Famous Erasmus Quotes
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Home Free Famous Philosopher Quotes Desiderius Erasmus

Erasmus is famous for having said the following quotes:

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The fox has many tricks. The hedgehog has but one. But that is the best of all.
Erasmus

The nearer people approach old age the closer they return to a semblance of childhood, until the time comes for them to depart this life, again like children, neither tired of living nor aware of death.
Erasmus

Everyone knows that by far the happiest and universally enjoyable age of man is the first. What is there about babies which makes us hug and kiss and fondle them, so that even an enemy would give them help at that age?
Erasmus

When I get a little money, I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes.
Erasmus

You'll see certain Pythagorean whose belief in communism of property goes to such lengths that they pick up anything lying about unguarded, and make off with it without a qualm of conscience as if it had come to them by law.
Erasmus

Nothing is as peevish and pedantic as men's judgments of one another.
Erasmus

Man's mind is so formed that it is far more susceptible to falsehood than to truth.
Erasmus

The more ignorant, reckless and thoughtless a doctor is, the higher his reputation soars even amongst powerful princes.
Erasmus

Great eagerness in the pursuit of wealth, pleasure, or honor, cannot exist without sin.
Erasmus

Nature, more of a stepmother than a mother in several ways, has sown a seed of evil in the hearts of mortals, especially in the more thoughtful men, which makes them dissatisfied with their own lot and envious of another s.
Erasmus

What is popularly called fame is nothing but an empty name and a legacy from paganism.
Erasmus

The entire world is my temple, and a very fine one too, if I'm not mistaken, and I'll never lack priests to serve it as long as there are men.
Erasmus

In short, no association or alliance can be happy or stable without me. People can't long tolerate a ruler, nor can a master his servant, a maid her mistress, a teacher his pupil, a friend his friend nor a wife her husband, a landlord his tenant, a soldier his comrade nor a party-goer his companion, unless they sometimes have illusions about each other, make use of flattery, and have the sense to turn a blind eye and sweeten life for themselves with the honey of folly.
Erasmus

Fools are without number.
Erasmus

Everybody hates a prodigy, detests an old head on young shoulders.
Erasmus

Time takes away the grief of men.
Erasmus

A nail is driven out by another nail. Habit is overcome by habit.
Erasmus

It is the chiefest point of happiness that a man is willing to be what he is.
Erasmus

Now I believe I can hear the philosophers protesting that it can only be misery to live in folly, illusion, deception and ignorance, but it isn't --it's human.
Erasmus

They take unbelievable pleasure in the hideous blast of the hunting horn and baying of the hounds. Dogs dung smells sweet as cinnamon to them.
Erasmus

What difference is there, do you think, between those in Plato's cave who can only marvel at the shadows and images of various objects, provided they are content and don't know what they miss, and the philosopher who has emerged from the cave and sees the real things?
Erasmus

I doubt if a single individual could be found from the whole of mankind free from some form of insanity. The only difference is one of degree. A man who sees a gourd and takes it for his wife is called insane because this happens to very few people.
Erasmus

Ask a wise man to dinner and he'll upset everyone by his gloomy silence or tiresome questions. Invite him to a dance and you'll have a camel prancing about. Haul him off to a public entertainment and his face will be enough to spoil the people's entertainment.
Erasmus

By a Carpenter mankind was made, and only by that Carpenter can mankind be remade.
Erasmus

Amongst the learned the lawyers claim first place, the most self-satisfied class of people, as they roll their rock of Sisyphus and string together six hundred laws in the same breath, no matter whether relevant or not, piling up opinion on opinion and gloss on gloss to make their profession seem the most difficult of all. Anything which causes trouble has special merit in their eyes.
Erasmus

This type of man who is devoted to the study of wisdom is always most unlucky in everything, and particularly when it comes to procreating children; I imagine this is because Nature wants to ensure that the evils of wisdom shall not spread further throughout mankind.
Erasmus

Your library is your paradise.
Erasmus

Give light, and the darkness will disappear of itself.
Erasmus

If you look at history you'll find that no state has been so plagued by its rulers as when power has fallen into the hands of some dabbler in philosophy or literary addict.
Erasmus

Whether a party can have much success without a woman present I must ask others to decide, but one thing is certain, no party is any fun unless seasoned with folly.
Erasmus

Jupiter, not wanting man's life to be wholly gloomy and grim, has bestowed far more passion than reason --you could reckon the ration as twenty-four to one. Moreover, he confined reason to a cramped corner of the head and left all the rest of the body to the passions.
Erasmus

It is wisdom in prosperity, when all is as thou wouldn't have it, to fear and suspect the worst.
Erasmus

As an example of just how useless these philosophers are for any practice in life there is Socrates himself, the one and only wise man, according to the Delphic Oracle. Whenever he tried to do anything in public he had to break off amid general laughter. While he was philosophizing about clouds and ideas, measuring a flea's foot and marveling at a midge's humming, he learned nothing about the affairs of ordinary life.
Erasmus

Nothing is so foolish, they say, as for a man to stand for office and woo the crowd to win its vote, buy its support with presents, court the applause of all those fools and feel self-satisfied when they cry their approval, and then in his hour of triumph to be carried round like an effigy for the public to stare at, and end up cast in bronze to stand in the market place.
Erasmus

