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Erasmus Montanus: The Tragi-Comic Victim of the Crowd

Erasmus Montanus is the eponymous protagonist of Ludvig Holberg’s (1684-1754) comedy Erasmus Montanus or Rasmus Berg.1 Erasmus is the son of the farmer Jeppe Berg,2 who sent him to the university in Copenhagen to acquire a classical education. While there, Rasmus adopts the Latin equivalent of his name, Erasmus Montanus, as a sign of his erudition, which is reinforced by its evocation of the illustrious Dutch Renaissance humanist Erasmus of Rotterdam (1466-1536). The play deals with Erasmus’ return to his parents’ village, Bjerget (which, literally translated, means the mountain or the hill), and the conflicts that ensue as a result of both his insufferable arrogance and the revolutionary ideas that he has acquired.