Thursday, August 09, 2012

Anatomy of Melancholy VIII

" a most delicious object...and we had rather see it than the sun." (Burton)

This is somewhat off topic, but the idea of people, or rather their spirits, in heaven wearing clothes, which is an image that has certainly flitted across my attempts at perception from time to time, is really rather silly.

In the margins of the section on charities I wrote: "My capacity (patience) to follow philosophical arguments/concepts is weak at the moment, but I think it will come back strong at some point." I no longer entertain this delusion.

"...our whole life is a perpetual combat, a conflict, a set battle, a snarling fit."

"In the precedent section mention was made, amongst other pleasant objects, of this comeliness and beauty which proceeds from women, that causeth heroical, or love-melancholy, is more eminent above the rest, and properly called love." Nicely expressed. The following pages contain, among other things, a catalog of famously oversexed women (The Wife of Bath, Aretine's Lucretia, etc), lechery, and various other unseemly behaviors produced by enslavement to lust. They are not speaking to me tonight as much as they apparently did when I read the book the first time.

"Nicholas Sanders relate of Henry VIII (I know not how truly), he saw very few [pretty] maids that he did not desire, and desired fewer whom he did not enjoy..." It is given to few men to experience life so fully as King Henry VIII did.

"...(saith Jovius)...[there is a levy throughout the kingdom of girls of striking beauty for the emperor; and those whom he leaves go to the nobles]; they press and muster up wenches as we do soldiers, and have the choice of the rarest beauties their countries can afford..." The footnote on this section reads "in Muscov" which I assume means Russia. In our day Fidel Castro and King Jong Il are said to have been keeping this ancient tradition of scouring the countryside to fill the emperor's harem alive (the Sultan of Brunei is able to fill his by advertising in American newspapers--probably on the internet these days--and offering good coin).

"...we think, fortune is a stepmother to us, a parent to them." On renowned, rich and happy men, when these are not ourselves.

I remember this from Plutarch: "Agis, King of Lacadaemon, had like to have been deposed, because he married a little wife; they would not have their royal issue degenerate." How little was she? My wife is considered little (hence my sensitivity on the subject), but our children do not appear at present to be appreciably shorter, or less princely for that matter, than anyone else.

Given that this book is a repository of thousands of quotations, mostly from obscure authors, I thought it worth commemorating the first appearance of Shakespeare (identified by Burton only as "an elegant poet of ours") on page 771. It is from "Venus and Adonis". I suppose I might as well include it:

"The bushes in the way
Some catch her neck, some kiss her face,
Some twine about her legs to make her stay,
And all did covet her for to embrace."

"...I know not well whether...of a cold bath that suddenly smoked and was very hot when naked Caelia came into it." I would have liked to have met this Caelia.

"Heliodorus...brings in Thyamis almost besides himself, when he saw Chariclea first, and not daring to look upon her a second time, 'for he thought it unpossible for any man living to see her and contain himself.'"

"...the hairs (i.e., ladies' hair) are Cupid's nets, to catch all comers, a brushy wood, in which Cupid builds his nests..." Quotation from Arandus.

No comments: