Desiderius Erasmus.

A Very Pleasaunt & Fruitful Diologe Called the Epicure online

. (page 1 of 3)
Online LibraryDesiderius ErasmusA Very Pleasaunt & Fruitful Diologe Called the Epicure → online text (page 1 of 3)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

Produced by David Starner, Louise Hope and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at

[Transcriber's note:

The printed text marks the first few leaves of each 16-page
signature: ||A.i.||, ||A.ii.||... Other page breaks are marked in
this e-text with double lines ||

A few apparent typographic errors were corrected and are listed at
the end of the text. Other irregularities are noted but were left
unchanged. All other spelling, capitalization and punctuation are
as in the original.]

* * * * *
* * * *
* * * * *

ry pleasaunt &
fruitful Dio-
loge called the
made by that fa-
mous clerke Eras
mus of Rotero-
dame, newly

* * * * *

_S. Paule to the Ephesians_

You that haue professed Christ,
suffre not your selues to be deceyued
vvith false doctrine, nor vaine
and noughtie talkyng, but herken
vnto all Godly thynges, and
especially too the doctryne
of the Gospell.


daunt mercie and grace of our
heauenly father Iesu Christ,
maye alwaies strengthen
and defende oure noble
& vertuous Prynce Ed-
ward too the mainte-
naunce of the liue-
ly woord of

