From Inspiration to Imagination: The Physiology of Poetry in Early Modernity.
Just like their colleagues in the arts, men of science often acknowledged poets as imaginative men, and imagination as the mental faculty that specifically permitted poetry writing. This view continued a tradition as old as the physio-psychological theory of the humours and temperaments, one that was assimilated and renewed in the works of physicians and natural philosophers from all over Europe during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. In this regard, the critical literature published in the last ten years on the intersection of medicine and/or natural philosophy in the early modern period with the poetry or drama of the time is both remarkable and abundant. (7) The precise focus of this article is nonetheless different from the approach taken by much of that literature, in that it particularly considers the assumptions of natural philosophers and physicians of the early modern period about the physiology of poetry writing; that is, their views on the physiological profile that predisposed towards the poetic craft or made it possible. The prevailing view at the time was that the faculty of the imagination enabled poetry writing, and that of necessity the poet possesses an exceptionally active imagination. For some authors, the poet is in addition defined by a melancholy temperament, which either comes from birth or evolves over time given the mental requirements of poetry writing, and which ensues from an overdeveloped imagination ultimately conducive to disease or insanity. In constructing a history of the physiology of poetry, the working hypothesis in the pages that follow is that, from the classical theory of divine inspiration, which disregards the workings of the mind of the poet and instead places the creative emphasis upon the inscrutable divine mind, through Renaissance Neoplatonism and its appropriation and reinterpretation of the Aristotelian notion of melancholy, the semantically complex concept of melancholy paved the way for the understanding of poetry, by early modern physicians and natural philosophers, as primarily an activity proper to and derived from the mental faculty of the imagination.
I. From Poetic Inspiration to Neoplatonic Melancholy
The prevalent theory of poetic composition in Ancient Greece was that of poetic inspiration: to wit, the thought that poetry rested utterly on the intervention of divinity. The premise of poetic inspiration raised questions as to how the divine breath or divine spirit came in contact with the poet, and how to assess, from an aesthetic and epistemological point of view, the resulting poetic composition. Democritus does not categorically deny the parenthood of the poet's best works, for in order to compose them, he has to exploit certain faculties to their highest level. Nevertheless, he subjects the performance of such faculties to the powerful stimulus of a supernatural agent who embraces the poet with a special frenzy that induces him to enter a trance similar to that of the furor divinantium ('soothsayers and godly seers'). (8) Plato strengthens the connections between poetry and prophecy and consolidates the idea (traceable to Homer and Hesiod) that the poet vates is born and not made, for techne (art) is no guarantee of worthy poetic creation. (9) In the Phaedrus, Plato presents poetry as a furor, a god-given madness or divine frenzy, and classifies it, along with prophecy, mystery, and love, as one of the four divine furores (deliriums) that make the soul aspire to return to the realm of ideas. Moreover, Plato adds, 'he who without the divine madness comes to the doors of the Muses, confident that he will be a good poet by art, meets with no success, and the poetry of the sane man vanishes into nothingness before that of the inspired madmen'. (10) As in the case of 'soothsayers and godly seers', the 'words of great price' of inspired poets were uttered exclusively under very specific circumstances: when 'they are out of their wits', for 'it is God himself who speaks and addresses us through them'. (11) The theory of divine inspiration is unconcerned about the mind of the poet, who is, after all, merely a medium of divinity and does not need to be gifted with rare mental qualities. Rather, the poet is understood as a vessel for the extraordinarily creative yet impenetrable divinity, and consequently the poet's mind remains a mystery not worth exploring. The predominance of the belief in divine inspiration undoubtedly accounts for the lack of a theory of the poetic mind in ancient thought.
It was in the fifteenth century, via Renaissance Neoplatonism, that poetic inspiration was given renewed credit. Having fully assimilated the idea of Platonic furor, the Florentine humanist and physician, Marsilio Ficino, states that the production of verse and song was owing to divine inspiration, and that poetry was a type of divine frenzy equal to mystery, prophecy, and love. (12) As a translator and commentator of Plato, Ficino conceives of the poet as a passive figure that was often only mediocre. As he explains in Theologia platonica (1482), 'certain wholly unskilled men are enraptured by the Muses precisely because divine providence wishes to declare to mankind that splendid poems are not men's inventions but the gifts of heaven', for 'without God, individual men, even after a long time, can scarcely acquire the individual arts'. (13) Yet, there was a physiological twist in the theory of inspiration put forward by Renaissance Neoplatonists: for them, inspiration went hand-in-hand with black bile or melancholy, which they understood to account for exceptional genius and predispose towards the reception of divine inspiration. (14) Ficino, self-proclaimed 'the first to attend as a physician sick and invalid scholars', (15) argues in De vita libri tres (1482-89) that scholarly activity and melancholy are inseparable, which is most apparent in philosophers: 'of all learned people, those especially are oppressed by black bile, who, being sedulously devoted to the study of philosophy, recall their mind from the body and corporeal things and apply it to incorporeal things.' (16) Ficino explicitly refers to poets, even if only in passing, via a reference to Plato and after a comment on the pseudo-Aristotelian Problem XXX, 1:
This Aristotle confirms in his book of Problems, saying that all these who are renowned in whatever faculty you please have been melancholics. In this he has confirmed that Platonic notion expressed in the book De scientia, that most intelligent people are prone to excitability and madness. Democritus too says no one can ever be intellectually outstanding except those who are deeply excited by some sort of madness. My author Plato in the Phaedrus seems to approve this, saying that without madness one knocks at the doors of poetry in vain. Even if he perhaps intends divine madness to be understood here, nevertheless, according to the physicians, madness of this kind is never incited in anyone else but melancholics. (17)
With these words, Ficino fuses together the Platonic idea of furor and divine inspiration with Aristotle's physiological understanding of intellectual work and ideas on melancholy. As John R. Clark remarks, 'De vita was the first work to give the Platonic notion of the four noble furores--itself restored to the West almost single handedly by Ficino--a medical basis in the melancholic humor or black bile'. (18)
Ficino claims that learned men are especially susceptible to melancholy, either from birth, or because their intellectual efforts and inactivity, 'in the rest of the body', eventually make them secrete 'black bile, which they call melancholy'. (19) Ficino elaborates by saying that scholars are 'made by study into melancholics, owing to causes first celestial, second natural, and third human': that is, Mercury and Saturn, both cold and dry planets, influence 'their followers, learned people' (celestial cause); (20) black bile prevails in the bodily composition of the scholar, which 'forces the investigation to the center of individual subjects, and it carries one to the contemplation of whatever is highest', while that same contemplation 'by a continual recollection and compression, as it were, brings on a nature similar to black bile' (natural cause); (21) finally, 'from this chain of events, the nature of the brain becomes dry and cold, which is known as the earthly and melancholic quality' (human cause). (22) Black bile is thus both a sign of excellence and an unavoidable consequence of scholarly hard work; concurrently, however, it can have pernicious effects upon health. In this regard, Ficino establishes a crucial distinction between the natural, shiny, and unburned kind of melancholy, and 'adust' melancholy, the kind which causes mania:
Any melancholy which arises from adustion, harms the wisdom and the judgment, because when that humor is kindled and burns, it characteristically makes people excited and frenzied, which melancholy the Greeks call mania and we madness. (23)
Ficino names the natural black bile not resulting from combustion candida bilis (i.e., 'shining bile' or 'white bile'); it alone leads to knowledge (iudicium), inspiration, and divine furor: 'Only that black bile which we call natural, therefore, leads us to judgment and wisdom.' (24) Not that Ficino was alone in this praise, for pure black bile had been celebrated by previous authors such as Avicenna, for whom it guaranteed 'very great thoughtfulness and less agitation and frenzy', as compared to impure black bile, (25) and by subsequent ones such as Thomas Walkington, who, drawing on medical literature despite being no physician, affirms the following in his The Optick Glasse of Humors (1607):
