How Love tyranniseth over men. Love, or Heroical Melancholy, his definition, part affected

How Love tyranniseth over men. Love, or Heroical Melancholy, his definition, part affected

You have heard how this tyrant Love rageth with brute beasts and spirits; now let us consider what passions it causeth amongst men. Improbe amor quid non mortalia pectora cogis? How it tickles the hearts of mortal men, Horresco referens,-- I am almost afraid to relate, amazed, and ashamed, it hath wrought such stupendous and prodigious effects, such foul offences. Love indeed (I may not deny) first united provinces, built cities, and by a perpetual generation makes and preserves mankind, propagates the church; but if it rage it is no more love, but burning lust, a disease, frenzy, madness, hell. Est orcus ille, vis est immedicabilis, est rabies insana; 'tis no virtuous habit this, but a vehement perturbation of the mind, a monster of nature, wit, and art, as Alexis in Athenæus sets it out, viriliter audax, muliebriter timidium, furore præceps, labore infractum, mel felleum, blanda percussio, &c. It subverts kingdoms, overthrows cities, towns, families, mars, corrupts, and makes a massacre of men; thunder and lightning, wars, fires, plagues, have not done that mischief to mankind, as this burning lust, this brutish passion. Let Sodom and Gomorrah, Troy, (which Dares Phrygius, and Dictis Cretensis will make good) and I know not how many cities bear record,-- et fuit ante Helenam, &c., all succeeding ages will subscribe: Joanna of Naples in Italy, Fredegunde and Brunhalt in France, all histories are full of these basilisks. Besides those daily monomachies, murders, effusion of blood, rapes, riot, and immoderate expense, to satisfy their lusts, beggary, shame, loss, torture, punishment, disgrace, loathsome diseases that proceed from thence, worse than calentures and pestilent fevers, those often gouts, pox, arthritis, palsies, cramps, sciatica, convulsions, aches, combustions, &c., which torment the body, that feral melancholy which crucifies the soul in this life, and everlastingly torments in the world to come.

Notwithstanding they know these and many such miseries, threats, tortures, will surely come upon them, rewards, exhortations, e contra; yet either out of their own weakness, a depraved nature, or love's tyranny, which so furiously rageth, they suffer themselves to be led like an ox to the slaughter: (Facilis descensus Averni) they go down headlong to their own perdition, they will commit folly with beasts, men "leaving the natural use of women," as Paul saith, "burned in lust one towards another, and man with man wrought filthiness."

