Desiderius Erasmus - Legacy

Legacy

The popularity of his books is reflected in the number of editions and translations that have appeared since the sixteenth century. Ten columns of the catalogue of the British Library are taken up with the enumeration of the works and their subsequent reprints. The greatest names of the classical and patristic world are among those translated, edited or annotated by Erasmus, including Saint Ambrose, Aristotle, Saint Augustine, Saint Basil, Saint John Chrysostom, Cicero and Saint Jerome.

In his native Rotterdam, the University and Gymnasium Erasmianum have been named in his honor. In 2003, a poll showing that most Rotterdammers believed Erasmus to be the designer of the local "Erasmus Bridge" instigated the founding of the Erasmus House, dedicated to celebrating Erasmus's legacy. Three moments in Erasmus's life are celebrated annually. On 1 April, the city celebrates the publication of his best-known book The Praise of Folly. On 11 July, the Night of Erasmus celebrates the lasting influence of his work. His birthday is celebrated on 28 October.

Erasmus's reputation and the interpretations of his work have varied over time. Following his death, there was a long period of time when his countrymen mourned his death. Moderate Catholics felt that he had been a leading figure in attempts to reform the Church, while Protestants recognized his initial support for Luther's ideas and the groundwork he laid for the future Reformation. By the 1560s, however, there was a marked change in reception.

The Catholic Counter-Reformation movement often condemned Erasmus as having "laid the egg that hatched the Reformation." Their critique of him was based principally on his not being strong enough in his criticism of Luther, not seeing the dangers of a vernacular Bible and dabbling in dangerous scriptural criticism that weakened the Church's arguments against Arianism and other doctrines. All of his works were placed on the Index of Prohibited Books by Pope Paul IV, and some of his works continued to be banned or viewed with caution in the later Index of Pope Pius IV.

According to Franz Anton Knittel, Erasmus in his Novum instrumentum omne did not incorporate the Comma from the Codex Montfortianus, because of grammar differences, but used Complutensian Polyglotta. According to him the Comma was known to Tertullian.

Protestant views of Erasmus fluctuated depending on region and period, with continuous support in his native Netherlands and in cities of the Upper Rhine area. However, following his death and in the late sixteenth century, Reformation supporters saw Erasmus's critiques of Luther and lifelong support for the universal Catholic Church as damning. His reception was particularly cold by the Reformed Protestant groups.

By the coming of the Age of Enlightenment, however, Erasmus increasingly again became a more widely respected cultural symbol and was hailed as an important figure by increasingly broad groups. In a letter to a friend, Erasmus once had written: "That you are patriotic will be praised by many and easily forgiven by everyone; but in my opinion it is wiser to treat men and things as though we held this world the common fatherland of all."

Several schools, faculties and universities in the Netherlands and Flanders are named after him, as is Erasmus Hall in Brooklyn, New York, USA. The European Union's Erasmus scholarships enable students to spend up to a year of their university courses in a university in another European country.

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Famous quotes containing the word legacy:

    What is popularly called fame is nothing but an empty name and a legacy from paganism.
    Desiderius Erasmus (c. 1466–1536)