Anatomy of Melancholy, 182: Pt. I, Sec. II, Mem. I, Subsect. II – A Digression of the Nature of Spirits, Bad Angels, or Devils, and how they cause Melancholy

A of M 182

Have you ever wondered how ghosts are shaped? Like, really thought about it. What shape are ghosts? Squares? Circles? Rhombi? Well apparently four hundred years ago Jean Bodin thought about that question a lot:

Bodine goes farther yet, and will have these animae separatae [abstract souls], genii, spirits, angels, devils, and so likewise souls of men departed, if corporeal (which he most eagerly contends), to be of some shape, and that absolutely round, like sun and moon, because that is the most perfect form, quae nihil habet asperitatis, nihil angulis incisum, nihil anfractibus involutem, nihil eminens, sed inter corpora perfecta est perfectissimum; therefore all spirits are corporeal he concludes, and in their proper shapes round. 

Yes, Burton spelled Jean Bodin’s name wrong. But before you make fun, ask yourself if you even know who Jean Bodin is.


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.


Leave a Reply