You would never believe what sport and entertainment your mortal manikins provide daily for the gods. These gods, you know, set aside their sober forenoon hours for composing quarrels and giving ear to prayers. But after that, when they are well moistened with nectar and have no desire for the transaction of business, they seek out some promontory of heaven and, sitting there with faces bent downward, they watch what mortal men are adoring. There is no show like it. Good God, what a theater! How various the action of fools! (I may say that now and then I take a seat alongside the gods of the poets.)
— “The Run of Fools,” In Praise of Folly
Desiderius Erasmus (1466–1536) was the quintessential “Renaissance man” — a Catholic priest, a humanist, and a theologian who traveled extensively, was an expert in classical languages and history and wrote fluently in Latin. While he remained a Catholic all his life, during the Reformation he had vitriol enough to offend both sides of the crisis that split Christendom asunder. Among his closest friends were St. Thomas More — to whom he dedicated In Praise of Folly.