The Praise of Folly

Erasmus was writing to his friend Thomas More when he was traveling from Italy to England. While on the road he decided to write about folly and likened the title to his friend’s name More which was a near word to Moriae meaning folly. Erasmus understood his writing to be mirth and insipid and not many men would approve of it. Erasmus is praising folly but advocating for foolishness by mankind who have the liberty and wits to discern common human errors without offense to their liberty. He likened his works to be ridiculous but not dishonest in any way so that readers would understand and perceive his writing the praise of folly and not mirth out of it. Erasmus writes that people who intend to have children must have recourse to folly because as much it is nature to bring new life, some men act in folly when engaging with a woman but not ready for a wedlock or the consequences of the infants life. A man’s life in pleasures is folly where it results to trouble or unpleasant pleasures in his conduct. The old men have wisdom, experience and sharp judgment to guide the children as they grow from to adults on life’s pleasures. Folly in pleasures keeps the youth alive and old age afar. Folly makes the society to be delightful in laughter in common pleasure of mankind, but deceiving friends in admiration for their virtues like the mistress is the next level of folly. Men flatter themselves in folly or everyone where troubles in pleasures usually find them. The flatters are more foolish than folly. Men should grace others as they do to themselves. A wise man should abstain from public business but give in to study of wisdom and avoid acts of fools and dishonor. Erasmus perceives life to be just like a comedy with wild people, ridiculous, foolish in flattery and pleasures in men, and like one Democritus there is much to laugh at.


Desiderius Erasmus. (1509). “The Praise of Folly”. Retrieved on February 19, 2010 from, http://