Like More himself, Peter Giles is both a historical personage and a character in Utopia. Historically, he was a pupil and friend of the great Dutch humanist Erasmus, and he was appointed Chief Secretary of Antwerp in 1510; in 1515, it was Erasmus himself who introduced Giles to More. In the work, More describes Giles as a citizen of Antwerp, honest, learned, virtuous, kind-hearted, and loving. More finds Giles’s conversation both merry and pleasant, and it makes him feel less homesick to have such an entertaining new friend. Moreover, Giles introduces More to Raphael Hythloday. Although Giles doesn’t often speak in Utopia, he is important as a representative of the culture of Renaissance humanism—so highly esteemed by More— which valued the humanities, especially the revival of classical literature and rhetoric, as a means of encouraging virtue and civic ethics in society.
The timeline below shows where the character Peter Giles appears in Utopia. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
While living in Antwerp, More befriends an honest, learned citizen of that city: Peter Giles. More finds Giles’s conversation both merry and pleasant, and it makes More feel less homesick... (full context)
...day, while returning to his house in Antwerp after a church service, More runs into Giles, who is speaking with an old, sunburned, long-bearded, and cloaked stranger from Portugal; this man... (full context)