Semiramis equo, Pasiphaë tauro, Aristo Ephesius asinæ se commiscuit, Fulvius equæ, alii canibus, capris, &c., unde monstra nascuntur aliquando, Centauri, Sylvani, et ad terrorem hominum prodigiosa spectra: Nec cum brutis, sed ipsis hominibus rem habent, quod peccatum Sodomiæ vulgo dicitur; et frequens olim vitium apud Orientalis illos fuit, Græcos nimirum, Italos, Afros, Asianos: Hercules Hylam habuit, Polycletum, Dionem, Perithoonta, Abderum et Phryga; alii et Euristium ab Hercule amatum tradunt. Socrates pulchrorum Adolescentum causa frequens Gymnasium adibat, flagitiosque spectaculo pascebat oculos, quod et Philebus et Phædon, Rivales, Charmides et reliqui Platonis Dialogi, satis superque testatum faciunt: quod vero Alcibiades de eodem Socrate loquatur, lubens conticesco, sed et abhorreo; tantum incitamentum præbet libidini. At hunc perstrinxit Theodoretus lib. de curat. græc. affect. cap. ultimo. Quin et ipse Plato suum demiratur Agathonem, Xenophon, Cliniam, Virgilius Alexin, Anacreon Bathyllum: Quod autem de Nerone, Claudio, cæterorumque portentosa libidine memoriæ proditum, mallem a Petronio, Suetonio, cæterisque petatis, quando omnem fidem excedat, quam a me expectetis; sed vetera querimur. Apud Asianos, Turcas, Italos, nunquam frequentius hoc quam hodierno die vitium; Diana Romanorum Sodomia; officinæ horum alicubi apud Turcas,-- "qui saxis semina mandant" -- arenas arantes; et frequentes querelæ, etiam inter ipsos conjuges hac de re, "quæ virorum concubitum illicitum calceo in oppositam partem verso magistratui indicant"; nullum apud Italos familiare magis peccatum, qui et post Lucianum et Tatium, scriptis voluminibis defendunt. Johannes de la Casa, Beventinus Episcopus, divinum opus vocat, suave scelus, adeoque jactat, se non alia, usum Venere. Nihil usitatius apud monachos, Cardinales, sacrificulos, etiam furor hic ad mortem, ad insaniam. Angelus Politianus, ob pueri amorem, violentas sibi inanus injecit. Et horrendum sane dictu, quantum apud nos patrum memoria, scelus detestandum hoc sævierit! Quum enim Anno 1538. "prudentissimus Rex Henricus Octavus cucullatorum cœnobia, et sacrificorum collegia, votariorum, per venerabiles legum Doctores Thomam Leum, Richardum Laytonum visitari fecerat, &c., tanto numero reperti sunt apud eos scortatores, cinædi, ganeones, pædicones, puerarii, pæderastæ, Sodomitæ", ( Balei verbis utor) "Ganimedes, &c. ut in unoquoque eorum novam credideris Gomorrham". Sed vide si lubet eorundem Catalogum apud eundem Balcum; "Puellæ" (inquit) "in lectis dormire non poterant ob fratres necromanticos". Hæc si apud votarios, monachos, sanctos scilicet homunciones, quid in foro, quid in aula factum suspiceris? quid apud nobiles, quid inter fornices, quam non fœditatem, quam non spurcitiem? Sileo interim turpes illas, et ne nominandas quidem monachorum mastrupationes, masturbatores. Rodericus a Castro vocat, tum et eos qui se invicem ad Venerem excitandam flagris cædunt, Spintrias, Succubas, Ambubeias, et lasciviente lumbo Tribades illas mulierculas, quæ se invicem fricant, et præter Eunuchos etiam ad Venerem explendam, artificiosa illa veretra habent. Immo quod magis mirere, fœmina fœminam Constantinopoli non ita pridem deperiit, ausa rem plane incredibilem, mutato cultu mentita virum de nuptiis sermonem init, et brevi nupta est: sed authorem ipsum consule, Busbequium. Omitto Salanarios illos Egyptiacos, qui cum formosarum cadaveribus concumbunt; et eorum vesanam libidinem, qui etiam idola et imagines depereunt. Nota est fabula Pigmalionis apud Ovidium; Mundi et Paulini apud Ægesippum belli Jud. lib. 2. cap. 4. Pontius C. Cæsaris legatus, referente Plinio, lib. 35. cap. 3. quem suspicor eum esse qui Christum crucifixit, picturis Atalantæ et Helenæ adeo libidine incensus, ut tollere eas vellet si natura tectorii permisisset, alius statuam bonæ Fortunæ deperiit (Ælianus, lib. 9. cap. 37.) alius bonæ deæ, et ne qua pars probro vacet. "Raptus ad stupra" (quod ait ille) "et ne os quidem a libidine exceptum." Heliogabalus, per omnia cava corporis libidinem recepit, Lamprid. vita ejus. Hostius quidam specula fecit, et ita disposuit, ut quum virum ipse pateretur, aversus omnes admissarii motus in speculo videret, ac deinde falsa magnitudine ipsius membri tanquam vera gauderet, simul virum et fœminam passus, quod dictu fœdum et abominandum. Ut veram plane sit, quod apud Plutarchum Gryllus Ulyssi objecit. "Ad hunc usque diem apud nos neque mas marem, neque fœmina fœminam amavit, qualia multa apud vos memorabiles et præclari viri fecerunt: ut viles missos faciam, Hercules imberbem sectans socium, amicos deseruit, &c. Vestræ libidines intra suos naturæ fines cœrceri non possunt, quin instar fluvii exundantis atrocem fœditatum, tumultum, confusionemque naturæ gignant in re Venerea: nam et capras, porcos, equos inierunt viri et fœminæ, insano bestiarum amore exarserunt, imde Minotauri, Centauri, Sylvani, Sphinges", &c. Sed ne confutando doceam, aut ea foras efferam, quæ, non omnes scire convenit (hæc enim doctis solummodo, quod causa non absimili Rodericus, scripta velim) ne levissomis ingentis et depravatis mentibus fœdissimi sceleris notitiam, &c., nolo quem diutius hisce sordibus inquinare.

