Anatomy of Melancholy, 193 – Pt. I, Sec. 2, Mem. I, Subs. 2: A Digression of the Nature of Spirits, Bad Angels, or Devils, and how they cause Melancholy – Hobgoblins

A of M 192Iceland

So starting around here, it starts to get kind of difficult to differentiate between the six kinds of spirit-demons. I think that the fifth kind is basically fairies? Or more like hobgoblins, trolls, satyrs, and all other mythical – at least vaguely human-like – creatures that usually but not always live in the woods, especially in Iceland. Also sometimes they live in volcanoes, but they are not the same as subterranean devils, which also sometimes but not always live in volcanoes. To sum up, this sub-type is more or less culturally specific.

So anyways, in Iceland, every family has its very own hobgoblin:

A bigger kind there is of them called with us hobgoblins, and Robin Goodfellows, that would in those superstitious times grind corn for a mess of milk, cut wood, or do any manner of drudgery work. They would mend old irons in those Aeolian isles of Lipari, in former ages, and have been often seen and heard. Tholosanus calls them trullos and Getulos, and saith, that in his days they were common in many places of France. Dithmarus Bleskenius, in his description of Iceland, reports for a certainty, that almost in every family they have yet some such familiar spirits.


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