Dialogue on the Threshold

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Sunday, 4 July 2010

Melancholicorum risus

Georgio de Chirico, Mélancolie (1912)


Qua de caussa Melancholicorum risus rarior ille quidem, sed immoderatus esse solet?

Certum est: sicut iracundia non est in felle, cuius conceptaculum est in folliculo cavae parti hepatis adnascenti: Ita risum & facultatem ridendis etiam in splene non esse. Splen enim tam destinatus est a natura ad recipiendum ab hepate melancholicum sanguinem & excrementum: Melancholicus autem humor risui, sicut gaudio inimicus est. Risus igitur in ea parte non esse potest, in qua hic humor abundat. Unde igitur est, quod melancholicos effusius ridere contingit? Responsio vera ad hanc quaestionem haec est: Melancholici seu quorum sanguis valde melancholicus & crassus est, ut rariuscule rident, quia sunt natura frigidiores, ita incalescente humore melancholico, si quando in risum erumpunt, in hoc saepiuscule sunt nimii seu solent modum excedere, ob iam dictam calefactionem adventitiam.

Rodolphi Gocklenii De risu et ridiculo problemata (Frankfurt, 1607), cap. xvi

By what cause is the laughter of melancholics wont to be infrequent but immoderate?

It is certain that just as irascibility does not reside in the gall, whose receptacle is in the sac adjoined to the hollow part of the liver, so too laughing and the faculty of laughter do not reside in the spleen. For the spleen is designed by nature to collect melancholic blood and waste from the liver. But the melancholic humour is inimical to laughter, the same as to joy. Therefore laughter cannot reside in that part where this humour abounds. And so why is it that melancholics are seized with unrestrained laughter? The real answer to this question is that melancholics or those whose blood is exceedingly melancholic and incrassate very rarely laugh, because they are colder by nature, and so once the melancholic humour has been inflamed, if they burst out laughing they are very often excessive in this or wont to be immoderate, because of the said heating of the connective tissue.

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