I come at last to that heroical love which is proper to men and women, is a frequent cause of melancholy, and deserves much rather to be called burning lust, than by such an honourable title. There is an honest love, I confess, which is natural, laqueus occultus captivans corda hominum, ut a mulieribus non possint separari, "a secret snare to captivate the hearts of men," as Christopher Fonseca proves, a strong allurement, of a most attractive, occult, adamantine property, and powerful virtue, and no man living can avoid it. Et qui vim non sensit amoris, aut lapis est, aut bellua. He is not a man but a block, a very stone, aut Numen, aut Nebuchadnezzar, he hath a gourd for his head, a pepon for his heart, that hath not felt the power of it, and a rare creature to be found, one in an age, Qui nunquam visæ flagravit amore puellæ; ("One whom no maiden's beauty has ever affected.") for semel insanivimus omnes, dote we either young or old, as he said, and none are excepted but Minerva and the Muses: so Cupid in Lucian complains to his mother Venus, that amongst all the rest his arrows could not pierce them. But this nuptial love is a common passion, an honest, for men to love in the way of marriage; ut materia appetit formam, sic mulier virum. ("As matter seeks form, so woman turns towards man.") You know marriage is honourable, a blessed calling, appointed by God himself in Paradise; it breeds true peace, tranquillity, content, and happiness, qua nulla est aut fuit unquam sanctior conjunctio, as Daphnæus in Plutarch could well prove, et quæ generi humano immortalitatem parat, when they live without jarring, scolding, lovingly as they should do.

"Felices ter et amplius
Quos irrupta tenet copula, nec ullis
Divulsus querimoniis
Suprema citius solvit amor die."

"Thrice happy they, and more than that,
Whom bond of love so firmly ties,
That without brawls till death them part,
'Tis undissolv'd and never dies."

As Seneca lived with his Paulina, Abraham and Sarah, Orpheus and Eurydice, Arria and Poetus, Artemisia and Mausolus, Rubenius Celer, that would needs have it engraven on his tomb, he had led his life with Ennea, his dear wife, forty-three years eight months, and never fell out. There is no pleasure in this world comparable to it, 'tis summum mortalitatis bonum -- hominum divumque voluptas, Alma Venus -- latet enim in muliere aliquid majus potentiusque, omnibus aliis humanis voluptatibus, as one holds, there's something in a woman beyond all human delight; a magnetic virtue, a charming quality, an occult and powerful motive. The husband rules her as head, but she again commands his heart, he is her servant, she is only joy and content: no happiness is like unto it, no love so great as this of man and wife, no such comfort as placens uxor, a sweet wife: Omnis amor magnus, sed aperto in conjuge major. When they love at last as fresh as they did at first, Charaque charo consenescit conjugi, (Simonides, græc. "She grows old in love and in years together.") as Homer brings Paris kissing Helen, after they had been married ten years, protesting withal that he loved her as dear as he did the first hour that he was betrothed. And in their old age, when they make much of one another, saying, as he did to his wife in the poet,

"Uxor vivamus quod viximus, et moriamur,
Servantes nomen sumpsimus in thalamo;
Nec ferat ulla dies ut commutemur in ævo,
Quin tibi sim juvenis, tuque puella mihi."

"Dear wife, let's live in love, and die together,
As hitherto we have in all good will:
Let no day change or alter our affections.
But let's be young to one another still."

Such should conjugal love be, still the same, and as they are one flesh, so should they be of one mind, as in an aristocratical government, one consent, Geyron-like, coalescere in unum, have one heart in two bodies, will and nill the same. A good wife, according to Plutarch, should be as a looking-glass to represent her husband's face and passion: if he be pleasant, she should be merry: if he laugh, she should smile: if he look sad, she should participate of his sorrow, and bear a part with him, and so should they continue in mutual love one towards another.

"Et me ab amore tuo deducet nulla senectus,
Sive ego Tythonus, sive ego Nestor ero."

"No age shall part my love from thee, sweet wife,
Though I live Nestor or Tithonus' life."

And she again to him, as the Bride saluted the Bridegroom of old in Rome, Ubi tu Caius, ego semper Caia, be thou still Caius, I'll be Caia.

