Desiderius Erasmus was a really funny guy. History seems to have forgotten just how funny he was! Sadly, his brilliant, hugely influential and engaging light was all but obliterated by his conflict with the firebrand that was Luther. As I explain in my book, “Lessons from Shakespeare’s Classroom,” he was not a fighter, he was by his own admission a bit of a coward; and at the end of his life, as the bloody Reformation embroiled Europe, he retreated from the politic world  and devoted himself to writing colloquies to teach schoolboys conversational Latin.

I’ve shared some of his hilarious colloquies in previous posts, but Proci et Puellae is one that those of you familiar with Shakespeare’s comedies will recognize immediately as a source. Think of all his sparring couples: Beatrice and Benedict (Much Ado About Nothing), Viola and Olivia (Twelfth Night), Rosalind and Orlando (As You Like It), Silvius and Phebe (Also As You Like It), and, of course, Kate and Petruchio (The Taming of the Shrew). (You’ll also see his wit in full display in In Praise of Folly, which he wrote as a homage to his dear friend Thomas More). Thanks to my friend Janet Borrus, we have this video of a totally unrehearsed Proci et Puellae, or A Lover and His Lass, performed by Susan Angelo and Dov Rudnick.

(This recording was done with a cell phone and I’m an amateur and can’t seem to get it to fit, so Susan, unfortunately, gets cut off for part of her luminous portrayal. Sorry about that! If I can find someone to fix it I’ll post it again.)

Remember that Will Shakespeare only ever encountered this colloquy in LATIN!! He would have performed it as a schoolboy learning conversation Latin, the lingua franca for aspiring travelers to Europe, probably at the age of 10 or 11, and they were not published in translate in his lifetime. That’s the reason they have been largely ignored by so many scholars documenting his sources.

Currently you can purchase my book at a 20% discount, with this and  four other of the colloquies in Latin and English at: