Anatomy of Melancholy, 261-262 — Pt. I, Sec. 2, Mem. III, Subsect. 5 — Fear a Cause

This drawing is just a little too much, isn’t it? Well, you know what else is too much? Just absolutely everything right now. So how fitting that today’s section is on fear! Burton wisely makes the case that fear is a counterproductive perturbation of the spirit:

“Fear makes our imagination conceive what it list, invites the devil to come to us, as Agrippa and Cardan avouch.”

I’ll avouch for that! Haha sorry. That was a terrible pun. I’m just trying to distract myself from all the horrible happening OUT THERE. I hope Elon Musk has a whole fleet of escape rocket ships ready to go! Here’s another quote:

“What [men] fear they conceive, and feign unto themselves; they think they see goblins, hags, devils, and many times become melancholy thereby. Cardan, subtil. lib. 18, hath an example of such an one, so caused to be melancholy (by sight of a bugbear) all his life after. 

I WISH I was just imagining bugbears under my bed right now. Please, send in the hags. More hags! Maybe they can help somehow with this whole global pandemic thing, the potential collapse of American democracy, rising oceans, mass extinctions, and… Where was I? Oh yes. Augustus Caesar was afraid of the dark:

“Augustus Caesar durst not sit in the dark, nisi aliquo assidente, saith Suetonius, Nunquam tenebris exigilavit [unless someone was with him, he never sat up in the dark.]”

Well that seems totally reasonable to me. Everyone knows there are bugbears in the dark.

To sum up this section: fear is a bad, stupid waste of emotional space. So get over it, Augustus Caesar, and remember to vote on Tuesday. Oops wrong millenium.

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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