A of M, 124-125: Laughing crying

AofM 124-5

Ha! I thought I was finally going to begin the First Partition, but oh no no no no no, there is yet another piece of introductory material. In this short, third (fourth?) introduction, there is a poem. It is in Latin, so here is my editor’s translation:

Weep, Heraclitus; here is food for tears
In this sad world of ours, where naught appears
Save what is vile and full of bitterness.
Yet thou, Democritus, with equal right
At this same world mayest laugh with all thy might
To see such dotage and such craziness.
With tears and laughter, each as seemed him best,
These two one aim pursued, one grief expressed.
They for their day sufficed; but since, mankind
Is grown to be more vicious and more blind,
And now had need that there should come to life
A thousand such; now madness is so rife
That to Anticyra all the world should pass,
And hellebore should sprout instead of grass.

So yeah. That is a very good poem.

In the unlikely event that you are new to this blog and The Anatomy of Melancholy but have somehow found this page, it is important to know that hellebore is a flowering plant that was used to treat melancholia and madness in the olden days. (Do not use hellebore to treat melancholia or madness. It is poison.) It also helps to know that Democritus was an ancient Greek physician and philosopher who – according to legend – ended his days laughing at the madness of humankind. Heraclitus was another ancient Greek philosopher often called “the weeping philosopher.” He sounds pretty darned mind-bending according to Wikipedia, so I may have to read his stuff. My mind is getting stiff and sore; time for a stretch.

Anyhow – it is worth saying twice – this is a very good poem. Is there a word for that effect some things have of making you laugh and cry at the same time? In English or any other language? Because I feel like I do that a lot since November 2016.

There was also a “petulant spleen” in this section. I thought about drawing it, but I learned my lesson last time.


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 master.of.literature on Instagram.

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