How far their power doth extend it is hard to determine; what the ancients held of their effects, force and operations, I will briefly show you: Plato in Critias, and after him his followers, gave out that these spirits or devils,
were men’s governors and keepers, our lords and masters, as we are of our cattle.
They govern provinces and kingdoms by oracles, auguries, dreams, rewards and punishments, prophecies, inspirations, sacrifices, and religious superstitions, varied in as many forms as there be diversity of spirits; they send wars, plagues, peace, sickness, health, dearth, plenty, Adstantes hic jam nobis, spectantes, et arbitrantes, &c. [standing by us here and now, watching and judging us] as appears by those histories of Thucydides, Livius, Dionysius Halicarnassus, with many others that are full of their wonderful stratagems, and were therefore by those Roman and Greek commonwealths adored and worshipped for gods with prayers and sacrifices, &c. In a word, Nihil magis quaerunt quam metum et admirationem hominum [they seek nothing more eagerly than the fear and admiration of men].
This post is part of a long, tedious, and very illustrated read-along of Robert Burton’s The Anatomy of Melancholy. More info here and follow along on Facebook here. Illustrations posted via devon_isadevon on Instagram.