More’s Utopia, Erasmian Humanism, and Greek & Roman Beliefs Essay

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Much can be learned about England in the sixteenth-century from More’s Utopia both from the book itself and as a result of the circumstances of the time that influenced his writing of it. There is a great debate over More’s actual opinions, as More is a character in the book as well. It is not known wether More (the character) was supposed to represent More, himself, or if More’s opinions were more along the lines of Hythloday’s. There is a view that employs the knowledge of the Erasmian humanist movement to interpret Utopia as a work that illustrates the conflict between the Roman ideals of sixteenth-century England and the Greek ideals that were launched off the back of the Italian Renaissance.
The Erasimian Humanist movement (also
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England in the sixteenth-century can be seen to be a clash of ideals in various topics as Greek and Roman though opposed each other on many topics. The time in which Utopia was being written (around 1514-1520) was also the time in which the Erasmian circle were promoting Greek culture stronger than ever. During this period, Erasmus used the Greek New Testament in order to correct the Vulgate. The Vulgate was the Latin version of the Bible which was written mainly by St. Jerome in the late 4th century. It was later revised in 1592 and adopted as the official text for the Roman Catholic Church. More, and others in Erasmus’s circle were called upon to defend Erasmus’s correction (Nelson 889).
A letter from More to the University of Oxford in 1518 demonstrates how Greek versus Roman popped up in universities. In this letter, More describe how a group of students formed, called themselves “Trojans” and proceeded to openly oppose and mock the Greek students, who they viewed as heretics, calling the lecturers ‘archdevils’ and the students (rather wittingly) ‘underdevils.’ The Erasmian humanists actually enjoyed the scholarly criticism. The main opponent of Erasmus was one Maarten van Dorp. In a letter to van Dorp, Erasmus announces that “without Greek, the study of the liberal arts is lame and blind.” One of Eramus’s defenders, by the name of Richard Pace, wrote a treatise “On the benefit of a liberal education.” In this treatise were the lines that became the

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