according to phisick there bee two kindes of melancholy, the one sequestred from all admixtion, the thickest & driest portion of blood not adust, which is called naturall and runs in the vessels of the blood to be an aliment vnto the parts which are melancholickly qualified, as the bones, grisles, sinewes &c. the other is... a combust black choler mixed with saltish phlegmaticke humor or cholerick, or the worst sanguine. (26)
For Walkington, 'the first kind of melancholy it is euer the worthier and better', the adust 'a losse of wit, wherewith one being affected, either imagins, speakes, or doth any foolish actions, such as are altogether exorbitant from reason'. (27)
Ultimately, De vita libri tres aimed to aid the scholar in maintaining his melancholy temper, for keeping melancholy in place signified avoiding disease, both physical and mental. (28) Ficino's dread of an inordinate melancholy even made him state that learned people would be 'the happiest and wisest of mortals, were they not driven by the bad effects of black bile to depression and even sometimes to folly', (29) as melancholy could make 'the soul sad and fearful'. (30)
II. Melancholy and the Imagination in Early Modern Medical Writings
In the early modern period, the term 'melancholy' could refer to the melancholy humour, more generally to one of the four main temperaments or dispositions based on humoral theory, or to the patho-physiology of the disease, melancholia. Melancholy the disease and complexionate melancholy shared a number of commonalities that could be ultimately ascribed to black bile; yet, the melancholic complexion was not a pathology, even if the individuals that had it were probably more prone to suffering from melancholia than the rest, given the higher levels of black bile in their bodies. As Angus Gowland has rightly remarked, 'one of the problems facing medical writers was the maintenance of an effective distinction between the emotional symptoms resulting from a normal melancholic complexion and those rooted in a melancholic disease'. (31) The French physician, Jacques Ferrand, in his treatise 'Epmropiavia (1623), in fact distinguishes between 'three kinds of Melancholy':
... the first is engendred of Black Choler, collected together in the braine. The second is produced, when as this humor is diffused through the veines generally over all the body: And the last is Flatuous, or Hypocondriacall Melancholy: so called for that the substance of this disease is seated in the Hypocondries, which comprehend the Liver, Spleen, Mesentery, Guts, the veine of the Matrix, and other adjoyning parts; all which may be the seat of Hypocondriacall Melancholy; and not the Orifice of the Stomack only, which was the opinion of the Ancient Physitian Diocles. (32)
In Ferrand's scheme, pathological melancholy was intertwined with black vapours that originated in the stomach and liver, 'which ascending up to the braine, doe hinder and pervert the principall faculties thereof . (33) These vapours were the result of a malfunction of the proper digestion of black bile, which, undigested and heated, rose to the brain in the form of fumes and thus afflicted the subject with melancholy. As Clark Lawlor explains, 'This disorder of the Vapours inevitably affected the imagination, notoriously': 'These vapours disordered the "animal spirits", the supposed medium connecting the mind and the senses and, so the metaphor went, clouding the thoughts and images passing through the brain.' (34) On this subject, Ferrand writes that 'Galen, and all his Sectaries... are of opinion that by reason of the Animall spirits being sullied by those blacke vapours that arise from the Melancholy blood, all objects present themselves to the Imagination in a terrible and fearefull shape'. (35)
Likewise, the French physician, Jourdain Guibelet, asserts in Trois discours philosophiques... le III, de l'humeur melancolique (1603) that 'One cannot doubt that the spirits being obscured by such impurity corrupt the functions of their faculties, and yield false imaginations, and therefore also fear and sadness':
The spirits become black and obscure because of the mixture of some melancholic humour or vapour, or by cold and dry intemperance. Melancholy sits particularly in the brain or in another part communicating with it, or generally all through the body. The vapour is lifted to the brain from a lower part. The intemperance is commonly in the heart, or in the brain. The cold and dry intemperance of the heart when compressed moves to the spirits, removes the subtle and bright parts, and renders them by this means obscure and melancholic, so that they corrupt the imaginative, which causes it to produce only sad and dreadful fantasies. (36)
As a result, then, 'the imaginative cannot receive the species, nor represent them in the soul but untruthfully as soon as the spirits are obscured'. (37) In The Secret Miracles of Nature: In Four Books (1658), Levinus Lemnius is even more specific in noting that for all men, even if they were humorally healthy, there is one time of day, 'from nine in the morning till three in the afternoon', when 'black choler, or melancholique juice doth its office... and sits at helm'. During this time, 'the Liver is cleansed of this grosse humour which is sent to the Milt by nature; hence it is that in those hours the understanding of man is clowded, and his mind is sad, by the dark grosse fumes that arise from thence'. (38)
Of course, there were other explanations for the phenomena that physicians interpreted by means of melancholy. As Gowland remarks, many of the symptoms attributed to a corrupted, wounded, or damaged imagination (the so-called prava or laesa imaginatio) were often attributed instead to the doings of demons and evil spirits; after all, 'for neo-Platonic philosophers, neo-Galenic physicians and demonologists alike, the imagination interacted not only with the physical world, but also with the preternatural and celestial domains'. (39) This theory 'dovetailed neatly with the common assumption that devils were analogically attracted to interfere with complexionate melancholics because of the dark and semi-excremental nature of the black bile predominating in their bodies'. (40) Physicians such as Reginald Scot and John Webster, authors of, respectively, The Discoverie of Witchcraft (1584) and The Displaying of Supposed Witchcraft (1677), had to demystify that these afflictions were produced by supernatural causes or beings rather than by purely physical ones. (41)
Pedro de Mercado, a physician and professor of medicine at the University of Granada, dedicates the sixth dialogue of his Dialogos de flosofa natural y moral (1558) to melancholy. The dialogue opens with a gentleman named Antonio, invaded by fear and sadness ('lleno de temor y tristeza'), (42) who has asked his physician, Joanicio, for advice and a remedy for his melancholic affliction. Joanicio, alleging that Antonio's troubles are not bodily but a matter of conscience, recommends Antonio consult with Basilio, a divine. When presented with Antonio's worries, however, Basilio maintains that melancholy is a physical condition and as such under the jurisdiction of Joanicio's medical knowledge. The dialogue thus considers from all perspectives the nature of melancholy and the various treatments for its negative side. Joanicio, the physician, defines melancholy as a 'corruption of the imagination', 'a moving of the imagination, of its natural course towards fear and sadness, done by the darkness of the clear spirits of the brain'. (43) Furthermore, according to Joanicio, there exists a fine line between melancholy and madness, and that fine line is nothing but the imagination: 'What is melancholy but madness? Melancholic men only differ from the mad in the delivery, because what the mad utter, the melancholic imagine.' (44)
Basilio, the divine, adds after the manner of Ficino that melancholy can eventually overtake an initially non-melancholic man's complexion if he makes sustained use of his imagination: 'honourable men... wishing to preserve their honour and fearing its loss, imagine a thousand usual inconveniences and disasters, plunge into much sadness and excessive care to the point that they turn into melancholics.' (45) Likewise, the role of the imagination in both the physical and the psychological health of patients with melancholic inclinations is stressed in the first work in a vernacular language specifically and entirely devoted to melancholy, Libro de la melancolia (1585), by Andres Velasquez, a Sevillian physician trained at the University of Alcala: (46)
As physicians understand how powerful the imagination is in matters, they advise their patients when grief-stricken not to imagine the illness they suffer, nor do they grant them leave to feel their pulse, but instead try to divert them to consider other issues. (47)
The connection between melancholy and the imagination is similarly acknowledged in A Treatise of Melancholie (1586), by the physician Timothy Bright, appointed in 1585 chief physician to the Royal Hospital of St Bartholomew in London. In his book, published months after the death of one of his children, Bright insists that 'melancholy causeth feare and sorowe of hart, by false imagination, raised through fearefull vapours rising to the braine'. (48) Bright's was one of the many medical treatises of the early modern period that effectively approached melancholia as a dangerous disease that could be treated with a variety of remedies and tempered by following strict diets. Disagreements on diets and treatments aside, sixteenth- and seventeenth-century physicians invariably attached melancholy to the mental faculty of the imagination.
The discussions of melancholy the disease, unfailingly bound with the imagination, regularly match the discourse on the faculty of the imagination in that both melancholy the disease and the imagination were repeatedly accused of generating madness and irrational thoughts. Yet, only a limited number of these medical treatises in fact suggest that melancholy is, via its indisputable association with the mental faculty of the imagination, the exact temperament for poetry writing.
