Throughout the work Erasmus references Silenus a Greek figure renowned for his wisdom. As a companion to the wine God Dionysus, or Bacchus to the Romans, Silenus are recognized for appearing unattractive with a broad flat face and a portly belly. In Greek mythology and literature the wisdom of Silenus and his prophetic powers was significant. Erasmus mentions this in his work Adages when he wrote, “But once you have opened out this Silenus, absurd as it is, you find a God rather than a man, a great, lofty and truly philosophic soul, despising all those other things which mortals jostle and steer, sweat and dispute and struggle” (Adages, Erasmus 78). Moreover, this concept of an ugly exterior hiding such beauty, power or wisdom was prominent during the 14th century. A carved box called a Silenus attributes to this concept in which the boxes were depicted as ugly or grotesque outside, much like Silenus. Though, were used to hold sweet perfumes or apothecary’s rare drugs that were rumored to grant supernatural abilities such as eminent understanding, virtue or contentment. This is the idea Erasmus expounds upon in his work Praise of the Folly in this encomium of...
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...not to stray from the church altogether such as Martin Luther had done. As a catholic priest, a critic and a humanist, Erasmus wanted the Church to reconcile while respecting the authority of the Pope. What he accomplishes in his work with Folly is defending his beliefs while discussing the aspects of the Roman Catholic Church he felt needed to be reformed for the better. By using the metaphor of Silenus through the speaker he created, Folly, he is able to address these topics without the reader focusing on himself as much, but his argument more. Folly embodies the metaphor of Silenus as a vehicle that shapes Erasmus’ work in order to speak to the Roman Catholic Church in order to defend his beliefs and discourse the underlying madness with the Church to call for reform. Erasmus says it best, “Even a foolish man sometimes says something to the point” (Erasmus 87).
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