'Tis a happy state this indeed, when the fountain is blessed (saith Solomon, Prov. v. 17.) "and he rejoiceth with the wife of his youth, and she is to him as the loving hind and pleasant roe, and he delights in her continually." But this love of ours is immoderate, inordinate, and not to be comprehended in any bounds. It will not contain itself within the union of marriage, or apply to one object, but is a wandering, extravagant, a domineering, a boundless, an irrefragable, a destructive passion: sometimes this burning lust rageth after marriage, and then it is properly called jealousy; sometimes before, and then it is called heroical melancholy; it extends sometimes to co-rivals, &c., begets rapes, incests, murders: Marcus Antonius compressit Faustinam sororem, Caracalla Juliam Novercam, Nero Matrem, Caligula sorores, Cyneras Myrrham filiam, &c. But it is confined within no terms of blood, years, sex, or whatsoever else. Some furiously rage before they come to discretion, or age. Quartilla in Petronius never remembered she was a maid; and the wife of Bath, in Chaucer, cracks,

Since I was twelve years old, believe,
Husbands at Kirk-door had I five
.

Aratine Lucretia sold her maidenhead a thousand times before she was twenty-four years old, plus milies vendiderant virginitatem, &c. neque te celabo, non deerant qui ut integram ambirent. Rahab, that harlot, began to be a professed quean at ten years of age, and was but fifteen when she hid the spies, as Hugh Broughton proves, to whom Serrarius the Jesuit, quæst. 6. in cap. 2. Josue, subscribes. Generally women begin pubescere, as they call it, or catullire, as Julius Pollux cites, lib. 2. cap. 3. onomast out of Aristophanes, at fourteen years old, then they do offer themselves, and some plainly rage. Leo Afer saith, that in Africa a man shall scarce find a maid at fourteen years of age, they are so forward, and many amongst us after they come into the teens do not live without husbands, but linger. What pranks in this kind the middle ages have played is not to be recorded. Si mihi sint centum linguæ, sint oraque centum, no tongue can sufficiently declare, every story is full of men and women's insatiable lust, Nero's, Heliogabali, Bonosi, &c. Cœlius Amphilenum, sed Quintius Amphelinam depereunt, &c. They neigh after other men's wives (as Jeremia, cap. v. 8. complaineth) like fed horses, or range like town bulls, raptores virginum et viduarum, as many of our great ones do. Solomon's wisdom was extinguished in this fire of lust, Samson's strength enervated, piety in Lot's daughters quite forgot, gravity of priesthood in Eli's sons, reverend old age in the Elders that would violate Susanna, filial duty in Absalom to his stepmother, brotherly love in Ammon towards his sister. Human, divine laws, precepts, exhortations, fear of God and men, fair, foul means, fame, fortune, shame, disgrace, honour cannot oppose, stave off, or withstand the fury of it, omnia vincit amor, &c. No cord nor cable can so forcibly draw, or hold so fast, as love can do with, a twined thread. The scorching beams under the equinoctial, or extremity of cold within the circle arctic, where the very seas are frozen, cold or torrid zone, cannot avoid or expel this heat, fury, and rage of mortal men.

"Quo fugis ab demens, nulla est fuga, tu licet usque
Ad Tanaim fugias, usque sequetur amor."

Of women's unnatural, insatiable lust, what country, what village doth not complain? Mother and daughter sometimes dote on the same man, father and son, master and servant, on one woman.

" -- Sed amor, sed ineffrenata libido,
Quid castum in terris intentatumque reliquit?"

What breach of vows and oaths, fury, dotage, madness, might I reckon up? Yet this is more tolerable in youth, and such as are still in their hot blood; but for an old fool to dote, to see an old lecher, what more odious, what can be more absurd? and yet what so common? Who so furious? Amare ea ætate si occiperint, multo insaniunt acrius. Some dote then more than ever they did in their youth. How many decrepit, hoary, harsh, writhen, bursten-bellied, crooked, toothless, bald, blear-eyed, impotent, rotten, old men shall you see flickering still in every place? One gets him a young wife, another a courtesan, and when he can scarce lift his leg over a sill, and hath one foot already in Charon's boat, when he hath the trembling in his joints, the gout in his feet, a perpetual rheum in his head, "a continuate cough," his sight fails him, thick of hearing, his breath stinks, all his moisture is dried up and gone, may not spit from him, a very child again, that cannot dress himself, or cut his own meat, yet he will be dreaming of, and honing after wenches, what can be more unseemly? Worse it is in women than in men, when she is ætate declivis, diu vidua, mater olim, parum decore matrimonium sequi videtur, an old widow, a mother so long since ( in Pliny's opinion) , she doth very unseemly seek to marry, yet whilst she is so old a crone, a beldam, she can neither see, nor hear, go nor stand, a mere carcass, a witch, and scarce feel; she caterwauls, and must have a stallion, a champion, she must and will marry again, and betroth herself to some young man, that hates to look on, but for her goods; abhors the sight of her, to the prejudice of her good name, her own undoing, grief of friends, and ruin of her children.

