Of Erasmus's Praise Of Folly, And The Militant Christianity

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Desiderius Erasmus, a priest of Dutch origin, is often claimed to be the first and most influential Christian humanist, whose works sought to reform the then-corrupt Church of Rome (Erasmus 21). In particular, his In Praise of Folly and The Militant Christian were extremely persuasive works that sought to reform the views of Christians in regards to their faith and the means by which they practiced their religion. Erasmus took on a sarcastic tone in his Praise of Folly, as he claimed that folly, which is the natural and innocuous foolishness of human nature that was generally looked down upon during the Middle Ages, was crucial to the human spirit and man’s faith in God. In fact, Erasmus claims that Jesus himself was a fool in sacrificing…show more content…
Although many of Lucretius’ fundamental arguments were irreconcilable with Erasmus’ religious convictions, such as his claim of the inexistence of God (Greenblatt 188), his view that “free will”, rather than pre-determination by God, was the means by which man lived, markedly influenced Erasmus. Erasmus used this concept of man’s “free will” in his Handbook of the Militant Christian. Erasmus believed that religion, and faith in particular, were very personal matters, and that the external and public nature of the Church was unnecessary and contentious. Erasmus saw the public decorum of the Church as espousing and condoning a great amount of corruption and spiritual impurity, and that the complication and habitualness of church rituals only isolated the masses from God and the Holy Spirit even further (Erasmus 171). He believed that only the physical aspect of religion was emphasized; for example, priests would not tell worshippers that fasting not only meant abstaining from food, but also from the “flesh”, anger, hate, and other negative qualities (Erasmus 171). Erasmus claimed that man had the “free will” to either choose the “flesh”, which represented sin, or the “spirit”, which embodied the manifestation of Christ in man (Erasmus 49). Thus, personal beliefs and convictions, as well as individualism, were…show more content…
In particular, the stories of Griselda and the tragedy of Ghismonda are exemplars of Boccaccio’s views regarding both the virtues of women in comparison to those of men and the “new” virtù of the Renaissance. Boccaccio has the male character Dioneo tell the story of the Marquis of Saluzzo, Gualtieri, who decided to marry an impecunious peasant girl named Griselda. Gualtieri tried her loyalty by treating her horribly, claiming to have murdered her children, and ultimately forcing her out of the home and remarrying. However, Griselda was always courteous and kind despite the Gualtieri’s abuse and ridicule, and eventually, the Marquis informs Griselda that he was only testing her loyalty (Boccaccio 849). Gualtieri then proceeds to make Griselda the “lady of the castle”, and reunites her with the children she believed were killed after their births (Boccaccio 850). In this story, Boccaccio portrays the woman as possessing a superior personality (and thus, greater virtue) than the man that only gave her grief and despair. This tale narrates a virtue that Boccaccio believes only women possess; patience and gracious kindness when facing tribulations. In contrast to Niccolo Machiavelli, who deemed resilience as a primarily masculine virtue (Ruggiero

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