III. Imagination, Melancholy, Poetry, and the Pseudo-Aristotelian Problem XXX, 1
Why is it that all those who have become eminent in philosophy or politics or poetry or the arts are clearly melancholics, and some of them to such an extent as to be affected by diseases caused by black bile? (49)
This question opens the pseudo-Aristotelian Problem XXX, 1 (now commonly ascribed to Theophrastus) and while it formulates that all geniuses are melancholics, it simultaneously implies that melancholy is a physiological prerequisite for genius. Giambattista della Porta echoes such belief in his Humana physiognomonia (1586), where he attempts to establish a correlation between psychological and moral profiles and physiognomy. The tenth chapter of Book I, 'Dell'umor malinconico, de' segni, e de' suoi mirabili effetti', records that those outstanding in literature are melancholics:
In Problems, Aristotle says thus: all men of clear wit that have excelled either in philosophy, in the government of the republic, in the composition of verses, or in various arts, have been melancholics; and therefore all have suffered from the disease of black choler. (50)
But as Winfried Schleiner has pointed out, although the Problem can be seen to provide a purely 'physiological explanation of special abilities',
of course it need not be read that way; while its emphasis is on showing certain physiological conditions, these (to use the scholastic term) did not have to be taken as efficient causes, and melancholy could be understood as only the precondition for divine inspiration. (51)
Semingly supporting this second understanding are the words of Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa in his book on magic, De occulta philosophia libri tres (first dated edition 1533). Agrippa, who practised as a physician, discerns a tendency among melancholy men to appeal to 'celestial spirits' that infuse them with poetic sentiments:
So also there have been many melancholy men at first rude, ignorant, and untractable... who on a sudden were taken with a madness, and became poets, and prophesied wonderful, and divine things, which they themselves scarce understood.... So great also they say the power of melancholy is... that by its force, celestial spirits also are sometimes drawn into men's bodies, by whose presence, and instinct, antiquity testifies men have been made drunk, and spake most wonderful things. And that they think happens under a threefold difference, according to a threefold apprehension of the soul, viz. imaginative, rational, and mental. (52)
It is the melancholy nature of some men then that attracts a type of divine frenzy, which makes them write poetry unthinkingly. For Agrippa, the 'apprehension of the soul' that corresponds to poetry is that which engages the imaginative faculty. If the mind is 'turned wholly into reason' instead, a man will 'become a philosopher, physician, or an excellent orator'; if 'wholly elevated into the understanding', he will learn 'the law of God, the orders of the angels, and such things as belong to the knowledge of things eternal, and salvation of souls'. But 'when the mind is forced with a melancholy humour', Agrippa emphasises, 'any most ignorant man doth presently become an excellent painter, or contriver of buildings'. (53) In other words, divine frenzy enticed by melancholy and operative through the imaginative faculty results in artistic creation. Artists such as Romani Alberti, author of Trattato della nobilta della pittura (1585), would agree with Agrippa that melancholy reinforces the genius of painters, and with Ficino that painters, just like learned scholars, become melancholic (in case they are not already so from birth) as an outcome of the development of their profession:
painters become melancholic because, since they want to imitate, it is necessary that they retain the phantasms fixed in their intellect so that they can later express them in the form in which they had first seen them in reality. And this they do not just once, but time and again, this being their job, and so they have their minds so abstracted and separated from matter that, as a consequence, they fall into melancholy. (54)
The Spanish painter, Francisco Pacheco, teacher and father-in-law of Diego Velazquez, in his treatise El arte de la pintura (written in 1638 yet posthumously published in 1649) likewise explains the art of painting in terms of imagination and melancholy. He does so by means of an allegory borrowed from Cesare Ripa's Iconologia (1611): 'She has curly, loose, black hair for the continuous disordered and vague thoughts of the imitation of art, of nature, and the imagination, in all visible effects: efficient cause of much melancholy, which generates adustion, as physicians say.' (55)
For Robert Burton, well acquainted with Ficino's and Agrippa's work, as his allusions to both in The Anatomy of Melancholy (1621) demonstrate, poetry is the art of the melancholic man. By closely following the remarks of Andre du Laurens, rector of the medical school at Montpellier and physician to Henry IV of France, on the connection between melancholy and poetry contained in his medical treatise Discours de la conservation de la veue (1598), as translated into English by another 'practitioner in phisicke', Richard Surphlet, (56) Burton discusses Problem XXX, 1 and states that Aristotle 'said melancholy men of all others are most witty, which causeth many times a divine ravishment, and a kinde of Enthusiasmus, which stirreth them up to bee excellent Philosophers, Poets, Prophets, &c.'. (57) The nexus between melancholy and poetry for Burton appears manifest in 'Heroical or Love Melancholy', a type of melancholy (properly called love melancholy) that includes, among its positive symptoms, a disposition towards the composition of poetry. The mental power of the imagination participates in this relationship too: 'In Melancholy men this faculty [imagination] is most Powerfull and strong, and often hurts, producing many monstrous and prodigious things', and 'In Poets and Painters Imagination forcibly workes, as appears by their severall fictions'. (58)
Burton and his contemporaries recognised in the imagination a key mental faculty which was extensively discussed in works on physiology and medicine, and generally in discussions on the workings of the human mind. The imagination was one of the internal senses hosted in the different chambers (cellulae) or ventricles (ventriculae) into which the brain was thought to be divided. (59) Notwithstanding the lack of consensus regarding the definite number of internal senses, the imagination (sometimes called phantasy or fancy), together with common sense, reason, and memory were the most frequently mentioned faculties. (60) Most authors of the early modern period would have agreed with the distribution of the mental faculties within the brain that Helkiah Crooke, a physician and anatomist educated at Cambridge and Leiden, explains in his [phrase omitted]: A Description of the Body of Man (1615), the first anatomy in the English language not written by a surgeon but by a physician:
the Imagination being a conception of Images, and accomplished only by reception and simple apprehension, requireth the softer substance of the braine wherein such sensation might be made.... Now the forepart of the braine is the softer, the hindpart the harder, and the middest of a middle constitution; and therefore the Imagination is in the forward ventricles, Ratiotination in the middle, and Memory in the hindmost. (61)
The imagination was in charge of gathering and transforming the sensory perception about the physical world carried out by the external senses into mental images and then handed to reason. Reason judged the mental images true or false, desirable or undesirable, good or evil, and then transmitted them to the will to treat them accordingly; memory would finally store ideas and thoughts. In this scheme, imagination was the image-making faculty that worked with what had been experienced or perceived but was no longer present to the senses. It was also the faculty that, through the combination of real sensorial perceptions, assembled images never even perceived, hence its link to irrationality, deceitfulness, and madness. As Burton explains,
Phantasie, or Imagination... doth more fully examine the Species perceaved by common sense, of things present or absent, and keepes them longer, recalling them to mind againe, or making new of his owne. In time of sleepe this faculty is free, & many times conceaves strange, stupend, absurd shapes, as in sicke men we commonly observe.
Neoplatonists were suspicious of phantasia because of its connection to the body; yet, they accepted it as an intermediary between sense and intellect, and hence, between the sensual world and the higher realm of forms of thought. In Theologia platonica (XIII.3), Ficino explains that imagination is subordinated to perception, and that the imagination is a pathway for the superior world to contact humans through images; (63) in De imaginatione (1501), Giovanni Pico della Mirandola also regards phantasia or imaginatio as located 'on the border between intellect and sense', holding 'the intermediate ground'. (64) Of course, Aristotle had already postulated just this in De anima: inasmuch as phantasia links the soul to the external world by providing the mind with a phantasm (i.e., a mental image), it allows the passage from perception to cognition. (65)
IV. Imagination, Poetry, and Melancholy in Huarte, Lopez Pinciano, Charron, and Bacon
Among the most fully articulated early modern accounts of the connections between the faculty of the imagination and melancholy--which in addition include reflections on the physiology of the poet--are those by the physicians, Juan Huarte de San Juan, Alonso Lopez Pinciano, and Pierre Charron, as well as by Sir Francis Bacon. This selection of two Spaniards, a Frenchman, and an Englishman is illustrative of a shared interest in the subject throughout Western Europe in the sixteenth and the seventeenth centuries. Juan Huarte de San Juan's physiological discussions on the imagination are among the most methodical. In his Examen de ingenios para las ciencias (1575), a bestseller of the period, (66) Huarte correlates mental profiles with specific physiological characters and temperaments drawing on the theories of the Hippocratic and Galenic branches of medicine. He investigates the causes and variety of human wits (i.e., the psychological abilities of an individual), along with the individual's natural aptitudes towards specific sciences, professions, and arts. When it comes to poetry writing, Huarte rejects theories of divine inspiration, overtly rebuffing Plato's views on the subject, while praising Aristotle's stance. In the words of Huarte, as translated into English by Richard Carew in The Examination of Mens Wits (1594),
But that which in this behalf drives me to most wonder is that demanding of Plato how it may come [to] pass that of two sons begotten by one father, one hath the skill of versifying without any other teaching, and the other, toiling in the art of poetry can never beget so much as one verse, he answereth that he who was born a poet is possessed and the other not. In which behalf, Aristotle had good cause to find fault with him, for that he might have reduced this to the temperature as elsewhere he did (116).