Whereas manye histories of olde & auncient antiquitie,
and also al godly & Christiã writers most playnely consêt
together, and agree in this, that dignitie, riches, kinred,
worldly pompe, and renoume, doo neither make men better, ne
yet happiar, contrarie too the blynde & fonde iudgement of
the most part of menne: but by the power and strength of the
mynde, that is, learnyng, wysedome, || and vertue, all menne
are hyghly enriched, ornated, & most purely beutified, for
these bee thinges bothe notable, eternall, and verye
familiar betwene the heauenly father & vs. It is therefore
euidente (most excellent Prince) that the fittest ornamêtes
for your graces tender age, bee, eruditiõ and vertue.
Wherunto you are bothe so ernestly addicte and therin so
wõderfully doo preuaile, that I nede not too exhorte &
exstimulate your grace vnto the study thereof. For that God
him self hath wrought, and fourmed your mynde so apt and
desirous too attayne and diligêtly too seeke for al godly
doctrine, that euê now you doo shewe in all youre saiynges
and dooinges suche a wonderfull pleasaûtes much lyke vnto
a certayne swete musike or harmonie, that any honest hart
exceadinglye woulde reioyce in the sight therof. Verely,
your grace thinketh plainly all time lost, that is not
bestowed vpon learnyng, which is a verie rare thyng in anye
childe, and rarest of all in a Prince. Thus youre noblenes,
rather desireth vertue and ||A.iii.|| learning the most
surest and excellent treasures, which farre surmounte all
worldly ryches, then anye vanities or trifles. Nowe youre
grace prepareth for the holsome and pleasaunt foode of
the mynde. Now you seke for that whiche you shal fynd
most surest helper and faythfulst councellour in all your
affaires. Now your magnificêt mynde studieth that, whiche
all Englyshe menne with meke and humile heartes shuld desire
GOD to endue your grace with all. Now with diligent labour
you searche for a thyng, as one most myndeful of this
saiyng: Happy is that realme that hath a lerned Prince. Nowe
you trauaile for that, whiche conquereth, and kepeth doune
all greuous tourmentes & outragious affections of the mynde,
too the furderaunce of good liuyng, and maintenaûce of
vertue, I meane holsome erudition and learnyng. Many
Heathen Princes forsoth, are highly magnified with most
ample prayses, which gaue them selues too the study of
Philosophie, or knowledge of tongues, for their owne
commoditie, and || especially for the weale of their
subiectes. Who is nowe more celebrated and worthelier
extolled then Mithridates? that noble kyng of Pont and
Bithinia, which, (as Aulus Gellius writeth) vnderstoode so
perfitly the languages of .xxii. sondrye countries that were
vnder his dominiõ, that he neuer vsed any interpretour too
answer his subiectes, but spake their lãguages so finelye,
as thoughe he had been of the same coûtrie. Ageyn, that
honorable manne Quintus Ennius saied: that he had .iii.
heartes, because he coulde speake Greke, Italian, and Latin.
Yea, and breuely, the most famaus writers, as well the
Heathen, as the Christien, with an vniuersall consent,
playnly affirme: Whan thei had weied the nature and condiciõ
of the purest thinges vnder heauen, thei sawe nothyng faire,
or of any pryce, or that ought too be accõpted ours, but
onely vertue and learning. Euen now too acknowledge that
same, it is yeouê you from aboue, for your grace delecteth
in nothyng more then too bee occupied in the holye Byble:
wherin, ||A.iiii.|| you beginne too sauer & smelle furth
the treasure of wisedome, knowledge and fulnes of the deuyne
power, that is a studie most conuenient for euery Christien
Prince, that kynd of studye cannot haue sufficient laude
and commendation. Whose Princely heart forsoth, is raueshed
on suche a godlie and vertuous studie, it can neuer haue
condigne and worthie praises, but deserueth alwaies too bee
had in great price, estimation, and honour. Who dooeth not
know? that Prince which is yeouen vnto the scriptures of God
and with a stoute stomake and valiãt heart, both searcheth
furth and also defendeth ye true doctrine of the Gospell,
too bee inrolled in the assemble of Christ. Who dooeth not
see? that Prince too bee moost surelye armed, which carieth
in his heart the swerd of ye spirit, which is the blessed
woord of God. Who is ignoraunt? that euer lastyng lyfe
consisteth in the knoweledge of God. What Prince woulde not
studie to maintaine that, which is written for the health,
and saluation of all menne weiyuge with himselfe || that a
Prince can not deserue, neither by conquest, ciuel policie,
nor yet by anye other meane vnder heauen, thys name high or
