Anatomy of Melancholy, 170-172: Memb. III, Subsect. II – Of the Part Affected. Affection. Parties Affected.

AofM 170-172


Were you born under Saturn? Do you live in a climate that is too cold? Too hot? Too moist? Are you too moist generally? Is your head unusually small? These are just a few of the many sources of a saturnine temperament.

Here Burton also addresses the hotly debated topic of whether melancholy affects reason or imagination. I’m pretty sure he concludes that it messes with both. But here’s a funny! If your melancholy affects your brain (reason), then in addition to feeling down in the dumps, you might just think that you are a snail or shrimp:

Montaltus in his second chapter of Melancholy confutes this tenent of theirs, and illustrates the contrary by many examples: as of him that thought himself a shell-fish, of a nun, and of a desperate monk that would not be persuaded but that he was damned; reason was at fault as well as imagination, which did not correct this error: they make away themselves oftentimes, and suppose many absurd and ridiculous things.


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.


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