Along with the understanding and memory, imagination is for Huarte one of the three faculties of the mind. It is characterised by requiring heat in the brain to work, unlike the understanding, which calls for coldness and dryness, and memory, for moisture. Each mental faculty prepares the mind for particular fields of study and careers. If 'school divinity, the theory of physic, logic, natural and moral philosophy, and the practice of the laws' are sciences of the understanding, to the memory correspond 'Latin, grammar, or of whatsoever other language, the theory of the laws, divinity positive, cosmography, and arithmetic', and from 'a good imagination spring all the arts and sciences', beginning with 'poetry, eloquence, music, and the skill of preaching, the practice of physic, the mathematics, astrology,... the art of warfare, painting, drawing, writing, reading' (156-57). That the physiological roots of poetry are in the imaginative faculty and its defining heat account for the temporary success at versifying that a man usually hopeless at poetry experiences when in love: 'for love heateth and drieth his brain, and these are qualities which quicken the imagination' (164). John Davies's poem to Henry, Prince of Wales, included in his Microcosmos (1603), illustrates that the image of heat spurring the poet's invention was far from uncommon at the time. Davies's 'yong Muse' melts, with her 'quicke hereditary heate', the poet's 'old, cold, rude, and raw' invention, thus freeing his previously frozen thoughts and inspiring him to write. (67)
Given the incompatibility between the heat that poetic composition demands and the coldness requisite for the understanding, Huarte concludes that 'where there resteth much understanding it behoveth of force that there befall want of the imagination, whereto appertaineth the art of versifying' (161). Huarte stresses 'how far off those who have a special gift in poetry are from understanding' (160), and consequently from mastering the disciplines assigned to it:
I hold it then for certain that the boy who will prove of a notable v[e]in for versifying and to whom, upon every slight consideration, consonances offer themselves, shall ordinarily incur hazard not to learn well the Latin tongue, logic, philosophy, physic, school divinity, and the other arts and sciences which appertain to the understanding and to the memory (162).
Predictably, the opposite also happens: when men of understanding take on poetry, they inevitably head for failure, just like Socrates, who 'after he had learned the art of poetry, for all his precepts and rules could not make so much as one verse', and yet, he was 'the wisest man of the world' (162). Indeed, a basic premise of Huartean thought is that if nature has not granted a man the specific mental skills required to learn an activity or a science competently, he wll never manage to become proficient in it, conscientious study and long hours of training notwithstanding. As enunciated by the title of the first chapter of the book,
if a child have not the disposition and [ability] which is requisite for that science whereunto he will addict himself, it is a superfluous labour to be instructed therein by good schoolmasters, to have store of books, and continually to study it (83).
In other words, 'whatsoever scholar will labour to overcome his own untoward nature shall rest vanquished by her' (91). However, so long as one possesses some basic natural qualities, improvement is possible and in such circumstances entirely conditional to the quality of the education received.
Huarte does acknowledge the existence of the rare natural genius that excels in an art or science despite lack of instruction: 'diverse men have begun to study, after their youth was expired, and were instructed by bad teachers with evil order... and yet for all that have proved great clerks' (91). This only occurs with those few endowed with a mental faculty in its highest degree of purity: 'In the third degree [of purity], nature maketh some wits so perfect that they stand not in need of teachers to instruct them' (130-31). Remarkably, poetry specifically demands nothing below this third degree of purity of the imagination, for, as Huarte explains, 'the difference of the imagination to which poetry belongeth is that which requireth three degrees of heat' (161). In other words, whereas for the rest of the arts and the sciences mediocre natural skills compensated and boosted through training sufficed, poetry is particular in that, for the poet to succeed in his craft, his innate abilities cannot be but extraordinary.
Responding to the proposition of Problem XXX, 1, Huarte posits that men with a melancholic temperament display a natural tendency towards poetry writing, and records the anecdote of the citizen of Syracuse who, struck by melancholy, becomes a better poet: 'Mark, a citizen of Syracuse, was a poet in most excellency at such time as through excessive heat of the brain he fell besides himself, and when he returned to a more moderate temperature, he lost his versifying' (115). (68) Huarte's discussion of melancholy and the melancholic temperament is extensive, inextricably linked to the imagination, and interestingly different from that of Ficino and other authors in some respects. Even if Huarte does distinguish two types of melancholy, his understanding of them reverses Ficino's:
there are two species of melancholy: one natural, which is the dross of the blood, whose temperature is cold and dry, accompanied with a substance very gross; this serves not of any value for the wit but maketh men blockish, sluggards, and grinners, because they want imagination. There is another sort which is called choler adust or atrabile, of which Aristotle said that it made man exceeding wise... Sometimes it performeth the effects of heat, lightning the earth, and sometimes it cooleth, but always it is dry and of a very delicate substance.... It hath another quality which much aideth the understanding, namely, that it is clear like the agate stone, with which clearness it giveth light within to the brain and maketh the same to discern well the figures (143-44).
That is, Huarte presents on the one hand a natural kind of melancholy that annuls genius and entails poor imagination given its coldness, and, on the other, melancholy adust or choler adust, which he identifies as the carrier of exceptional attitudes responsible for the ideal combination of great understanding and much imagination: 'melancholy by adustion hath this variety of temperature, namely, cold and dry for the understanding, and heat for the imagination' (188). Melancholy adust therefore made the 'wittiest' men, 'for they have an understanding to know the truth, and a great imagination to be able to persuade the same' (189). (69) It is revealing that in Carew's translation, melancholy adust appears likened to a clear 'agate stone', whereas in the Spanish text, the stone is azabache, that is, jet, distinctive for its black colour. The terminological disagreement is illustrative of two different traditions in the consideration of melancholy. On the one hand, the linkage of jet with melancholy comes from the Arabic tradition, and this is Huarte's understanding of it. (70) On the other, since Carew's is not a direct translation from the Spanish but from Camillo Camilli's 1582 Italian rendering, he follows Camilli's substitution of jet with 'pietra agata' ('agate stone'). (71) Camilli's lexical choice probably obeys a desire to establish a connection with the well-known white bile or candida bilis praised by Ficino. Otherwise, one might speculate, the allusion to a benign natural melancholy described as singularly black might have proved confusing for an Italian readership surely acquainted with Ficino.
In agreement with Huarte regarding his views on the mind of the poet is the physician Alonso Lopez Pinciano. (72) Pinciano published his treatise on poetics, Philosophia antigua poetica (1596), in the wake of Julius Caesar Scaliger's Poetices libri septem (1561), out of the feeling that nothing like Scaliger's work had been produced in Spain despite the success of Spanish letters. The Philosophia consists of thir teen epistles addressed to a Don Gabriel and arranged in dialogues between Pinciano and two neighbours: Fadrique and Hugo, a fellow physician. In the opening epistle, in the middle of a debate on human nature, happiness, and the intellectual capabilities of man, Hugo asserts that the imagination is the most appropriate mental faculty for the production of poetry: 'The instrument of this faculty [the imagination] requires heat with dryness, colleagues of furor, for whose cause it is a highly convenient sense for poetics.' (73) Fadrique later voices his disagreement with Plato's theory of divine furores, and insists that poetry issues from a hot intemperance of the brain:
All my life I have preferred not to go begging to the Heavens the causes of the things I can find here below; and thus these divine furores of Plato leave me unsatisfied.... The poet's is a furious wit, that is to say, naturally inventive and cunning, produced by some hot intemperance of the brain. The poet's head has much of the element of fire, and so it performs inventive and poetic actions. (74)
For the French physician, Pierre Charron, author of the immensely successful De la sagesse (1601)--translated by Samson Lennard into English as Of wisdome (1608?) (75)--imagination is unquestionably the faculty of poetry. To the imagination, Charron attributes 'Fanciful Inventions, Pleasant Conceits, Witty Jests, Sharp Reflections, Ingenious Repartees; Fictions and Fables, Figures and Comparisons, Propriety and Purity of Expression', for which reason, 'we may range under this Division, Poetry, Eloquence, Musick, Correspondence, Harmony, and Proportion'. (76) By adding that prophets are characterised by the same imaginative heat, Charron also provides a physiological explanation for the traditional connection between poetry and prophecy:
The Temperament fittest for the Imagination, i s , Hot, which makes Distracted, Hair-brain'd, and Feverish People, excel all others in bold and lofty Flights of Fancy. Thus Poetry, Divination, and all that depends upon Imagination, were always thought to proceed from a sort of Fury and Inspiration. (77)