honorable, so wourthely as by the setting forward of Goddes
woorde. What young Prince humily defendyng doune intoo him
selfe and callyng to memory his bounden dutie woulde not
with a glad hearte and a chearfull mynde, gredelye desyre
too knowe, enlarge, and amplifie the glory and maiestie
of hys derely beloued father? Your grace (forsoth) hath
professed God too bee your father: Blessed are you then if
you obey vnto hys word, and walke in his waies. Blessed are
you, yf you supporte suche as preache the Gospell. Blessed
are you, yf your mind bee full furnished with the testament
of Christ, and shew your selfe too bee the most cruel
too and enemy agaynst ypocrisie, supersticion, and all
papistical phantasies, wherwith the true religion of God
hathe been dusked and defaced these many yeres Blessed are
you, if you reade it daye & nighte, that your grace maye
knowe what GOD dooeth forbyd you, and ||A.v.|| euer submit
your selfe therunto with seruiceable lowlines chiefly
desiring to florysh and decke your mynd with godly
knowledge. And most blessed are you, if you apply your
self vnto al good workes, & plant surely in your heart the
scriptures of Christ, If you thus doo, nether the power of
any papistical realme, nor yet of hel can preuaile at any
time against your grace. Nowe therfore, with humile hearte,
faithfully receiue the swete promises of the Gospel. If
you kepe the woordes of the Lorde and cleaue fast vnto
them: there is promised you the kingdome of heauen: You
are promised a weale publick most riche and welthy You are
promised too bee deliuered from the deceiptes of all youre
priuie enemyes. You are promised also, too conquere great
and mightie nations. Agayne, let your grace bee most fully
perswaded in this, that ther was neuer Kyng nor Prince, that
prospered whiche tooke parte against Goddes woord, and that
the greatest abhomination that can bee, either for Kyng,
Prince, or any other manne, is too || forsake the true woord
of God. O with howe rebukefull woordes & greuous iudgement
thei be condemned, which dispice & set lytle by the holy
Byble & most blessed Testamêt of God, wherin there is
contained all the wil & pleasure of our heauêly father
toward vs most miserable & ignoraunt wretches Who would not
quake, too beholde the terrible feares & threatenynges of
God ageinst al suche? Who would not lament & gladly helppe
their obstinate blyndenes? Who woulde not weepe? to heare
and reade in how many places, they be openly accursed by the
scriptures of Christ. God him self playnely affirmeth, that
he wyll sodênly consume them with the breath of his anger.
Yea, besides that whoso euer declyneth from the word of
God is accursed in all his doynges, whether he be Kyng, or
Prynce, riche, or poore, or of what estate soeuer he bee.
This fearfull saiyng (most excellent Prynce) shulde moue all
men to take hede vnto their duties and to praie that gods
word maie take place emõgist vs. O that al men would
||fantasie the scriptures of God, and saye with the vertuous
man Iob. Wee will not bee ageynst the woordes of the holy
one. Truth it is, God taketh diligent care too haue vs al
know his woord. Woulde God therfore, that all wee were now
willing to haue the syncere woorde of God & all holsom
doctrine too go forward. O that all we would consent
togither in the Gospell, brotherly admonishyng, and
secretelye prouokyng one an other too true religion
& vertue. O that no man would sow emongist the people
pernitious doctryne, but with all lowly diligêce and Godlye
monition euer prouoke, tempt, and stere them, tyll their
heartes were remoued frõ their olde dautyng dreames and
supersticiõ, which haue been long grafted in them thorow
popyshe doctrine. By this meane wee shuld euer haue concorde
emongist vs, whiche in all thynges is necessary, but most
nedefull and expedient in Gods holi woord. Now truely the
godlyest thynge that can bee deuysed, for any christian
realme, is to haue emongist them one maner and || fourme
of doctryne, & too trace trueli the steppes of God and
neuer to seeke any other bywayes. Who hath not redde in ye
scriptures? but that realme is endued with godly ornamentes
& riches, where all men prospere, go for ward and florishe
in gods woord, delectyng day and night in the swete
cõsolations of the holy testament. By this way we shuld
especially set forth the glory of God, and of our sauiour
Iesu Christ, if we would reuerently shew one an other that
whiche God hath taught vs. Yea & in this doyng all men
shulde well perceaue that we were the true disciples of
Christ, being knitte and coupled fast together in mynde
and iudgement, preachyng God with one mouth and also with
