Adagiorum D. Erasmi Roterodami Epitome

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by Desiderius Erasmus

Desiderius Erasmus (c. 1467-1536) was a scholar, writer, and humanist who contributed valuable religious translations and writings to sixteenth century thinkers. Erasmus studied at a number of schools throughout his life, including those at the church of St. John of Gouda, St. Lebuin in Deventer, Hertogenbosch, Cambridge, as well as schools in Paris. The scholar joined the Roman Catholic Church as a monk near the age of twenty. Erasmus continually traveled, studied, and wrote during his monastic years, gaining notice for his translation of the New Testament and opposition to Martin Luther.[1] Erasmus, similar to Luther, spoke out regarding the failings of the church and encouraged reform. Erasmus particularly deplored the “religious warfare” of the time and the cultural decline it produced within the church.[2] During the Reformation period, both the Protestants and Roman Catholics used Erasmus’ writings in support or disapproval of church doctrine. Erasmus never sided with either religious group, but was very influential on both sides.[3] Erasmus remained a part of the Roman Catholic Church until his death.

Erasmus began collecting Greek adages and first published them in 1500 as Adagiorum Collectanea. This short work of 818 adages formed the basis for Adagiorum Chiliades, first published in 1508 with 3,260 adages. Successive editions continued to embellish the work. The edition published in 1536, the year of Erasmus' death, included 4,151 adages.[4] In a recent English translation, the editor praises

the Agages [as] an extraordinary work of Renaissance erudition. Into this vast compilation Erasmus gathers Greek and Latin sources for thousands of proverbs such as "To have one foot in the grave", "To be in the same boat", or "To put the cart before the horse". He often analyses how these proverbs might be used in a good Latin style. Most entries are quite short. Now and then, though, he expands his commentary beyond the merely philological, and writes lengthy and elaborately crated essays on morality and religion.[5]

Bibliographic Information

Author: Desiderius Erasmus.

Title: Adagiorum D. Erasmi Roterodami Epitome.

Published: Amstelodami: Ex officina Elzeviriana, Sumptibus Societatis, 1663.


Evidence for Inclusion in Wythe's Library

Description of the Wolf Law Library's copy

Bound in full brown calf with tooled border lines on the front and back covers. Three raised bands to the spine with tooled surround lines and red speckled pages. The title page is printed in red and black with a woodcut device of a woman and an owl under a tree. Purchased from Abe Books.

External Links

Google Books


  1. James McConica, “Erasmus, Desiderius” in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004- ), accessed Sept. 30, 2013. (Subscription required for access.)
  2. “Erasmus” in Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th Edition (Columbia University Press, 2013- ), accessed Sept. 27, 2013.
  3. Robert M. Thorton, “Erasmus,” Modern Age 47, no. 4, (2005): 367.
  4. James McConica, “Erasmus, Desiderius.”
  5. Desiderius Erasmus, The Agages of Erasmus, ed. William Barker (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2001), [ix].