For them it's out-of-date and outmoded to perform miracles; teaching the people is too like hard work, interpreting the holy scriptures is for schoolmen and praying is a waste of time; to shed tears is weak and womanish, to be needy is degrading; to suffer defeat is a disgrace and hardly fitting for one who scarcely permits the greatest of kings to kiss the toes of his sacred feet; and finally, death is an unattractive prospect, and dying on a cross would be an ignominious end.
Erasmus

Heaven grant that the burden you carry may have as easy an exit as it had an entrance. [Prayer To A Pregnant Woman]
Erasmus

Prevention is better than cure.
Erasmus

Picture the prince, such as most of them are today: a man ignorant of the law, well-nigh an enemy to his people's advantage, while intent on his personal convenience, a dedicated voluptuary, a hater of learning, freedom and truth, without a thought for the interests of his country, and measuring everything in terms of his own profit and desires.
Erasmus

People who use their erudition to write for a learned minority... don't seem to me favored by fortune but rather to be pitied for their continuous self-torture. They add, change, remove, lay aside, take up, rephrase, show to their friends, keep for nine years and are never satisfied. And their futile reward, a word of praise from a handful of people, they win at such a cost -- so many late nights, such loss of sleep, sweetest of all things, and so much sweat and anguish... their health deteriorates, their looks are destroyed, they suffer partial or total blindness, poverty, ill-will, denial of pleasure, premature old age and early death.
Erasmus

No one respects a talent that is concealed.
Erasmus

Concealed talent brings no reputation.
Erasmus

It's the generally accepted privilege of theologians to stretch the heavens, that is the Scriptures, like tanners with a hide.
Erasmus

War is delightful to those who have had no experience of it.
Erasmus

Great abundance of riches cannot be gathered and kept by any man without sin.

Erasmus

Some more Desiderius Erasmus quotes

  • "In the country of the blind the one eyed man is king" (an arabian proverb is "The one-eyed person is a beauty in the country of the blind")
  • "To know nothing is the happiest life"
  • "This type of man who is devoted to the study of wisdom is always most unlucky in everything, and particularly when it comes to procreating children; I imagine this is because Nature wants to ensure that the evils of wisdom shall not spread further throughout mankind."
  • "When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes." (Currently used on one of Amazon's complimentary bookmarks.)
  • [The above is the "urban myth" version. The real quote, in the original Latin from a letter to Jacob Batt, dated 12 April 1500 is, "Ad Graecas literas totum animum applicui; statimque, ut pecuniam accpero, Graecus primum autores, deinde vestes emam." In English, this reads, "I have turned my entire attention to Greek. The first thing I shall do, as soon as the money arrives, is to buy some Greek authors; after that, I shall buy clothes." [Source: Collected Works of Erasmus, Vol 1, page 252. Toronto, University of Toronto Press 1974]
  • "It is the friendship of books that has made me perfectly happy."
  • "Believe that you have it, and you have it!"
  • "War is delightful to those who have had no experience of it."
  • "There is nothing I congratulate myself on more heartily than on never having joined a sect."
  • "I have no patience with those who say that sexual excitement is shameful and that venereal stimuli have their origin not in nature, but in sin. Nothing is so far from the truth. As if marriage, whose function cannot be fulfilled without these incitements, did not rise above blame. In other living creatures, where do these incitements come from? From nature or from sin? From nature, of course. It must borne in mind that in the apetites of the body there is very little difference between man and other living creatures. Finally, we defile by our imagination what of its own nature is fair and holy. If we were willing to evaluate things not according to the opinion of the crowd, but according to nature itself, how is it less repulsive to eat, chew, digest, evacuate, and sleep after the fashion of dumb animals, than to enjoy lawful and permitted carnal relations?" From De Conscribendis Epistolas
  • "The rules of grammar are crabbed things to many persons...it is important early to instil a taste for the best things into the minds of children, and I cannot see that anything is learned with greater success than what is learned by playing, and this is, in truth, a very harmless kind of fraud, to trick a person into his own profit."
  • "Indeed, a constant element of enjoyment must be mingled with our studies, so that we think of learning as a game rather than a form of drudgery" --Letter to Christian Northoff
  • "I am a citizen of the world, known to all and to all a stranger."
  • "I am a lover of liberty. I cannot and will not serve parties."
  • "I consider as lovers of books not those who keep their books hidden in their store-chests and never handle them, but those who, by nightly as well as daily use thumb them, batter them, wear them out, who fill out all the margins with annotations of many kinds, and who prefer the marks of a fault they have erased to a neat copy full of faults."
  • "Do not be guilty of possessing a library of learned books while lacking learning yourself." --Letter to Christian Northoff
  • "For what is life but a play in which everyone acts a part until the curtain comes down?" --The Praise of Folly
  • "They say that the AntiChrist will be born of a monk and a nun. If so, there must already be thousands of AntiChrists."
  • "Education is of far greater importance than heredity in forming character."
  • "Whenever you encounter truth, look upon it as Christianity."

 

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