The Praise of Folly

The Praise of Folly Character List


The eponymous narrator of the treatise, Folly is an excellent orator. She is the daughter of Plutus (god of riches) and Neotes (youth) and was nursed by Methe (tipsy) and Apaedia (ninny). She speaks in the manner of a traditional Renaissance humanist, peppering her words with proverbs and classical allusions. Her tone is lighthearted for most of the treatise, but grows stricter when she begins considering the foibles of religious men.


Represents self-love.


A 2nd century rhetorician and satirist who wrote in Greek. Lucian was known as "the scoffer" and "the atheist." Erasmus translated some of his Dialogues and was thus very much influenced by his encomiums.


An ancient Greek epic poet whose poems The Odyssey and The Iliad are considered some of the earliest and best works of literature in the Western canon. Homer's works contain many examples of the foolishness and folly of the gods and mortals.


Represents oblivion.


Represents pleasure.


Represents laziness.


Represents imbecility/madness.


Represents intemperance.


Represents fascination.

Negretos hypnos

Represents sound sleep.


Represents flattery.


The wanton and hedonistic Greek god of revelry and drink, Bacchus represents the triumph of folly. He delights in his happy, lewd foolishness, and his followers are not beset with cares or troubles.


A classical Greek Athenian philosopher; after being accused of impiety by bigots, he was sentenced to death by drinking of poison hemlock. In this text, Socrates is used as an example of one of the philosophers who spent his time dealing in abstracts and lofty concerns, not the things that pertained to the common life of men. However, Socrates decried the label of "wise" and proclaimed that sensible men should stay clear of public business.


A Roman philosopher, statesman, lawyer, political theorist, and orator. He is used by Folly to represent wisdom (although tempered with sensibility and reason) and his writings were tinged with stoicism.


An influential Greek statesman and orator of ancient Athens, Demosthenes is used in this text as an example of a wise writer of antiquity, although not fit to rule a commonwealth.


Represents festivity.