one assent euer promotyng his gloryous testament. O the
good happe and grace of that king or prynce emongist whose
subiectes there is such an hole consent and iudgement in the
woord of God, for that most assuredly byndeth & adiuigneth
ye hartes of al subiectes too their kyng. The strength of
the Gospell is euen suche in this puincte, || that there was
neuer man, which did humily receaue it, that would murmour
ageynst his Prince. It teacheth how wyllyngly all men shulde
obey their kyng. It sheweth verye lyuely and most apertly
vnto euery man his ful dutie. It euer prouoketh vs from all
wicked, cursed, and most obstinate disobedience. It euer
instructeth men too shewe them selues most lowly, humile,
and obesaunt toward their Prynce. Whosoeuer hath tasted
fully therof, will declare hym selfe in al thynges, too
bee a faithful subiect. Furthermore, it is clearer then the
light (most vertuous prince) that it woulde make muche for
the weale of this noble realme, yf all mê with heart and
mynde, would nowe as well expulse the pernitious and
deuelyshe doctryne af that Romishe bishop, as his name is
blotted î bookes. There is none so ignoraunt, but he knoweth
that, thorough hym we were brought into a wõderful blindnes,
thorough hym we did sauer of nothyng, but of stynkyng
Ydolatry, through hym we were deceiued with || false
Ypocrisie. Now let euery blind stiffe hearted, and obstinate
creature compare his abhomination with the gospell, and
if he be not shameles, he will abashe to smell of his
papistrie, and to walow still in ignoraunce, vn lest he bee
priuely confederate and in heart consent with the detestable
felowship of al wicked papistes. Now would God all suche men
would reduce ageyn their heartes vnto ye gospell of Christ,
would god they would bee prouoked by some meane to desire
knowledge. O that god woulde yeoue them a couragious mynde
too reade the gospel, there they shal sone fynde all the
venoume of the romishe sort most playnely detected. Forsoth
wee see dayly, that lacke of knowledge of the gospel maketh
some busserdes runne hedlong on all rockes, daungers, &
extreme perilles: yea, and beside that, olde popysh doctryne
whiche lyeth folded vp & locked faste in their heartes,
doeth so sore blynd thê that they haue neither fauour ne
affectiõ too printe in their myndes, the expressed coûcels,
admonitions, and || preceptes of the holy scripture, but
too slepe stil in their owne conceites, dreames, & fonde
phansies. Wherfore let your dignitie note well this, that
all those whiche bee not wyllyng that gods woord should bee
knowen, and that blyndenes should be clean expulsed from
all men, whiche be baptised in ye blessed bludde of Christ,
bewray themselues playne papistes: for in very deede that
most deceatful wolfe and graund maister papist with his
totiens quotiens, and a pena et culpa blesseth all suche
as will bee blynde stil, maintaine his põpe, drinke of
his cuppe of fornication, trust in his pardounes, liue
in popery, ypocrisie, and dãnable ydolatrie, shut vp the
kingdome of heauen, & neuer regarde the gospel. Cõtrarie too
this, christ bi his holy Prophete calleth al those blessed
that seke for his testimonies, al those his elect & chosê
childrê, which turne frõ synne, ypocrisie, & ydolatrie, all
those goddes that heare his word, yea, & breuely, al those
which set it forward honorable mê. & in this puincte your
grace shoulde euer beare in mynde, || that noble and
vertuous kyng Hezekiah, whiche shewed hymselfe very
honorable in settîg forward ye woord of God, and therby
gotte hym glory and fame immortall, so that nowe he is most
highly praysed amongtst all men. Ageyn his subiectes dyd
obey his commaundement feynedly with Ypocrisie, but in their
heartes they abhorred gods woord. O the miserie that dyd
afterwarde sodeinly ensue vpon them, O the wonderfull
wrath of God that was poured vpon them, O their great and
obstinate blindnes whiche caused them most greuously too
be scourged: Their plage was no lesse then too bee vtterly
spoyled of their enemies, Their plage was no lesse then to
eate one an other: Yea, their plage was no lesse then to
eate their owne sonnes and doughters. This calamitie and
sorow (most noble prynce) happened them because they dyd
not regarde the lawes of God, but tourned too their olde
abhominable Ydolatrie, and lightelye estemed gods holy
woord. Wherfore euen now whosoeuer is an enemie ||B.i.|| to
the holy Bible, that is, neither studiyng it himselfe, nor
willyng that other men shulde knowe it, he can in no wyse be
a right christian man: although he fast, pray, doo almes,
& all the good workes vnder heauen. And he that hath suche a
