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Accumulatio, Natural History, and Erasmus’s Copia

Accumulatio, Natural History, and Erasmus’s Copia

Chapter:
(p.133) Chapter 6 Accumulatio, Natural History, and Erasmus’s Copia
Source:
Rhetoric in Tooth and Claw
Author(s):
Debra Hawhee
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226398204.003.0007

This chapter serves as a conclusive capstone to the book with a focus on animals in the writings of the famed humanist and teacher of rhetoric, Desiderius Erasmus (1456-1536). In de Copia, Erasmus’s wildly popular manual for developing an abundant style, Erasmus explicitly recommends consulting the works of natural science and committing the facts there to memory in order to create a storehouse, and accumulation of things from which one can draw comparisons, narratives, proverbs, and the like. In keeping with his age, Erasmus’s regard for Pliny the Elder, the ancient (Roman) author of Natural History, makes for marked continuity with findings earlier in this book. Erasmus promotes a “collected memory,” the contours and implications of which can best be seen by focusing on animals as collectibles in the context of print culture.

Keywords:   Desiderius Erasmus, Pliny, natural history, natural science, accumulation, de Copia, collected memory

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