Robert Burton – “The Anatomy of Melancholy” (the end)

Burton continues his description of this madness called love by making fun of old men who are still driven by lust despite being one foot in the grave. But old women are the same, if not much, much worse. He then proceeds to the medical part of the discourse – he quotes from several authorities (both Eutopean and Arab), discussing various symptoms of love and arguing whether it can be included among diseases of body or mind. He explains also why these authorities called love “amor nobilis” (among them Savonarola’s great-grandfather, who was a famous physician. Who knew?) It’s not because there is something noble about love, but rather because it affects the members of nobility, who have too much food and too much free time on their hands. Finally, he again delves into the medical discourse to discuss which organ love affects most. He gives a whole list of various opinions on the subject but, as in other cases, he rather limits himself to referring other people’s opinions than stating his own. There are several candidates for the affected organs: liver, brain, blood, testicles, heart, but most authorities Burton quotes seem to incline towards the brain.


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