Madness and foolishness are also added to the list: 'those who are esteem'd most Excellent in Imagination, are generally... thought near a-kin to Fools or Mad-men.' (78) In his essay, 'De la force de l'imagination' (1580), Charron's close friend, Michel de Montaigne, notably influential upon the physician, assigns similar extraordinary powers to the imagination. (79) He connects these powers to irrationality, superstition, and all sorts of psychosomatic diseases: 'the credit given to miracles, visions, enchantments and such extraordinary events', Montaigne affirms, 'chiefly derives from the power of the imagination'. (80) Montaigne was not Charron's only influence, however, as it is now acknowledged that 'Charron incorporated Huarte's scheme of matching temperament to mental ability into Sagesse and he copied the classifications of vocations according to brain types with a few minor changes'. (81)
Sir Francis Bacon's division of all knowledge into history, philosophy, and poesy in The Advancement of Learning (1605) likewise results in poesy being paired up with the faculty of the imagination, while history is assigned to memory, and philosophy to reason. (82) In Bacon's scheme:
Poesie doth truly referre to the Imagination: which, beeing not tyed to the Lawes of Matter; may at pleasure ioyne that which Nature hath seuered: & seuer that which Nature hath ioyned, and so make vnlawfull Matches & diuorses of things. (83)
Poetry also seems 'to haue some participation of diuinenesse, because it doth raise and erect the Minde', (84) and to be an instrument of faith and of godly illumination. (85) As devisor of a classification of the sciences based on the powers of the rational soul and the epistemological subject, Huarte has been hailed as a forerunner of Bacon. Chronologically, Huarte's influence upon Bacon is possible; nonetheless, not all scholars admit this intellectual debt, and whether Bacon knew Huarte's treatise and used it for his tripartite classification of the sciences is still a matter of controversy. (86)
The well-known Latin saying, Orator ft, poeta nascitur, encapsulates the idea that great poets are naturally endowed with rare skills that are impossible to acquire through training. Natural genius is consequently irreplaceable by means of techne, and poetry impossible to learn or be taught. As Thomas Lodge puts it, 'Poetry is a heauenly gift, a perfit gift' given sparingly to only a few lucky ones. (87) Similarly, according to the Pleiade poet, Thomas Sebillet, 'if God has denied man' the indispensable spark of poetic invention, 'no work nor doing will avail, in spite of Minerva'. (88) In the opening of Abbrege de l'art poetique francois (1565), Pierre de Ronsard states that 'the art of poetry cannot be understood or taught by rules', (89) and likewise Guillaume de Salluste du Bartas in his poem 'L'Uranie' (1574), writes: 'All art is learned through art, only poetry | is purely a heavenly gift.' (90) Emphasis is simultaneously placed, however, upon the appropriate training of the poet, who ought to sharpen the precious natural skills gifted to him. Longinus was a vehement defender of the idea that natural genius had to be reinforced by constant training to exploit the poet's natural capacities. In On the Sublime (1st century CE), intended to teach young students elevation in style through study and imitation of literary models, Longinus warns that, although innate talent and genius (ingenium) largely account for sublime poetic compositions, genius ought to be trained: 'Genius, it is said, is born and does not come of teaching, and the only art for producing it is nature'; yet, 'mere grandeur runs the greatest risk if left to itself without the stay and ballast of scientific method and abandoned to the impetus of uninstructed temerity'. (91) Needless to say, not all poetry theorists considered natural genius the essential requirement for the poetic craft. As Ludovico Castelvetro argues in Poetica d'Aristotele (1570), by no means were poets born, for poetry was the result of the hard work of highly qualified minds that had undergone painstaking training: 'the far better poetry or oratory will be produced by the one with a perfect comprehension of his art, not by the one endowed with a perfect nature.' (92) Previously, Joachim du Bellay in his Deffence et illustration de la langue francaise (1549) had exhorted, 'Do not tell me either that poets are born', for such a statement conceals all the hard work poetry entails: 'Whoever wishes to fly through men's hands and lips must remain in his study a long time.' (93)
Even if early modern theorists of poetics disputed over the weight of education and training in the formation of the poet, they were unanimous in that outstanding poetic creation was produced by extraordinarily gifted individuals with privileged minds. Recognising the existence of innate poetic genius raised questions about the nature of that genius. For physicians and natural philosophers, the answer necessarily had to be physiological, and, as has been seen, it involved both the bodily humour of melancholy and the mental faculty of the imagination, an ally of melancholy itself in its tripartite form of humour, temperament, and disease. Even if melancholy was often understood as the humour that allowed for poetic writing (a view shared by many, including Agrippa, della Porta, and Burton), and even if medical literature defended that melancholy operated thanks to an overly excited imagination (the standpoint of Mercado, Velasquez, Bright, and du Laurens, among others), a number of physicians and natural philosophers eventually dropped melancholy from the equation and chiefly (or solely) attributed poetry to the imagination. Neither Charron nor Bacon discusses melancholy in his treatment of poetry, for instance, and certainly both can be said to represent a decline in the credibility of the theory of melancholic creativity. By the eighteenth century, the term 'melancholy' was in decay, coinciding with questions on the actual existence of any such substance as 'black bile'; the focus shifted instead to the nerves connecting body and brain. In his A New System of the Spleen V apours and Hypochondriack Melancholy (1729), the Welsh physician, Nicholas Robinson, tellingly writes that by then 'the old distemper call'd Melancholy was exchang'd for Vapours, and afterwards for the Hypp, and at last took up the now current appellation of the Spleen'. (94) Gowland confirms that, from the eighteenth century onwards, 'Although the word "melancholy" continued to be used to describe particular forms of nervous disease, far fewer medical treatises included the word in their title'. (95)
Imagination is the reason behind poetic genius in the schemes of Huarte, Lopez Pinciano, Charron, and Bacon. Huarte, as the most exhaustive author on this matter, tries to prove that the figure of the rare natural genius, able to excel in an art or a science despite a lack of instruction, is not a myth but in fact a reality with a physiological raison d'etre. So long as one possesses some basic natural abilities related to a specific field of knowledge, improvement is entirely dependent on the quality of the education received; still, at the same time, it is indisputable that where genius exists, instruction is secondary. What is particularly the case for poetry, from the Huartean point of view, is that the need for genius is greater than for any other art pertaining to the imagination. Even if the claim, poeta nascitur, is not exactly made, it is certainly sustained that, in the specific case of poetry, natural ability ought to be well in excess of that expected for the rest of the arts and the sciences.
University of Granada
(1) John Dryden, 'Annus Mirabilis: The Year of Wonders, 1666', in The W orks of John Dryden. Volume i: Poems 1649-1680, eds Alan Roper and Vinton A. Dearing (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1956), pp. 48-105 (p. 53); John M. Aden ('Dryden and the Imagination: The First Phase', PMLA, 74.1 (1959), 28-40) has carried out a detailed study of Dryden's use of the terms 'invention', 'imagination', 'fancy', 'wit', and 'humour', effectively tracing and discussing the occurrences of these words in Dryden's production up to and through his Essay of Heroic Plays (1672). Aden suggests that between 1664 and 1672, Dryden's concept of literary creation changed and developed towards more pre-Romantic positions. A later study by Robert D. Hume ('Dryden on Creation: "Imagination" in the Later Criticism', Review of English Studies, n.s., 21 (1970), 295-314) focuses on the same topic for Dryden's subsequent production, thus continuing Aden's conceptual research. The Vicerectorat d'Investigacio i Politica Cientifica of the Universitat de Valencia funded a four-month stay at the Hispanic and Luso-Brazilian Literatures and Languages Department of the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY), which allowed me to complete the writing of this article. I am particularly indebted to Professor Jose del Valle. I would also like to acknowledge the feedback received at the international seminar, 'Speaking Pictures: Poetry, the Arts of Discourse, and the Discourse of the Arts in Early Modern England' (held at the University of Huelva in 2014), where I presented the paper that became the embryo of this research.
(2) Philip Sidney, An Apology for Poetry: Or, the Defence of Poesy, ed. Geoffrey Shepherd (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2002) (hereafter Sidney, Defence of Poesy), p. 107.
(3) Sidney, Defence of Poesy, p. 87.
(4) Sidney, Defence of Poesy, p. 90.
(5) Sidney, Defence of Poesy, p. 90. The literature on Sidney's notion of images and the imagination is vast. See, for example, Walter R. Davis, Idea and Act in Elizabethan Fiction (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1969). Davis (p. 37) remarks on the importance of the image within Sidney's theory of poetry, and notes the frequency with which Sidney repeats and makes variations of Plutarch's notion of the poem as an image or picture. See also Lawrence C. Wolfley, 'Sidney's Visual-Didactic Poetics: Some Complexities and Limitations', Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 6 (1976), 217-41 (p. 233); Kathy Eden, Poetic and Legal Fiction in the Aristotelian Tradition (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986), esp. 'The Logic and Psychology of Renaissance Fiction: Sidney's An Apology for Poetry', pp. 157-75; Peter Mack, 'Early Modern Ideas of Imagination: The Rhetorical Tradition', in Imagination in the Later Middle Ages and Early Modern Times, eds Lodi Nauta and Detlev Patzold (Leuven: Peeters, 2004), pp. 59-76; and Michael Mack, Sidney's Poetics: Imitating Creation (Washington: Catholic University of America Press, 2005).
(6) William Rossky, 'Imagination in the English Renaissance: Psychology and Poetic', Studies in the Renaissance, 5 (1958), 49-73.
