This week, Rotterdam commemorates its most famous citizen ever – Desiderius Erasmus. EM was interested to know how much students actually know about Erasmus, because this week his birthday, his lasting legacy, as well as 500 year anniversary of his book Praise of Folly, are all being celebrated.

The poll of 100 Dutch and international students reveals quite surprising results. Out of all international students surveyed, 1 percent think that he was the designer of the Erasmus Bridge, and 15 percent state that his name was Darius, instead of Desiderius.

However, 69 percent were right in noting that Desiderius Erasmus was a great philosopher. In fact, he was one of the greatest humanists back in the day. A Catholic priest, a theologian, and a writer, he was quite a busy man.

Erasmus’ birthday

Furthermore, three quarters of students sense that it’s his birthday this week and 18 percent guess that it’s his books anniversary. Indeed, the old man’s 545th assumed birthday falls on the 28th of October as well as the Praise of Folly was first printed 500 years ago.

While 23 percent were lead to believe that it was a book about ‘madness’ and 20 percent think it is a religious book, nearly half guessed right that it is a piece of satire. There was no difference in the results of the Dutch and the international respondents.

Lectures and Readings

Since the Erasmus university students seem to know little about Erasmus himself, they can be sure that a lecture by prof. Hans Trapman on Friday, the 28th will fill in the missing gaps. Reading of Praise of Folly, ‘a 500 year bestseller’, will take place, as well as other events organized by the municipality (including birthday cake!) which will keep every history and Erasmus legacy devotee interested and occupied. MD