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1 In the Beginning there was Chaos

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Chapter Summary

The edition of Erasmus' Adages which Muret inspected with such a critical eye in his Variae lectiones was supervised by his close friend and correspondent, Paolo Manuzio. Though unappealing to Muret, chaos held an undeniable allure for Renaissance humanists and retailers of commonplace knowledge. In 1529, Joachim Fortius Ringelberg, a Flemish scholar and passing acquaintance of Erasmus though not one of his countless correspondents, published a little scientific miscellany entitled, simply, Chaos. Reissued with his Opera in 1531, this curious compilation opens with a dedicatory epistle to Pieter Gillis or Petrus Aegidius in which the author attempts a defense of chaos. To exemplify his notion of sylva, Angelo Poliziano cites a few instances of how the term is used by classical authors including Marcus Varro, Quintilian, and a paradigmatic instance from Suetonius' Lives of the Grammarians which bears heavily on the tendencies of humanist erudition.

Keywords: Angelo Poliziano; chaos; Erasmus' Adages; Joachim Fortius Ringelberg; Paolo Manuzio; renaissance humanists



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