You know who else is mad with vainglory and philautia? Monks! Hypocritical monk self-love is one of the most vexing problems facing the modern world. Monks are “insensibly mad, and know not of it, such as contemn all praise and glory, think themselves most free whenas indeed they are most mad.”
I’m mostly kidding about that being relevant. Replace “monk” with “professor” however, and the more things change the more things stay the same and all that, at least a little bit. Wait, is that a Burton quote? It seems like it could be, but no, it’s Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr and/or Bon Jovi.
Getting back to the 17th century, here we have yet more railing against pride, which I like very much (the railing against, not the pride):
All this madness yet proceeds from ourselves, the main engine which batters us is from others, we are merely passive in this business: from a company of parasites and flatterers, that with immoderate praise and bombast epithets, glozing titles, false elogiums, so bedaub and applaud, gild over many a silly and undeserving man, that they clap him quite out of his wits. Res imprimus violent est, as Hierome notes, this common applause is a most violent thing, laudum placenta [a cake of praises], a drum, fife, and trumpet cannot so animate; that fattens men, erects and dejects them in an instant. Palma negata macrum, donata reducit opimum. It makes them fat and lean, as frost doth conies.
I wouldn’t know what it feels like to be clapped out of my wits, so all I have to add is that if you had asked me what “laudum placenta” meant yesterday, I definitely would not of guessed “cake of praises.” Is placenta Latin for cake? <She googles.> It is, so there’s that.
Lastly, glozing. We need to talk more about glozing. But maybe next time, because I am sleepy.
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.