A of M, 20-23: In which I learned new words


AofM 20-23


In the spirit of pages 20-23, in which writers are described as “all thieves” who “scrape Ennius’ dung-hills,” I will write less putid bloggery from here on: more pictures and fewer words – sometimes none at all – unless I have an imposthume that I needs must drain.

A really great four pages here though, including the famous quote: “I write of melancholy, by being busy to avoid melancholy. There is no greater cause of melancholy than idleness, ‘no better cure than business,’ as Rhasis holds.”

Rhasis (Abū Bakr Muhammad ibn Zakariyyā al-Rāzī) was a famous ninth century Persian physician, philosopher, alchemist, prolific author, and an all-around very wise man judging by that quote above.

I also liked: “When I first took this task in hand, et quod ait ille, impellente genio negotium suscepi [and, as he saith, I undertook the work from some inner impulse], this I aimed at, vel ut lenirem animum scribendo, [or] to ease my mind by writing; for I had gravidum cor, foedum caput, a kind of imposthume in my head, which I was very desirous to be unladen of, and could imagine no fitter evacuation than this. Besides, I might not well refrain, for ubi dolor, ibi digitus, one must needs scratch where it itches. ” Ubi dolor, ibi digitus is my new favorite Latin axiom.

An imposthume is a pus-filled abscess, by the by, and putid is sort of like the intellectual equivalent of putrid. I suspect that reading The Anatomy of Melancholy is going to improve my vocabulary in the best possible way.

Oh, also in this section Burton mentions a guy who spent seven years studying medicine because he believed he suffered from a stomach full of frogs. This book is chock full full of gems like that! Have I convinced anyone else to read yet? They weren’t just any frogs either, they were “Aristophanes’ frogs.”


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.

1 Comment

  1. I’m trying (and I do mean TRYING) to read A of M with you, but….you’re translations are better than the book!!! Also, A of M not illustrated, love your illustrations ;))

    Sent from my iPad


Leave a Reply