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Tag Archives: madness

Giorgio Baglivi, Dissertatio de anatome, morsu et effectibus tarantulae pg. 313

“Those who have been bitten by the tarantula shortly thereafter fall to the ground half-dead, with a loss of strength and senses, with difficult breathing or moaning, often immobile and lifeless. With the beginning of the music, little by little these symptoms are attenuated, and the patient begins to move his fingers, his hands and then his feet, followed by other limbs; as the melodic rhythm becomes more pressing, the movement of his limbs gradually increases. If the patient is lying on the floor, he springs up to start the dance, sighs, and begins to contort himself in very strange ways. These first dances often last two or three hours: and after having rested briefly on the bed to wipe away his perspiration and to restore his strength, the patient resumes dancing with the same vigor. This can take place as many as a dozen times per day. The dances begin around dawn and continue without pause until around one in the afternoon. Sometimes they are compelled to stop, not because of their tiredness, but because they have perceived some dissonance in the musical instruments, a dissonance which, when it is perceived, provokes deep sighs and stabs of pain in the patient’s heart. They sigh and grieve at length until they resume dancing, the harmony having been reestablished. Around midday they rest from the music and dance. They put themselves to bed until their perspiration is over and then they refresh themselves with broth or over light food, given that the very serious lack of appetite which afflicts them would not permit them to take more substantial food. Around one o’clock in the afternoon, or at the latest around 2, they resume their dances with the same vigor. These dances last until evening, whereupon they have another light meal and then finally fall asleep. These dances usually continue for four days; rarely do they go beyond the sixth day. It is uncertain when the end will occur, since many continue to dance until they feel free of the symptoms, which usually takes place after the third or fourth day.” – Giorgio Baglivi, Dissertatio de anatome, morsu et effectibus tarantulae pg. 313

Richard of St.-Victor, Sermones centum 177.1036

“What wickedness takes place during this feast; fortune-tellings, divinations, deceptions and feigned madnesses. On this day, having been seized up by the furies of their bacchant-like ravings and having been inflamed by the fires of diabolical instigation, they flock together to the church and profane the house of god with vain and foolish rhythmic poetry in which sin is not wanting but by all means present, and with evil sayings, laughing and cacophony they disrupt the priest and the whole congregation applauds for the people love these things.” – Richard of St.-Victor, Sermones centum 177.1036

Saint Augustine, Sermon 6.73-76

“I condemn the din of silly and shameful songs, the disgraceful junketing and dances that characterize this false feast day. Are you, who are supposedly Christians, going to join in the celebrations of good luck presents like a Pagan, going to play at dice and get yourself drunk? To do so is to associate with demons, for demons take pleasure in idle songs, in the trifling spectacle, in the manifold indecencies of the theaters, in the mad frenzies of the chariot races. Everything having to do with the Kalends of January is thoroughly Pagan and not fit for a decent Christian.” – Saint Augustine, Sermon 6.73-76

Caesarius of Arles, Sermon 192.24

“During the Kalends of January wretched men, and worse yet, even some who are baptized, don false appearances, monstrous disguises, in which I know not whether they are primarily laughingstocks or rather objects of sorrow. What sensible person indeed could believe that he would find sane people who deliberately transform themselves into the state of wild beasts while playing the stag. Some are clothed in the hide of beasts, others don animal headdresses, rejoicing and exulting if thus they have changed themselves into the likeness of beasts so as not to appear to be men. Now truly, what is this! How vile! That those who are born men dress in women’s clothing and, by the vilest of perversion, sap their manly strength to resemble girls, not blushing to clothe their soldier’s muscles in women’s gowns: they flaunt their bearded faces, and they aim to look just like women. There are those who observe omens during the Kalends of January by refusing to give fire from their house or any other goods to anyone, no matter who asks; yet they accept diabolical gifts from others and give them to others themselves. That night, moreover, some rustics arrange little tables with the many things necessary for eating; they intend that the tables remain arranged like this throughout the night, for they believe that the Kalends of January can do this for them, that throughout the entire year they will continue to hold their feasts amid plenty. I command your household to get rid of these and other practices like them, which would take too long to describe, which are thought by ignorant people to be trifling sins, or none at all; and command your household to observe the Kalends as they do the Kalends of other months. And therefore the saintly fathers of ancient days, considering how most of mankind spent those days in gluttony and lechery, going mad with drunkenness and sacrilegious dancing, ordained throughout the whole world that all the churches should proclaim a public fast, so that wretched men might know that the evil that they brought upon themselves was so great that all the churches are obliged to fast for their sins. In fact, let no one doubt that anyone who shows any kindness to foolish men who lewdly indulging in amusements during those Kalends is himself a sharer of their sins.” – Caesarius of Arles, Sermon 192.24

Louis the Pious, Concilia 2.2.669-70

“There is no doubt that, as many have observed, minds are being infected with certain kinds of trickery and diabolical illusions by means of love potions, foods and amulets, so that, unaware of their own shame, they are considered by many to have succumbed to madness. There are those who claim that they can disturb the air with their spells, bring on hail, foretell the future, take away produce and milk and give it to other people. They are reputed to do countless such things. Whoever, man or women, who is known to be of this sort is to be punished particularly severely for it has been written of such people under title 23 of the Councils of Ancyra: Whoever seeks divinations and follows the customs of the Pagans or introduces such men into his house to find something by witchcraft or to carry out a purification or to avert some omen, he shall fall under the rule of five years’ penance.” – Louis the Pious, Concilia 2.2.669-70

