Tuesday, January 09, 2007

On the Uses of Venery

Another piece of wisdom from Robert Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy (or why one should engage in venereal activity often :))

Venus omitted produceth like effects. Mathiolus, epist. 5. l. penult.,avoucheth of his knowledge, that some through bashfulness abstained from venery, and thereupon became very heavy and dull; and some others that were very timorous, melancholy, and beyond all measure sad. Oribasius, med. collect. l. 6. c. 37, speaks of some, That if they do not use carnal copulation, are continually troubled with heaviness and headache; and some in the same case by intermission of it. Not use of it hurts many, Arculanus, c. 6. in 9. Rhasis, et Magninus, part. 3. cap. 5, think, because it sends up poisoned vapours to the brain and heart. And so doth Galen himself hold, That if this natural seed be over-long kept (in some parties) it turns to poison. Hieronymus Mercurialis, in his chapter of melancholy, cites it for an especial cause of this malady, priapismus, satyriasis, &c. Haliabbas, 5. Theor. c. 36, reckons up this and many other diseases. Villanovanus Breviar. l. 1. c. 18, saith, He knew many monks and widows grievously troubled with melancholy, and that from this sole cause. Ludovicus Mercatus, l. 2. de mulierum affect. cap. 4, and Rodericus a Castro, de morbis mulier. l. 2. c. 3, treat largely of this subject, and will have it produce a peculiar kind of melancholy in stale maids, nuns, and widows, Ob suppressionem mensium et venerem omissam, timidae, moestae anxiae, verecundae, suspicioscae, languentes, consilii inopes, cum summa vitae et rerum meliorum desperatione, &c., they are melancholy in the highest degree, and all for want of husbands. Aelianus Montaltus, cap. 37. de melanchol., confirms as much out of Galen; so doth Wierus, Christophorus a Vega de art. med. lib. 3. c. 14, relates many such examples of men and women, that he had seen so melancholy. Felix Plater in the first book of his Observations, tells a story of an ancient gentleman in Alsatia, that married a young wife, and was not able to pay his debts in that kind for a long time together, by reason of his several infirmities: but she, because of this inhibition of Venus, fell into a horrible fury, and desired every one that came to see her, by words, looks, and gestures, to have to do with her, &c. Bernardus Paternus, a physician, saith, He knew a good honest godly priest, that because he would neither willingly marry, nor make use of the stews, fell into grievous melancholy fits. Hildesheim, spicel. 2, hath such another example of an Italian melancholy priest, in a consultation had Anno 1580. Jason Pratensis gives instance in a married man, that from his wife's death abstaining, after marriage, became exceedingly melancholy, Rodericus a Fonseca in a young man so misaffected, Tom. 2. consult. 85. To these you may add, if you please, that conceited tale of a Jew, so visited in like sort, and so cured, out of Poggius Florentinus.

4 comments:

Antonia said...

do I sense here a case of sublimation? ;)

Alok said...

yeah definitely. and burton is soooo pre-freudian :)

Udge said...

"How unusual that a man should become melancholy after his wife's death! What possible reason could there have been for that?" One is caused to wonder on which planet these philosophers (hello Antonia!) live.

Alok said...

but Udge we often lose sight of the obvious, don't we? we need philosophers who keep reminding us of it from time to time. :)