But to enlarge or illustrate this power and effects of love, is to set a candle in the sun. It rageth with all sorts and conditions of men, yet is most evident among such as are young and lusty, in the flower of their years, nobly descended, high fed, such as live idly, and at ease; and for that cause (which our divines call burning lust) this ferinus insanus amor, this mad and beastly passion, as I have said, is named by our physicians heroical love, and a more honourable title put upon it, Amor nobilis, as Savanarola styles it, because noble men and women make a common practice of it, and are so ordinarily affected with it. Avicenna, lib. 3. Fen, 1. tract. 4. cap. 23. calleth this passion Ilishi, and defines it "to be a disease or melancholy vexation, or anguish of mind, in which a man continually meditates of the beauty, gesture, manners of his mistress, and troubles himself about it:" desiring, (as Savanarola adds) with all intentions and eagerness of mind, "to compass or enjoy her, as commonly hunters trouble themselves about their sports, the covetous about their gold and goods, so is he tormented still about his mistress." Arnoldus Villanovanus, in his book of heroical love, defines it, "a continual cogitation of that which he desires, with a confidence or hope of compassing it;" which definition his commentator cavils at. For continual cogitation is not the genus but a symptom of love; we continually think of that which we hate and abhor, as well as that which we love; and many things we covet and desire, without all hope of attaining. Carolus à Lorme, in his Questions, makes a doubt, An amor sit morbus, whether this heroical love be a disease: Julius Pollux Onomast. lib. 6. cap. 44. determines it. They that are in love are likewise sick; lascivus, salax, lasciviens, et qui in venerem furit, vere est ægrotus, Arnoldus will have it improperly so called, and a malady rather of the body than mind. Tully, in his Tusculans, defines it a furious disease of the mind. Plato, madness itself. Ficinus, his Commentator, cap. 12. a species of madness, "for many have run mad for women," Esdr. iv. 26. But Rhasis "a melancholy passion:" and most physicians make it a species or kind of melancholy (as will appear by the symptoms) , and treat of it apart; whom I mean to imitate, and to discuss it in all his kinds, to examine his several causes, to show his symptoms, indications, prognostics, effect, that so it may be with more facility cured.

The part affected in the meantime, as Arnoldus supposeth, "is the former part of the head for want of moisture," which his Commentator rejects. Langius, med. epist. lib. 1. cap. 24. will have this passion seated in the liver, and to keep residence in the heart, "to proceed first from the eyes so carried by our spirits, and kindled with imagination in the liver and heart;" coget amare jecur, as the saying is. Medium feret per epar, as Cupid in Anacreon. For some such cause belike Homer feigns Titius' liver (who was enamoured of Latona) to be still gnawed by two vultures day and night in hell, "for that young men's bowels thus enamoured, are so continually tormented by love." Gordonius, cap. 2. part. 2. "will have the testicles an immediate subject or cause, the liver an antecedent." Fracastorius agrees in this with Gordonius, inde primitus imaginatio venerea, erectio, &c. titillatissimam partem vocat, ita ut nisi extruso semine gestiens voluptas non cessat, nec assidua veneris recordatio, addit Gnastivinius Comment. 4. Sect. prob. 27. Arist. But properly it is a passion of the brain, as all other melancholy, by reason of corrupt imagination, and so doth Jason Pratensis, c. 19. de morb. cerebri (who writes copiously of this erotical love) , place and reckon it amongst the affections of the brain. Melancthon de anima confutes those that make the liver a part affected, and Guianerius, Tract. 15. cap. 13 et 17. though many put all the affections in the heart, refers it to the brain. Ficinus, cap. 7. in Convivium Platonis, "will have the blood to be the part affected." Jo. Frietagius, cap. 14. noct. med. supposeth all four affected, heart, liver, brain, blood; but the major part concur upon the brain, 'tis imaginatio læsa; and both imagination and reason are misaffected;, because of his corrupt judgment, and continual meditation of that which he desires, he may truly be said to be melancholy. If it be violent, or his disease inveterate, as I have determined in the precedent partitions, both imagination and reason are misaffected, first one, then the other.

 

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