Erasmus points out the dangers inherent in monarchies, the risk that such a concentration of power at the apex can behave like a death-portending comet, signalling crashing catastrophe. 

Something in that ‘total’ that makes me think of some possible contemporary parallels.   

In this work of Erasmus, it is Folly who speaks and who shows that we need her more than we think, and that without her life would be unbearable. Further, she argues convincingly that concentrations of power can benefit from fools to avoid bringing total catastrophe upon us.  For more on the hot topic of fools and jesters, see our companion site. 

‘… or like a death-portending comet, he can be the harbinger of total catastrophe.’ 

 

Source: Desiderius Erasmus (1469-1536), Praise of Folly, trans. Roger Clarke (Richmond: Oneworld Classics, 2008 (1511)), p. 85

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