The goddess Folly gives a speech, praising herself and explaining how much humanity benefits from her services, from politicians to philosophers, aristocrats, schoolteachers, poets, lawyers, theologians, monarchs and the clergy. At the same time, her discourse provides a satire of Erasmus’s world, poking fun at false pedantry and the aberrations of Christianity. Woven throughout her monologue, a thread of irony calls into question the goddess’s own words, in which ambiguities, allusions and interpretations collide in a way that makes Praise of Folly enduringly fascinating.
In addition to a new translation of Praise of Folly, this volume also includes other works by Erasmus: Pope Julius Barred from Heaven, Epigram against Pope Julius II and a selection of his Adages. Together with the extensive annotation of the texts, these help to set Erasmus’s masterpiece.