to stretch the heavens, that is the Scriptures, like tanners with a hide.



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