mynde, is ye most cursed and cruel enemie too god, a playne
sower of sedition, and a deuelishe disquieter of all godly
men. For truly those that reade the gospel of Christ, and
labour diligêtly therin: doo fynde wonderfull rest &
quietnes, from all woofull miserie, perturbatiõ, and
vanities of this world. And surely none but ypocrites or els
deuilles would go about too stoppe or allure men from suche
a treasure and godly study. And it were conuenient, that all
they whiche wyll remayne styll necligent, styffe, & blind:
shuld set before their faces the feare of paynes infernall,
and if thei haue any grace at all, their spirites ought to
be moued: too note the great plages that haue happened the
slouthful in gods woord, & those that haue been stubburne
ageynst the settyng || out of it. There bee a thousand
recordes and examples in the holy Bible agaynst such as be
farre wyde from knowledge, and lye now walteryng styl in
ignoraunce and will not looke vpon the bible. It woulde
seme, they hope for a thyng, but their hope is in vaine:
For saint Paule plainely writeth the hope of suche ypocrites
shall coo[~m] too nought. And too conclude (most honorable
Prince) seeyng wee haue suche knowledge opened vnto vs, as
neuer had englishe mê, and are clearly deliuered from the
snares and deceiptes of al false and wicked doctrine, if we
shuld not now thãkefully receaue the gospell, and shewe our
selues naturally enclyned to set it forwarde, yea, and pray
daye and night vnto God, for the preseruatiõ and health of
the kynges highnes, your graces deare, and most entierly
beloued father, we were neither true subiectes nor ryght
christen men. Forsoth, through the absolute wisedome, and
the most godly and politike prudencie of his grace, the
swete sounde of gods woorde is gone ||B.ii.|| thorough out
all this realme, the holye Bible and blessed testament of
oure sauiour Christ are coo[~m]ne to lighte, and thousandes
haue faithfully receiued those pleasaunt, ioyfull, and most
comfortable promises of God. Surely this thyng before all
other, is acceptable too god. This thyng especially swageth
ye ire of god. This thyng in all holi scriptures god most
chiefly requireth of his elect & faithfull seruaûtes, euen
too haue his lytell flocke knowe his blessed woorde, whiche
woulde bee muche better knowê & more thankefulli receaued,
yf al agees and degrees of men with one mynd, wyll, & voice,
would nowe drawe after one lyne, leauyng their owne priuate
affections, and shewe theim selues euer vigilant, prompt,
& ready helpers & workers with God, (accordynge to
the councell of sainct Paule) & especially priestes,
scolemaisters & parêtes, which accordyng too ye Prophete
Dauid are blessed, if they gladly requite ye lawe of God.
They shuld therfore reade ye bible & purdge theyr mindes of
al papistry: for theyr || necligence, in dooyng their duties
& slugishnes toward ye blessed woord of god, dooeth too
muche appere. Through them forsoth the gospel of Christ
shuld bee most strongely warded and defended, for almost
all the Prophetes, and a great parte of the scripture beside
teache them their duties, and shew playnely what maner of
men they shulde bee: Yea, and how greuously the holy
Prophetes crie out vpon false and ignoraunt priestes, the
thyng is very euident. But through the helppe of God all
those that be ignoraunt, or els learned (as they take them
selues) wyll leaue of, and repent them of their wicked and
obstinate blyndnes, and bowe them selues with all
oportunitie too draw mens heartes too the holy testament
of God: consideryng, that in the terrible day of iudgement,
euery mã shall yeoue accompte of his Beliwicke, where
neither ignoraûce shall excuse vs, ne yet any worldly põpe
may defêd vs. Most happye thê shall they bee, whiche haue
walked iustely in the sight of the Lorde, and ||B.iii.||
that haue syncerely preached his testament and lyuely woord
withoute flattery or iuggelyng: Yea, and in that fearful
day, all they (as writeth S. Augustine) shal fynde mercie
at the handes of god, whiche haue entised and allured other
vnto goodnes and vertue. Weiyng this with my self, (most
excellent, and vnto all kynd of vertues most prõpt & prestãt
Prince) I thought it good too translate this Dialoge, called
the Epicure, for your grace: whiche semed too me, too bee
very familiar, & one of ye godliest Dialoges that any mã
hath writtê in ye latin tong. Now therfore I most humili
praie, that this my rude & simple trãslation may bee
acceptable vnto your grace, trustyng also that your most
approued gentilnes, wil take it in good part. There as I
doo not folow ye latyn, woord for woord, for I omytte that
of a certaine set purpose.

