Erasmus' Criteria For Love

Erasmus openly declared his love for many men, and he just as openly stated the criteria upon which he based these declarations. I’ll let him speak for himself:

To Cornelis Gerard: “he deserves not only your esteem but also, in the fullest measure, your love: partly because of the exceptionally distinguished scholarship he commands, for a young man, and partly because of the intense affection which he has chosen to bestow on you.”

Willem Hermans to Jacob Batt: “...your eminence in scholarship stands high in my sight, wins my warm devotion, and gives me intense pleasure. Indeed, if there were all, it would alone suffice to bind me to you, being as I am one who must love men of letters...”

To Jan Mombaer: “Indeed I do respect your talents and the shining goodness of your life, but I embrace you still more warmly for your civilized disposition, and the studies that unite us. The former qualities earn my admiration; the latter, my love.”

To Thomas Grey: “... as regards my affection for you, I want you to take the following as if it were an oracle of Apollo: so long as you continue to embrace virture and good literature as you are doing, this attitude of mine will not be altered by any interruption of intercourse between us or by any stroke of fortune. A lasting affection, based on virtue, can indeed no more come to an end than virtue itself, whereas ... when pleasure lures men to love, they cease to love when satiety supervenes.”

To John Colet: ’...your saintly character could not fail to win everyone’s love, respect, and reverence, even if you had not learning to back it.”

To Cornelis Gerard: “ For, however hard you work at it, you will never be able to send me enough letters to satisfy my longing for you, much less turn it into distaste; while you will not very easily become tired of my company if you really possess the affection for me which your letter professes - and of this I make no doubt. To speak in plainer terms, if in fact your attitude to me is of this kind, you will take the same pleasure in my writings as I do in yours. As for me, I find it almost impossible to express how much pleasure your Apologeticus and also your letter brought me... you could not have sent me a more welcome present than this, since from boyhood I have loved literature, and still love it,... And in proportion to the intensity of my love i for literature is the delight I take in the pursuits of literary men. So, my dear Cornelis, if you love me, as you surely do, pray let me always have some share in your own studies.”

Another letter to Cornelis Gerard: “For my part, sweetest Cornelis, believe me when I say that there is nothing in the world I could long for more ardently than that the love I have always felt in special degree, and deservedly so, for you should be returned by you in kind. For this reason I am glad to echo your remark and make it my own: ’Suffice it to say that my supreme desire is to join with you in a single bond of brotherhood, a single devotion to the literary pursuits we share, and lastly a single foundation of enduring affection.’ And as, in a charming proof of your good will towards me, you have put together a single Apologetic out of your verses and mine, so, admitting the possibility that we may find anything divided between friends, may the hearts of both be linked by a single bond of mutual love to the end that, just as your verses have been woven into the fabric of my poem and mine into yours, so your spirit may ever dwell in me and mine in you; and if we be sundered by distance and cannot meet each other in person as often as we wish, still we shall so far enjoy mental intercourse, exchange of letters, and attention to mutual obligations, that we shall seem never to be apart.”