The Praise of Folly was written by Erasmus to his Friend Thomas More on his way from Italy to England. Since riding horseback is boring he thought of things to amuse himself. Why the Praise of folly? Well More is close to Moria the Greek word for folly. Obviously Thomas More was not foolish, in fact he was far from foolish as possible. So it was a witty joke between the to men. So really the Praise of Folly is the Praise of More.
So Folly gives a speak to a group of men singing her own praises. It’s foolish, what did you think? It’s Folly speaking. She is a goddess the daughter of Plutus and Neotes (Youth). So Folly goes on to describe why she is the kindest of the gods. Namely, she gives her gifts to all without partiality. She goes on to describe why she is responsible for life namely, folly makes men make idiots of themselves for women; it makes people forget the trial that marriage brings. Once people are married, folly makes women ignore the fact that child bearing and rearing is a tiring task; once women give birth folly makes them forget the pain of birth so that they have more than one child.
Last but not least Folly takes the Catholic church to task. Here we see the voice of Erasmus most clearly. Folly takes the church to task for the crusades as well as the immature behavior of the bishops and other church leaders.
Folly takes her leave without giving an epilogue. Rather she reminds her listeners that even Fools say something worth remembering.
It was a very clever work. There were meaning on meanings. Certain things had like three levels of cleverness built it. So the statement could have been taken several different way. Erasmus started a rhetorical trend with this book. Most speechs were on serious subjects, no one bothered waxing eloquent on nonsensical topics prior to this. But then it became quite vogue.
So on April Fools here’s to the Praise of Folly!!!! Let me know how you liked my joke.