Treasures of the Library : De discrimine adulatorio et amici

Plutarch

Treasures of the Library

<p style='text-align: justify;'> In 1513, while he was at Cambridge, Erasmus dedicated to Henry VIII his translation from Greek into Latin of Plutarch's <i>De discrimine adulatoris et amici</i> (How to tell a flatterer from a friend). Written by a professional scribe, this manuscript is almost certainly a presentation copy. It lacks illumination, but stubs suggest that there may originally have been a leaf containing the royal arms and another with a decorated title page (see Clough, 199-202 and references there, especially Garrod, 1-13). In the <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(11);return false;'>dedicatory letter</a> Erasmus expressed his hope that the treatise would be useful to the King and it is likely he was trying to warn Henry against following the advice of flattering councillors who had advocated the war against France. Prudently, since he was writing to a patron, he also observed that the art of admonishing friends requires tact as well as devotion 'in case we undermine friendship itself even while we clumsily try to cure our friend's fault'. Henry apparently at first forgot about the gift but later on paid Erasmus sixty angels as a reward.<br /> <br /> The dedication is Ep. 272 in Allen, I, 529-30, where it is by inference dated from Cambridge, July 1513. Henry was at war in France at the time of the presentation in 1513; Erasmus therefore made a second attempt in 1517 and sent the king a copy of several of his printed works, to be identified with the Charlecote Park volume (see Clough p 199, 201 esp. note 17). On <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(14);return false;'>4v</a> a number of moral maxims have been copied in a 16th century humanist hand. Folios 1 and 2, now missing, once formed part of the same quire as <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(5);return false;'>ii-iv</a> and <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(11);return false;'>3</a>; <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(5);return false;'>ii(r)</a> has ownership inscriptions; <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(6);return false;'>ii(v)-iv(v)</a> are blank except for some 18th century notes pasted onto <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(7);return false;'>iii(r)</a> (see below). Folio <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(125);return false;'>60r</a> is blank; <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(126);return false;'>60v</a> was originally blank, now covered with 16th century scribbles.<br /> <br /> Of the flyleaves, <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(3);return false;'>i</a> is a stub with 16th/17th century scribbles on the verso; at the end, <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(127);return false;'>v</a> is a leaf re-used as a pastedown (and now raised) from a work on logic in a small 18th century hand, written in double columns of 53 lines with red paragraph marks.</p>

 


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