Folly's specious arguments are ironic inversions of perfectly serious humanist contentions, and there is a strong element of self-parody running through Erasmus's text. The idea that non-physical evils do harm only in so far as one is conscious of them, for instance, is a caricature of the stoic view that, while there are legitimate affective reactions to present goods, future goods and future evils, there is no rational affective reaction to present evils, which exist only in the imagination. There is no rational grief as nothing which happens externally is a source of grief for the sage.
Erasmus himself, strongly committed with all the humanists to a belief in man's power of autonomous self-determination, develops the view with which Epictetus' Manual opens, that our true good is in our power. It follows that all those things we cannot change, the fortuitous events of the external world, cannot constitute true goods or true evils. In the evangelical humanists generally, and particularly in Erasmus, Budé and Rabelais, the stoic principles of Epictetus were developed in the interest of supporting man's power of self-determination. As a result the common medieval idea of contempt for adversity is given a new significance. Erasmus wrote to Marguerite de Valois, soon to be Queen of Navarre, after the disastrous battle of Pavia in 1525, to congratulate her on her contempt for adversity, and this is the quality which defines Pantagrnelism in the prologue to Rabelais' quart livre. In 1521 Budé published his three books de contemptu rerum fortuitarum and Erasmus's own early de contemptu mundi was published in the same year and republished in the 1529 edition of his great work on education de pueris instituendis.
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