The work reflects a typical Renaissance attitude toward classical texts: to wit, that they were fit for appropriation and amplification, as expressions of a timeless wisdom first uncovered by the classical authors. It is, as well, an expression of the new Humanism. The Adagia could only have been possible in the new world of European education, in which careful attention to a broader range of classical texts produced a much fuller picture of the literature of antiquity than had been possible, or desired, in the medieval period. In a period in which sententiæ were often marked by special fonts and footnotes in printed texts, and in which the ability to use classical wisdom to bolster modern arguments was a critical part of scholarly and even political discourse, it is not surprising that Erasmus' Adagia was among the most popular volumes of the century.
Source: Erasmus, Desiderius. Adages in Collected Works of Erasmus. Trans. R.A.B Mynors et al. Volumes 31–36. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1982–2006. (A complete annotated translation into English. There is a one-volume selection: Erasmus, Desiderius. Adages. Ed. William Barker. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2001.)
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