Friday, January 13, 2006



Robert Burton, Anatomy of Melancholy
In general, "as the heaven, so is our life, sometimes fair, sometimes overcast, tempestuous, and serene; as in a rose, flowers and prickles; in the year itself, a temperate summer sometimes, a hard winter, a drought, and then again pleasant showers: so is our life intermixed with joys, hopes, fears, sorrows, calumnies: Invicem cedunt dolor et voluptas," there is a succession of pleasure and pain.
A series of quotations, as so often in Burton. The first apparently comes from a letter of Justus Lipsius (Joost Lips):
ut coelum, sic nos homines sumus: illud ex intervallo nubibus obducitur et obscuratur. in rosario flores spinis intermixti. vita similis aeri, udum modo, sudum, tempestas, serenitas: ita vices rerum sunt, praemia gaudiis, et sequaces curae.
How should one construe praemia gaudiis here? Lipsius himself echoes Lucretius 2.48 (curaeque sequaces = dogging cares).

The second quotation comes from a play by Seneca (Thyestes 596-597):
No lot lasts long; pain and pleasure in their turn pass away; pleasure is shorter.

nulla sors longa est; dolor ac voluptas
invicem cedunt; brevior voluptas.

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