Robert Burton – “The Anatomy of Melancholy” (ctd.)

Burton wraps up the previous section by a claim that like Democritus, he has nothing to do with this crazy world where there is always something going on, he just likes to go “to a port” metaphorically speaking, to laugh at it.

The next excerpt, “Love Melancholy is from Part 3 Section 2 Member 1 Subsection 2, which should give you an idea about how Burton tries to impose so order on his crazy thoughts. He basically conflates love with sex and says it makes us all go crazy, which he illustrates with some notorious examples like Caligula and Nero. He moves on to the topic of women’s lust, again illustrating it with some examples like Rahab, the harlot from the Book of Joshua, who according to some biblicists started her trade at the age of ten and which for Burton is of course not a symptom of some horrible child abuse but of her concupiscence. But generally, he claims, women reach puberty at the age of fourteen and from then on they think of nothing but sex. But men are just as bad and again we are treated to a list of biblical examples of men who were brought low by their lust.

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