(7) To give but a few examples, only (or chiefly) dealing with the English context: Mary Thomas Crane, Losing Touch with Nature: Literature and the New Science in Sixteenth-Century England (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2014); Rachel Falconer and Denis Renevey, eds, Medieval and Early Modern Literature, Science and Medicine (Tubingen: Narr, 2013); Richard Sugg, The Smoke of the Soul: Medicine, Physiology and Religion in Early Modern England (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013); Stephen Pender and Nancy S. Struever, eds, Rhetoric and Medicine in Early Modern Europe (Farnham: Ashgate, 2012); Yasmin Haskell, ed., Diseases of the Imagination and Imaginary Disease in the Early Modern Period (Turnhout: Brepols, 2011); Howard Marchitello, The Machine in the Text: Science and Literature in the Age of Shakespeare and Galileo (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011); Kaara L. Peterson, Popular Medicine, Hysterical Disease, and Social Controversy in Shakespeare's England (Farnham: Ashgate, 2010); Todd Howard James Pettigrew, Shakespeare and the Practice of Physic: Medical Narratives on the Early Modern English Stage (Newark: University of Delaware Press, 2007); M. A. Katritzky, Women, Medicine and Theatre, 1500-1750: Literary Mountebanks and Performing Quacks (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2007); Richard Sugg, Murder after Death: Literature and Anatomy in Early Modern England (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2007); William Kerwin, Beyond the Body: The Boundaries of Medicine and English Renaissance Drama (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2005); Stephanie Moss and Kaara L. Peterson, eds, Disease, Diagnosis, and Cure on the Early Modern Stage (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2004); and Elizabeth Spiller, Science, Reading, and Renaissance Literature: The Art of Making Knowledge, 1580-1670 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004).
(8) Luis Gil, Los antiguos y la 'inspiracion' poetica (Madrid: Guadarrama, 1966), p. 36.
(9) E. N. Tigerstedt, 'Plato's Idea of Poetical Inspiration', Commentationes Humanarum Litterarum, 44.2 (1969), 1-78 (p. 72). Even though Democritus and Plato were coupled together from classical Antiquity regarding their theories on inspiration, nowhere is Democritus mentioned in Plato's writings; this has made some scholars doubt Plato's acquaintance with Democritus's theories.
(10) Plato, Euthyphro; Apology; Crito; Phaedo; Phaedrus, eds and trans. Harold North Fowler and W. R. M. Lamb (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999), p. 469 (245a).
(11) Plato, The Statesman; Philebus; Ion, eds and trans. Harold N. Fowler and W. R. M. Lamb (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1962), p. 423 (534c-d).
(12) Ficino discussed the notion of furor in the letter De divino furore, his commentary to the Phaedrus, Theologia platonica (XIII.2), De Amore (VII.14), and the Ion argumentum.
(13) Marsilio Ficino, Platonic Theology, eds James Hankins and William Bowen, trans. Michael J. B. Allen and John Warden, 6 vols (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2001-06), iv (2004), 127.
(14) Perrine Galand-Hallyn and Fernand Hallyn, Poetiques de la Renaissance: Le modele italien, le monde franco-bourguignon et leur heritage en France au XVIe siecle (Geneva: Droz, 2001), p. 127.
(15) Marsilio Ficino, Three Books on Life, eds and trans. Carol V. Kaske and John R. Clark (Binghamton: CEMERS, 1989), p. 109.
(16) Ficino, Three Books on Life, p. 115.
(17) Ficino, Three Books on Life, p. 117.
(18) Carol V. Kaske and John R. Clark, 'Introduction', in Ficino, Three Books on Life, pp. 3-90 (p. 23).
(19) Ficino, Three Books on Life, p. 113.
(20) Ficino, Three Books on Life, p. 113.
(21) Ficino, Three Books on Life, pp. 113-15.
(22) Ficino, Three Books on Life, p. 115.
(23) Ficino, Three Books on Life, p. 117.
(24) Ficino, Three Books on Life, p. 117. See also Teresa Chevrolet, 'La melancolie blanche: physiologies de l'inspiration poetique a la Renaissance', Versants, 26 (1994), 67-94. Chevrolet's article reflects on the implications of 'white' and contextualises Ficino's thought within French Renaissance poetics.
(25) Avicenna, Liber canonis, trans. and cited in Winfried Schleiner, Melancholy, Genius, and Utopia in the Renaissance (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 1991), p. 24.
(26) Thomas Walkington, The Optick Glasse of Humors; Or The Touchstone of a Golden Temperature, or the Philosophers Stone to Make a Golden Temper (London: Printed by John Windet, 1607), fol. 67 r.
(27) Walkington, Optick Glasse of Humors, fols 67v; 69r.
(28) Lawrence Babb, The Elizabethan Malady: A Study of Melancholia in English Literature from 1580 to 1642 (East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 1965); Stanley W. Jackson, Melancholia and Depression: From Hippocratic Times to Modern Times (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1986), p. 100; Schleiner, Melancholy, Genius, and Utopia, p. 25.
(29) Ficino, Three Books on Life, p. 113.
(30) Ficino, Three Books on Life, p. 115.
(31) Angus Gowland, 'The Problem of Early Modern Melancholy', Past & Present, 191 (2006), 77-120 (p. 98).
(32) Jacques Ferrand, [phrase omitted], or A Treatise Discoursing of the Essence, Causes, Symptomes, Prognosticks, and Cure of Love, or Erotique Melancholy, trans. Edmund Chilmead (London: Printed by L. Lichfield, 1640), pp. 25-26.
(33) Ferrand, [phrase omitted], p. 26.
(34) Clark Lawlor, 'Fashionable Melancholy', in Melancholy Experience in Literature of the Long Eighteenth Century: Before Depression, 1660-1800, eds Alan Ingram, Stuart Sim, Clark Lawlor, Richard Terry, John Baker, and Leigh Wetherall Dickson (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), pp 25-53 (p. 28); see also Clark Lawlor, From Melancholia to Prozac: A History of Depression (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), esp. chap. 2, 'Genius and Despair', pp. 41-72.
(35) Ferrand, 'E[rho][omega][tau]o[mu][alpha][upsilon]i[alpha], p. 36.
(36) Jourdain Guibelet, Trois discours philosophiques (Evreux: Antoine le Marie, 1603), sigs K8v-L1r: 'Il ne faut point duter que les esprits esta[n]ts obscurcis de cete impurite, ne corro[m]pent les fonctio[n]s de ses facultez, & produisent des imaginations faulses, & par consequent la peur & la tristesse'; 'Les esprits deuiennent noirs & obscurs a raison du meslange de quelque humeur ou vapeur melancholique, ou par intemperie froide & seiche. La melancholie est ou particulierement au cerueau, ou en quelque autre partie qui luy communique, ou generalement par tout le corps. La vapeur est portee au cerueau d'vne autre partie inferieure. Lintemperie est ordinairement ou au coeur, ou au cerueau. Lintemperie froide & seiche du coeur en comprimant referre les esprits, dechasse les parties subtiles & lumineuses, & les rend par ce moyen obscurs & melancholiques, de maniere qu'... ils corrompent l'imaginatiue... qui cause quelle ne produict que des fantaisies tristes & epouuentables.' Unless otherwise noted, all translations are my own.
(37) Guibelet, Trois discours, sig L1v: 'L'imaginatiue... ne peut receuoir les especes, ny les representer a l'ame que faulsement, lors que les esprits sont obscurcis.'
(38) Levinus Lemnius, The Secret Miracles of Nature: In Four Books (London: Printed by Jo. Streater, 1658), p. 87.
(39) Gowland, 'Problem', p. 91.
(40) Gowland, 'Problem', p. 92.
(41) For more on Renaissance perceptions of the relationship between melancholy and the occult, witchcraft, and demons, see Noel L. Brann, The Debate over the Origin of Genius during the Italian Renaissance: The Theories of Supernatural Frenzy and Natural Melancholy in Accord and in Confict on the Threshold of the Scientifc Revolution (Leiden: Brill, 2002).
(42) Pedro Mercado, Dialogos de philosophia natural y moral (Granada: Hugo de Mena, 1574), sig. P2r.
(43) Mercado, Dialogos, sig. P3v: 'Es una mudanza de la imaginacion, de su curso natural a temor y tristeza, hecha por tiniebla y obscuridad de los spiritus claros de el celebro[;]... corrupcio[n] de la imaginacion.'
(44) Mercado, Dialogos, sig. P4v: 'La misma melancolia q[ue] es sino locura? Y los melancolicos de locos, en sola la pronunciacion se diferencia[n]. Porque lo que pronuncian los locos, imaginan ellos.'
(45) Mercado, Dialogos, sig. Q8v: 'hombres de honra... desseando conservarse en ella: temen perderla e (imaginando mil inconvenientes y desastres, que suelen acaecer) toman demasiada tristeza, y solicitud, hasta hazerse melancolicos.'
(46) Andres Velasquez, Libro de la melancholia, ed. Felice Gambin (Viareggio: Mauro Baroni, 2002). Velasquez wrote Libro de la melancolia particularly as a response to four issues that Juan Huarte de San Juan had discussed in Examen de ingenios para las ciencias (1575): the physiological workings of the brain, natural instincts, the causes of laughter, and the extraordinary capacities of melancholic men.
