Fools praising fools and dunces praising dunces

From Erasmus’ Praise of Folly/Encomium Moriae (section 50), Folly speaking:

The daintiest thing is when they compliment each other, turn about, in an exchange of letters, verses, and puffs; fools praising fools and dunces praising dunces. The first, in the opinion of the second, is an Alcaeus; the second, in the opinion of the first, is a Callimachus. One puts another far above Cicero; the other then finds the one more learned than Plato. Or sometimes they will pick out a competitor and increase their reputation through rivalry with him. As a result, the doubtful public is split into opposing camps, until, when the battle is well over, each leaves the field as victor and each has a triumphal parade. Wise men deride all this as most foolish, as indeed it is. Who denies it? But meanwhile, by my boon our authors lead a sweet life, nor would they exchange their triumphs for those of the Scipios. And while the scholars indeed have a great deal of fun laughing at them, and savor to the full the madnesses of others, they themselves owe a good deal to me, which they cannot disavow without being the most ungrateful of men.


Illud autem lepidissimum, cum mutuis epistolis, carminibus, encomiis sese vicissim laudant, stulti stultos, indoctos indocti. Hic illius suffragio discedit Alceus, ille huius Callimachus: ile huic est M. Tullio superior, hic illi Platone doctior. Nonnumquam etiam antagonistam quaerunt, cuius aemulatione famam augeant. Hic scinditur incertum studia in contraria vulgus, donec uterque dux re bene gesta victor discedit, uterque triumphum agit. Rident haec sapientes, ut, veluti sunt, stultissima. Quis enim negat? Sed interim meo beneficio suavem vitam agunt, ne cum Scipionibus quidem suos triumphos commutari. Quamquam docti quoque interim dum haec magna cum animi voluptate rident, et aliena fruuntur insania, non paulum mihi debent et ipsi, quod inficari possunt, nisi sint omnium ingratissimi.

It is possibly uncharitable but all I see here is the carousel of reviewers and this year’s ‘revolutionary new voices.’

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