In Praise of Folly

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Genres: Banned Books
Language: English
Type: Digital

In Praise of Folly (Latin: Encomium Moriae) is a satirical essay by Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam, first published in June 1511. It is a light-hearted and witty attack on the follies and vices of human nature, and it has been praised for its humor, its insights into human nature, and its elegant style.

The essay is written in the form of a speech given by Folly herself, who is portrayed as a beautiful and charming goddess. Folly argues that she is the source of all human happiness and that she is responsible for all of the greatest achievements of human civilization. She also criticizes the wisdom of the world, arguing that it is foolish and pointless.

Erasmus's purpose in writing In Praise of Folly was to satirize the abuses of the clergy, the corruption of the Church, and the follies of human nature. He also wanted to promote a more tolerant and understanding view of human nature.

The essay was a bestseller in its day, and it has been translated into many languages. It is still read and enjoyed today, and it is considered to be one of Erasmus's most important works.


In Praise of Folly explores a wide range of themes, including:

  • The nature of folly: Folly is portrayed as a complex and paradoxical figure. She is both beautiful and foolish, wise and ignorant, good and evil. Erasmus argues that folly is an essential part of human nature and that it is the source of both our greatest joys and our greatest sorrows.
  • The abuses of the clergy: Erasmus criticizes the clergy for their hypocrisy, their greed, and their lust for power. He argues that the clergy have become so obsessed with their own power and wealth that they have forgotten their true mission to love and serve God.
  • The corruption of the Church: Erasmus criticizes the Church for its corruption, its abuses of power, and its stifling of intellectual freedom. He argues that the Church has become so corrupt that it is no longer worthy of the name of Christ.
  • The follies of human nature: Erasmus criticizes human nature for its vanity, its pride, and its greed. He argues that humans are so foolish that they are often incapable of seeing their own faults.


In Praise of Folly is a landmark work of literature that has had a profound influence on the development of satire. It was one of the first works of literature to use satire to attack the follies and vices of human nature, and it is considered to be a precursor to the modern satirical novel.

The essay has also been praised for its humor, its insights into human nature, and its elegant style. It is a work that can be enjoyed by readers of all ages, and it continues to be relevant to the world today.


  • "Folly is the source of all human happiness."

  • "The greatest remedy for anger is delay."

  • "The only way to keep your head is to lose it."

  • "It is better to travel well than to arrive."

  • "The man who has traveled the world knows much, but he who has traveled within himself knows all."


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