Anatomy of Melancholy, 210-211 – Pt. I, Sec. 2, Mem. I, Subs. 5: Old Age a Cause

Burton does not have a lot of good things to say about old people: Full of ache, sorrow and grief, children again, dizzards, they carl many times as they sit, and talk to themselves, they are angry, waspish, displeased with every thing, suspicious of all, wayward, covetous, hard (saith Tully,) self-willed, superstitious, self-conceited, braggers and admirers of themselves, as […]

Anatomy of Melancholy, 205: Pt. I, Sec. 2, Mem. I, Subsect. 4 — Stars a cause. Signs from Physiognomy, Metoposcopy, Chiromancy.

  The stars rule us, God rules the stars, and we can rule ourselves if we’re smart: Natural causes are either primary and universal, or secondary and more particular. Primary causes are the heavens, planets, stars, etc., by their influence (as our astrologers hold) producing this and such like effects… they do incline, but not compel; […]

Anatomy of Melancholy, 199-200 – Pt. I, Sec. 2, Mem. I, Subs. 2: A Digression of the Nature of Spirits, Bad Angels, or Devils, and how they cause Melancholy – Their Power, How Used

The devil can make you famous. The devil can inspire. And the devil can also give you a doozy of a tummy ache: Never was any man extraordinary famous in any art, action, or great commander, that had not familiarem daemonem [a familiar demon] to inform him. And Jason Pratensis, “that the devil, being a slender incomprehensible spirit, […]

Anatomy of Melancholy, 197 – Pt. I, Sec. 2, Mem. I, Subs. 2: A Digression of the Nature of Spirits, Bad Angels, or Devils, and how they cause Melancholy – Extent of Their Power

How far their power doth extend it is hard to determine; what the ancients held of their effects, force and operations, I will briefly show you: Plato in Critias, and after him his followers, gave out that these spirits or devils, were men’s governors and keepers, our lords and masters, as we are of our cattle. They […]

Anatomy of Melancholy, 190 – Pt. I, Sec. 2, Mem. I, Subs. 2: A Digression of the Nature of Spirits, Bad Angels, or Devils, and how they cause Melancholy – Fiery Spirits

Fiery spirits or devils are such as commonly work by blazing stars, fire-drakes, or ignes fatui; which lead men often in flumina aut praecipitia, saith Bodine, lib. 2. Theat. Naturae, fol. 221(…) likewise they counterfeit suns and moons, stars oftentimes, and sit on ship masts: In navigiorum summitatibus visuntur; and are called dioscuri, as Eusebius l. contra Philosophos, c. xlviii. informeth us, […]

Anatomy of Melancholy, 173-174: Member III, Subsect. III – Of the Matter of Melancholy

What is melancholy made of made of? What is melancholy made of? Snips and snails and puppy dogs’ tails. That’s what melancholy is made of: If the humour be cold, it is, saith Faventinus, “a cause of dotage, and produceth milder symptoms: if hot, they are rash, raving mad, or inclining to it.” If the […]

Anatomy of Melancholy 169-170: Memb. III, Subsect. I. – Definition of Melancholy, Name, Difference

Hey look! I made it to Member III! I didn’t even know that I was in Member II before! What are Members?!  And why didn’t I notice them before?! I am pretty sure that we have four levels of sections and subsections going on here: Parts, Sections, Members, and Subsections. Wow. So anyhow, at last: […]

Anatomy of Melancholy, 160-162: Subsect. VII. – Of the Moving Faculty

Nothing too deep here, but I guess it is neat that humans can move around. Better than being a fungus or something. This moving faculty is the other power of the sensitive soul, which causeth all those inward and outward animal motions in the body. It is divided into two faculties, the power of appetite, […]

Anatomy of Melancholy , 154-157: Of the Soul and her Faculties, continued

  The common division of the soul is into three principal faculties–vegetal, sensitive, and rational, which make three distinct kinds of living creatures–vegetal plants, sensible beasts, rational men. How these three principal faculties are distinguished and connected, Humano ingenio inaccessum videtur, is beyond human capacity, as Taurellus, Philip, Flavins, and others suppose. The inferior may […]

Anatomy of Melancholy, 150: Containing Parts, Dissimilar, Inward

  That’s right, more bat-shit crazy antiquated anatomy! Inward organical parts, which cannot be seen, are divers in number, and have several names, functions, and divisions; but that of Laurentius is most notable, into noble or ignoble parts. Of the noble there be three principal parts, to which all the rest belong, and whom they […]

Anatomy of Melancholy, 150: Containing Parts, Dissimilar, Outward

  Dissimilar parts are those which we call organical, or instrumental, and they be inward or outward. The chiefest outward parts are situate forward or backward:–forward, the crown and foretop of the head, skull, face, forehead, temples, chin, eyes, ears, nose, etc., neck, breast, chest, upper and lower part of the belly, hypocondries, navel, groin, flank, etc.; backward, the hinder […]

The Anatomy of Melancholy, 148: The four humours, melancholy

Melancholy, cold and dry, thick, black, sour, begotten of the more feculent part of nourishment, and purged from the spleen, is a bridle to the other two hot humours, blood and choler, preserving them in the blood, and nourishing the bones. These four humours have some analogy with the four elements, and to the four ages of man.

A of M, 139-143: Dotage, Madness, Frenzy, Hydrophobia, Lycanthropia, Chorus Sancti Viti, Ecstasis

Lycanthropia, which Avicenna calls cucubuth, others lupinam insaniam, or wolf-madness, when men run howling about graves and fields in the night, and will not be persuaded but that they are wolves, or some such beasts. Aetius and Paulus call it a kind of melancholy; but I should rather refer it to madness, as most do. […]

Read with me!

When a giant angry turnip was elected president of the United States last year, I started to feel a little down. Naturally my response was to buy an unabridged copy of Robert Burton’s The Anatomy of Melancholy. My get-out-of-bed-without-crying-plan is to read a little piece of this gargantuan lump of knowledge daily, and I will illustrate it as I go.