In keeping with the prevailing spirit of the Renaissance, Rabelais presents us with a view of human nature that owes much to the pagan thinkers of antiquity.
In one especially colorful and revealing passage from Gargantua and Pantagruel, Rabelais gives us a detailed description of life inside the Abbey of Thélème. For the monks of the Abbey, life is a lot different from that of Rabelais when he was a monk in his younger days. Far from being a strict institution that insists on hard work, self-flagellation, and silent contemplation, the Abbey of Thélème is organized on strictly humanist principles. Its motto is "Do what you will!" and those who enter its doors are positively encouraged to live their lives according to the unrestrained pursuit of pleasure.
Amidst the prevailing atmosphere of boundless hedonism, there's also time for study and learning. The Abbey's inmates acquire an in-depth knowledge of classical languages such as Greek and Latin, as well as Chaldean, Hebrew, and Arabic....
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