_Your humile seruaunt, Philyppe_
Gerrard, groume of your
graces Chambre.

* * * * *

The interlocutours


What meaneth hit _Spudeus_, too applye hys booke so
ernestlye I praye you what is the matter you murmour so with
yourselfe? _SPVDEVS._ The truth is (O _Hedoni_) I seke too
haue knowledge of a thing, but as yet I cannot fynde that
whych maketh for my purpose. _HEDO_ What booke haue you
there in your bosome? _SPVDE. Ciceros_ ||dialoge of the
endes of goodnes. _HEDO._ It had bene farre more better for
you, too haue sought for the begynnynges of godly thynges,
then the endes. _SPVDE._ Yea, but _Marcus Tullius_ nameth
that the ende of godlines which is an exquisite, a far
passing, and a very absolute goodnes in euerye puincte,
wherein there is contained all kynde of vertu: vnto the
knowledge ther of whosoeuer can attaine, shuld desire none
other thîg, but hold himselfe hauyng onely that, as one most
fully content and satisfied. _HED._ That is a worke of very
great learning and eloquence. But doo you thynke, that you
haue preuailed in any thîg there, whereby you haue the
||rather come too the knowledge of the truth? _SPE._ I
haue had such fruite and cõmoditie by it, that now verelye
hereafter I shall doubt more of the effect and endes of good
thinges, then I did before. _HEDO._ It is for husbãd menne
too stande in doubt how farre the limittes and merebãkes
extend. _SPE._ And I cannot but muse styll, yea, and wonder
very muche, why ther hath been so great controuersie in
iudgementes vpon so weightie a matter (as this is) emongist
so well learned menne: especially suche as bee most famous
and auncient writers. _HEDO._ This was euen the cause, where
the verite of a thyng is playne and manifest, cõtrarily, ye
errour through || ignoraunce againe in the same, is soone
great & by diuers meanes encreaseth, for that thei knewe not
the foundation and first beginnyng of the whole matter, they
doo iudge at all auentures and are very fondly disceaued,
but whose sentence thynke you too bee truest? _SPE._ Whan
I heare _MARCVS Tullius_ reproue the thyng, I then fãtasie
none of all their iudgementes, and whan I heare hym agayne
defende the cause: it maketh me more doubtfull thê euer I
was and am in suche a studie, that I can say nothyng. But
as I suppose ye Stoickes haue erred the lest, and nexte vnto
thê I commend the _Peripatetickes_. _HEDo._ Yet I lyke none
of their opinions || so well as I doo the Epicures. _SPV._
And emõgist all the sectes: the _Epicures_ iudgement is most
reproued and condemned with the whole consent and arbitremêt
of all menne. _HED._ Let vs laye a side all disdayne and
spite of names, and admitte the Epicure too bee suche one,
as euery man maketh of hym. Let vs ponder and weighe the
thyng as it is in very deed. He setteth the high and
principall felicitie of man in pleasure, and thiketh that
lyfe most pure and godly, whiche may haue greate delectatiõ
and pleasure, and lytle pensiuenes. _SPV._ It is euen so.
_HED._ What more vertuouser thyng, I praye you, is possible
too bee spokê then this || saiyng. _Spu._ Yea, but all menne
wonder and crye out on it, and saye: it is the voyce of a
bruite beast, and not of manne. _Hedo._ I knowe thei doo so,
but thei erre in ye vocables of theise thinges, and are very
ignoraunt of the true and natiue significations of the
woordes, for if wee speake of perfecte thynges, no kinde of
menne bee more righter _Epicures_, then Christen men liuing
reuerêtly towardes God and mã, and in the right seruice and
worshiping of Christ. _SPV_ But I thinke the _Epicures_ bee
more nerer and agree rather with the _Cynickes_, then with
the Christien sorte: forsoth ye Christiens make them selues
leane || with fastynge, bewayle and lament their offences,
and eyther they bee nowe poore, or elles theyr charitie and
liberalitie on the nedye maketh theim poore, thei suffer
paciently to bee oppressed of mêne that haue great power and
take many wronges at their handes, and many men also laughe
theim too skorne. Nowe, if pleasure brynge felicitie wyth
it, or helpe in anye wyse vnto the furderaunce of vertue:

1 3

Online LibraryDesiderius ErasmusA Very Pleasaunt & Fruitful Diologe Called the Epicure → online text (page 1 of 3)