(47) Velasquez, Libro de la melancholia, p. 96: 'Y de entender los medicos cuan poderosa es la imaginacion en las cosas, aconsejan a sus enfermos, si estan affligidos, que no imaginen en el mal que padescen, ni les dan licencia para se tomar los pulsos, procurando divertirlos a que traten de otras cosas.' For more on Velasquez, see Roger Bartra, Cultura y melancolia: Las enfermedades del alma en la Espana del siglo de oro (Barcelona: Anagrama, 2001). The work by Tomas Murillo y Verlarde, Aprobacion de ingenios, y curacion de hipocondricos, con observaciones y remedios muy particulares (1672), plagiarises the Libro de la melancholia.
(48) Timothy Bright, A Treatise of Melancholy (London: John Windet, 1586), p. 157.
(49) Translation is from Raymond Klibansky, Erwin Panofsky, and Fritz Saxl, Saturn and Melancholy: Studies in the History of Natural Philosophy, Religion and Art (London: Nelson, 1964; repr. Nendeln: Kraus, 1979) (hereafter Saturn and Melancholy), p. 18. For a discussion of 'The Notion of Melancholy and Its Historical Development', see Part I of this work (pp. 3-123); see also Douglas Trevor, The Poetics of Melancholy in Early Modern England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004).
(50) Giambattista della Porta, De humana physiognomonia libri sex, 2 vols (Naples: Edizioni Scientifiche Italiane, 2011-13), I, 39: 'Aristotele ne' Problemi dice cosi: tutti gli uomini che sono stati di chiaro ingegno e che hanno avanzati gli altri o nella filosofia o ne' governi delle Republiche, in compor versi, o in diverse arti, tutti sono stati malanconici; e pero tutti questi sono stati travagliati dai morbi della colera near.' I would like to thank Dr Maria Jose Bertomeu, of the Universitat de Valencia, for her generous help solving various linguistic queries in passages originally in Italian.
(51) Schleiner, Melancholy, Genius, and Utopia, p. 22.
(52) Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa von Nettesheim, Three Books of Occult Philosophy, ed. Donald Tyson, trans. James Freake (St Paul, MN: Llewellyn, 1993), p. 188.
(53) Agrippa, Three Books of Occult Philosophy, p. 189.
(54) Romani Alberti, 'Discorso sulla nobilta della pittura', in Giovanni Bottari, Dialoghi sopra le tre arti del disegno (Parma: Fiaccadori, 1845), p. 285: 'i pittori divengono melancolici, perche volendo loro imitare bisogna, che ritenghino li fantasmati fissi nell' intelletto, accio dipoi li esprimino in quel modo che prima li avevano visti in presenza: E questo non solo una volta, ma continuamente, essendo questo il loro esercizio: per il che talmente tengono la mente astratta, e separata dalla materia che conseguente ne vien la Melancolia.' Bottari, however, attributes the text to the Paggi brothers.
(55) Francisco Pacheco, Arte de la pintura, ed. Bonaventura Bassegoda i Hugas (Madrid: Catedra, 1990), p. 142: 'Tiene los cabellos negros, crespos y sueltos, por los continos revueltos y vagos pensamientos de la imitacion de l'arte de la naturaleza y de la imaginacion, en todos los efetos visibles; causa eficaz de muncha melancolia, que engendra adustion, como dicen los medicos.' For more on melancholy in art, and the artist as a melancholic person, see Rudolf Wittkower, Born under Saturn; the Character and Conduct of Artists: A Documented History from Antiquity to the French Revolution (New York: Norton, 1969).
(56) Andre du Laurens, A Discourse of the Preseruation of the Sight: Of Melancholike Diseases; of Rheumes, and of Old Age, trans. Richard Surphlet (London: Printed by Felix Kingston, 1599).
(57) Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy, eds Thomas C. Faulkner, Nicolas K. Kiessling, and Rhonda L. Blair, 6 vols (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989-2000), I, 400 (Pt I, sec. 3, mem. 1, subs. 3); cf. du Laurens, A Discourse of the Preseruation of the Sight, sig. N3v: '[When melancholy] growth hot, by the vapour of blood, it causeth as it were, a kinde of diuine rauishment, commonly called Enthousiasma, which stirreth men up to plaie the Philosophers, Poets, and also to prophesie.' For more on Burton and the move of medical ideas to literature, see Bridget Gellert Lyons, Voices of Melancholy: Studies in Literary Treatments of Melancholy in Renaissance England (New York: Barnes & Noble, 1971); and Angus Gowland, The W orlds of Renaissance Melancholy: Robert Burton in Context (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006). See also Judith Kegan Gardiner, 'Elizabethan Psychology and Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy', Journal of the History of Ideas, 38 (1977), 373-88; and Karl Josef Holtgen, 'Literary Art and Scientific Method in Robert Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy', Explorations in Renaissance Culture, 16 (1990), 1-36. On love and melancholy from a medical and literary point of view, see Massimo Peri, Malato d'amore. La medicina dei poeti e la poesia dei medici (Messina: Rubbettino, 1996).
(58) Burton, Anatomy of Melancholy, I, 152 (Pt 1, sec. 1, mem. 2, subs. 7).
(59) See Milton Kirchman, Mannerism and Imagination: A Reexamination of Sixteenth-Century Italian Aesthetic (Salzburg: Institut fur Anglistik und Amerikanistik, Universitat Salzburg, 1979), p. 85. Galen argued that thought occurred in brain matter. As Kirchman shows, 'by the early seventeenth century, the belief that thought took place in brain hollows was commonly disregarded'.
(60) Indeed, there was no consistent and unanimously agreed upon theory about the workings of the mind. See Louise C. Turner Forest, 'A Caveat for Critics against Invoking Elizabethan Psychology', PMLA, 61 (1946), 651-72; Lawrence Babb, 'On the Nature of Elizabethan Psychological Literature', in Joseph Quincy Adams: Memorial Studies, eds James Gilmer McManaway, Giles Edwin Dawson, and Edwin E. Willoughby (Washington: Folger Shakespeare Library, 1948), pp. 509-22 (p. 510); Francis R. Johnson, 'Elizabethan Drama and the Elizabethan Science of Psychology', in English Studies Today: Papers Read at the International Conference of University Professors of English Held in Magdalen College Oxford, August 1950, eds C. L. Wrenn and G. Bullough (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1951), pp. 111-19 (p. 111).
(61) Helkiah Crooke, [phrase omitted]: A Description of the Body of Man (London: Printed by William Jaggard, 1615), p. 504.
(62) Burton, Anatomy of Melancholy, I, 152 (Pt I, sec. 1, mem. 2, subs. 7).
(63) Reason can also elevate over fantasy and contemplate that superior realm without any dependence on images.
(64) Giovanni Francesco Pico della Mirandola, On the Imagination, ed. and trans. Harry Caplan (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1930), p. 31.
(65) Aristotle further distinguishes two types of phantasy: phantasia aisthetike refers to the imagination that works only with perception, whereas the superior type of imagination, phantasia bouleutike or logistike, participates in reasoning and deliberating, and in rational animals, it controls the phantasia aisthetike.
(66) For more on the international dimension of Huarte's work and its success, see Rocio G. Sumillera, 'Introduction', in Juan Huarte de San Juan, The Examination of Men's Wits, trans. Richard Carew, ed. Rocio G. Sumillera (London: MHRA, 2014), pp. 1-67 (pp. 23-30). Subsequent page references to this edition are cited in the text. For more on the idea of wit in the early modern period, see William G. Crane, Wit and Rhetoric in the Renaissance (New York: Columbia University Press, 1937).
(67) John Davies, Microcosmos (Oxford: Printed by Joseph Barnes, 1603), pp. 29-30. The full passage is: 'But o! I feele, but with the thought of thee, | My frozen thoughts to melt, as with a Sunne, | Whose comfort Brutes Remayne doth long to see: | And through my Nerues I feele the warme bloud runne | From hart, to braines, to heat invention.'
(68) See Saturn and Melancholy, p. 24. The story of the citizen of Syracuse is phrased in the following terms: 'Many too are subject to fits of exaltation and ecstasy, because this heat is located near the seat of the intellect; and this is how Sibyls and soothsayers arise, and all that are divinely inspired, when they become such not by illness but by natural temperament. Maracus, the Syracusan, was actually a better poet when he was out of his mind.'
(69) Huarte also connected,in specific circumstances, melancholy with disease and mental instability. In this regard, see, for instance, Vicente Peset, 'Las maravillosas facultades de los melancolicos (un tema de psiquiatria renacentista)', Archivos de neurobiologia, 18 (1955), 980-1002.
(70) Felice Gambin, Azabache: el debate sobre la melancolia en la Espana de los Siglos de Oro, trans. Pilar Sanchez Otin (Madrid: Biblioteca Nueva, 2008), pp. 169, 170, 233. For more on the Spanish context, see Teresa Scott Soufas, Melancholy and the Secular Mind in Spanish Golden Age Literature (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1990).
