Anatomy of Melancholy, 264-266 — Pt. I, Sec. 2, Mem. III, Subsect. 7 — Envy, Malice, Hatred, Causes

“Tis Valescus de Taranta, and Felix Platerus’ observation, ‘Envy so gnaws many men’s hearts, that they become altogether melancholy.‘ And therefore belike Solomon (Prov. xiv. 13) calls it, ‘the rotting of the bones,‘ Cyprian, vulnus occultum [a hidden wound].”

If you were wondering, Valescus de Taranta and Felix Platerus were 16th century physicians, as are an awful lot of people quoted in The Anatomy of Melancholy. You may have heard of Cyprian, an early Christian bishop, saint, and generally philosophical type. He had a plague named after him, so that’s neat. I sort of stopped looking all these guys up at some point, but hey, why not do some Googling today. It’s raining out. Vulnus Occultum would be a great name for a death metal band.

More wisdom on the envious:

“Nothing fats him but other men’s ruins.”

“‘Other sins last but for a while; the gut may be satisfied, anger remits, hatred hath an end, envy never ceaseth.'” (Cardan, lib. 2 de sap.)

After that we have some fairly sexist ramblings about women being especially susceptible to envy, with stories of women scorning each other and occasionally getting murdery over their big feelings. I did not fact check this section, but I know that some of these “examples” are from the Bible, and it is always worth noting that the Bible is a work of literature, not history.

I have to say, as 17th century personages go, Burton isn’t that misogynist. “Not that misogynist” is really pretty progressive in this case, adjusted for age. He seems to have a soft spot for witches, and the real objects of his ire are kings, tyrants, violent dudes, hoarders, oppressors, etc. (ahem – PATRIARCHS) and that fury is just totally right on.

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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