(71) Camillo Camilli, Essame de gl'ingegni de gli huomini per apprender scienze (Venice: Aldus, 1586), sig. F8r.
(72) The impact of Huarte's premises upon Pinciano's ideas on poetry has been well established. See Sanford Shepard, El Pinciano y las teorias literarias del siglo de oro (Madrid: Gredos, 1962).
(73) Alonso Lopez Pinciano, Philosophia antigua poetica, ed. Alfredo Carballo Picazo, 3 vols (Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas, 1953), I, 49: 'El instrume[n]to desta facultad [la imaginacion] pide calor con sequedad, companeros del furor, a cuya causa es un sentido muy co[n]veniente para la poetica.'
(74) Pinciano, Philosophia, pp. 223-24: 'Toda mi vida fui muy amigo de no yr a mendigar al Cielo las causas de las cosas que puedo euer mas aca abaxo; y assi esto destos furores diuinos de Platon no me satisfaze;... Ingenio furioso es el del poeta, que es dezir, vn natural inuentiuo y machinador, causado de alguna destemplanca caliente del celebro. Tiene la cabeca del poeta mucho del elemento del fuego, y assi obra acciones inuentiuas y poeticas.' For more on Pinciano's work, see R. J. Clements, 'Lopez Pinciano's Philosophia Antigua Poetica, and the Spanish Contribution to Renaissance Literary Theory: A Review Article', Hispanic Review, 23 (1955), 48-55; and Fatima Coca Ramirez, 'Los afectos como causa eficiente de la poesia en Alonso Lopez Pinciano', in Humanismo y pervivencia del mundo clasico: homenaje al profesor Antonio Fontan, eds Jose Maria Maestre Maestre, Luis Charlo Brea, and Joaquin Pascual Barea, 5 vols (Alcaniz: Instituto de Estudios Humanisticos, 2002), II, 749-60.
(75) For the English translation history of De la sagesse, see F. Charles-Daubert, 'Charron et l'Angleterre', Recherches sur le XVIIe siecle, 5 (1982), 53-56. Lennard's first translation of the book saw further editions in 1615?, 1620, 1630, 1640, 1651, 1658, and 1670; the work was re-translated by George Stanhope in 1697.
(76) Pierre Charron, Of Wisdom: Three Books, trans. George Stanhope, 3 vols, 3rd edn (London: Printed for J. Tonson and others, 1729), I, 132-33.
(77) Charron, Of Wisdom, pp. 129-30.
(78) Charron, Of Wisdom, pp. 130-31.
(79) Jean Daniel Charron, 'Did Charron Plagiarize Montaigne?', French Review, 34 (1961), 344-51; Floyd Gray, 'Reflexions on Charron's Debt to Montaigne', French Review, 35 (1962), 377-82; Gabriel-Andre Perouse, 'Montaigne et le Dr Huarte: Avec un mot sur Pierre Charron', Bulletin de la Societe des Amis de Montaigne, 8.13-14 (1999), 11-22; Jean-Pierre Cavaille, 'Pierre Charron, "disciple" de Montaigne et "patriarche des pretendus esprits forts"', Montaigne Studies: An Interdisciplinary Forum, 19.1-2 (2007), 29-41.
(80) Michel de Montaigne, The Complete Essays, ed. and trans. M. A. Screech (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1993), pp. 111-12.
(81) Renee Kogel, Pierre Charron (Geneva: Droz, 1972), p. 43. Charron's De la sagesse became the main vehicle for the dissemination of Huarte in France; see also Henry C. Clark, La Rochefoucauld and the Language of Unmasking in Seventeenth-Century France (Geneva: Droz, 1994), p. 42.
(82) See Sachiko Kushukawa, 'Bacon's Classification of Knowledge', in The Cambridge Companion to Bacon, ed. Markku Peltonen (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), pp. 47-74. Bacon distinguishes a total of six psychological faculties: understanding, reason, imagination, memory, will, and appetite. Reason, imagination, and memory are regarded as the chief of these.
(83) Sir Francis Bacon, The Advancement of Learning, ed. Michael Kiernan (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2000), p. 73.
(84) Bacon, Advancement of Learning, pp. 73-74.
(85) For more on Bacon's assessment of poetry, see Murray W. Bundy, 'Bacon's True Opinion of Poetry', Studies in Philology, 27.2 (1930), 244-64 (p. 254); John L. Harrison, 'Bacon's View of Rhetoric, Poetry, and the Imagination', Huntington Library Quarterly, 20.2 (1957), 107-25 (p. 119); O. B. Hardison, English Literary Criticism: The Renaissance (London: Peter Owen, 1967), p. 10; and Brian Vickers, 'Francis Bacon and the Progress of Knowledge', Journal of the History of Ideas, 53 (1992), 495-518 (p. 498).
(86) Among those who acknowledge Bacon's intellectual debt to Huarte, see Gaston Sortais, La philosophie moderne depuis Bacon jusqu'a Leibniz, 2 vols (Paris: P. Lethielleux, 1920-22), I, 351; Marcelino Menendez y Pelayo, La ciencia espanola (Madrid: Victoriano Suarez, 1933); Herman Jean de Vleeschauwer, Autour de la classifcation psychologique des sciences: Juan Huarte de San Juan, Francis Bacon, Pierre Charron, D'Alembert (Pretoria: University of South Africa, 1958), pp. 41-42; Garrido Palazon, 'El Examen de ingenios para las ciencias de Huarte de San Juan y el enciclopedismo retorico y didactico de su tiempo', Revista de Literatura, 61 (1999), 349-73. Among those who deny any such influence, see Jose Mallart, 'Huarte y las modernas corrientes de ordenacion profesional y social', in Estudios de Historia Social de Espana, ed. Carmelo Vinas y Mey, 4 vols (Madrid: CSIC; Instituto Balmes de Sociologia, 1952), II, 113-51; and Grazia Tonelli Olivieri, 'Galen and Francis Bacon: Faculties of the Soul and the Classification of Knowledge', in The Shapes of Knowledge: From the Renaissance to the Enlightenment, eds Donald R. Kelley and Richard Henry Popkin (Dordrecht: Kluwer, 1991), pp. 61-81 (pp. 69, 71-73). Among the sceptics, see Kushukawa, 'Bacon's Classification', p. 52.
(87) Thomas Lodge, A Defence of Poetry, Music and Stage-Plays (London: Printed for the Shakespeare Society, 1853), p. 14.
(88) Thomas Sebillet, 'Art Poetique Francais', in Traites de poetique et de rhetorique de la Renaissance, ed. Francis Goyet (Paris: Librairie Generale Francaise, 1990), pp. 37-183 (p. 58): 'si Dieu a deniee a l'homme, pour neant se travaillera-t-il de dire ou faire en depit de Minerve.' The translation of extracts by Sebillet and Ronsard has been carried out by myself and Rose Delale.
(89) Pierre de Ronsard, 'Abrege de l'Art Poetique Francais', in Traites, ed. Goyet, pp. 465-93 (p. 467): 'l'art de poesie ne se puisse par preceptes comprendre ni enseigner.'
(90) Guillaume de Salluste du Bartas, 'L'Uranie', in The Works of Guillaume de Salluste, Sieur du Bartas: A Critical Edition with Introduction, Commentary, and V ariants, eds Urban Tigner Holmes, Jr, John Coriden Lyons, and Robert White Linker, 3 vols (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1935-40), II (1938), 174-75 (lines 21-24).
(91) Longinus, On the Sublime, ed. and trans. W. H. Fyfe (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999), p. 165 (II.2).
(92) Ludovico Castelvetro, On the Art of Poetry, ed. Andrew Bongiorno (Binghamton: CEMERS, 1984), p. 44.
(93) Joachim du Bellay, 'The Defence and Illustration of the French Language', in Poetry & Language in 16th-Century France: Du Bellay, Ronsard, Sebillet, ed. and trans. Laura Willett (Toronto: CRRS, 2004), pp. 37-96 (pp. 69-70).
(94) Nicholas Robinson, A New System of the Spleen Vapours and Hypochondriack Melancholy Wherein all the Decays of the Nerves and Lownesses of the Spirits are Mechanically Accounted for (London: Printed [by Samuel Aris], 1729), pp. 34-35.
(95) Gowland, 'Problem', p. 113; with Brann (Debate over the Origin of Genius, p. 12), I believe that the 'Renaissance debate over the origin of melancholy genius' illustrates a more general 'critical shift from a primarily theologically founded supernaturalism dominating the medieval mind to a primarily secularly grounded naturalism characterizing the post-Renaissance centuries'.
[Please note: Some non-Latin characters were omitted from this article].
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|Author:||Sumillera, Rocio G.|
|Date:||Sep 1, 2016|
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