Rabanus Maurus, Homily 44

“A Pagan will drink until he vomits and once he gets himself completely drunk, jumps up like a madman in a frenzy to dance diabolically, leaping about and singing filthy, amorous and lewd verses.” – Rabanus Maurus, Homily 44

The First Vatican Mythographer 19

“Icarius’ dog returned to his daughter, Erigone; she followed his tracks and, when she found her father’s corpse, she ended her life with a noose. Through the mercy of the gods she was restored to life again among the constellations; men call her Virgo. That dog was also placed among the stars. But after some time such a sickness was sent upon the Athenians that their maidens were driven by a certain madness to hang themselves. The oracle responded that this pestilence could be stopped if the corpses of Erigone and Icarius were sought again. These were found nowhere after being sought for a long time. Then, to show their devotedness, and to appear to seek them in another element, the Athenians hung rope from trees. Holding on to this rope, the men were tossed here and there so that they seemed to seek the corpses in the air. But since most were falling from the trees, they decided to make shapes in the likeness of their own faces and hang these in place of themselves. Hence, little masks are called oscilla because in them faces oscillate, that is, move.” – The First Vatican Mythographer 19

CMRDM 1.44

“Great are Artemis Anaeitis and Men Tiamou! When Jucundus got into a manic state and it was being bruited about by all that poison was being given him by Tatias his mother-in-law, Tatias set up a scepter and placed oaths in the temple that she would get her satisfaction about her being talked about in such a blameworthy way. But the gods put her in a  punishment, which she did not escape. Likewise her son Socrates, as he was going through the entrance that leads to the grove, holding a grape-cutting sickle in his hand – it fell on his foot, and thus he was dispatched in same-day punishment. Great then are the gods in Axitta! And they instructed the scepter and oaths which had been made in the temple to be dissolved and for the families of those previously mentioned to be responsible for the dissolving and to propitiate the gods in whatever fashion they desire, and to write the power of the gods on a stele.” – CMRDM 1.44

Lampridius, Vita Antonini Heliogabali 3.4-5; 6.6-7.4

“He established Elagabalus as a god on the Palatine Hill close to the imperial palace and built him a temple, to which he desired to transfer the emblem of the Great Mother, the fire of Vesta, the Palladium, the shields of the Salii, and all that the Romans held sacred, purposing that no god might be worshipped at Rome save only Elagabalus. He declared, furthermore, that the religions of the Jews and the Samaritans and the rites of the Christians must also be transferred to this place, in order that the priesthood of Elagabalus might include the mysteries of every form of worship … He violated the chastity of a Vestal Virgin, and by removing the holy shrines he profaned the sacred rites of the Roman nation. He also desired to extinguish the everlasting fire. In fact, it was his desire to abolish not only the religious ceremonies of the Romans but also those of the whole world, his one wish being that the god Elagabalus should be worshipped everywhere. He even broke into the sanctuary of Vesta, into which only Vestal Virgins and the priests may enter, though himself defiled by every moral stain and in the company of those who had defiled themselves. He also attempted to carry away the sacred shrine, but instead of the true one he seized only an earthenware one, which the Senior Vestal had shown him in an attempt to deceive him, and when he found nothing in it, he threw it down and broke it. The cult, however, did not suffer at his hands, for several shrines had been made, it is said, exactly like the true one, in order that none might ever be able to take this one away. Though this be so, he nevertheless carried away the image which he believed to be the Palladium, and after washing it over with gold he placed it in the temple of his god. He also adopted the worship of the Great Mother and celebrated the rite of the taurobolium; and he carried off her image and the sacred objects which are kept hidden in a secret place. He would toss his head to and fro among the castrated devotees of the goddess, and he infibulated himself, and did all that the eunuch-priests are wont to do; and the image of the goddess which he carried off he placed in the sanctuary of his god. He also celebrated the rite of Salambo with all the wailing and the frenzy of the Syrian cult — thereby foreshadowing his own impending doom. In fact, he asserted that all gods were merely the servants of his god, calling some its chamberlains, others its slaves, and others its attendants for divers purposes.” – Lampridius, Vita Antonini Heliogabali 3.4-5; 6.6-7.4

P.Anastasi 4.56

“I hear that you are neglecting your writing and spending all your time dancing, going from tavern to tavern, always reeking of beer … If only you realized that alcohol is a thing full of evil spirits … You sit in front of the wench, sprinkled with perfume; your garland hangs around your neck and you drum on your paunch; you reel and fall on your belly and are filthied with dirt.” – P.Anastasi 4.56

I.Sardis 19

“List of the decisions reached and of the unholy and loathesome Hellenes banished by Hyperechius, the highly esteemed judicial officer and imperial judge … -ipsos was banished for ten years … was … to the hospital for the insane …” – I.Sardis 19

Gregory of Nyssa, De Deitate Filii et Spiritus Sancti 46.557

“As in the days when Paul visited the Athenians, there are many amongst us who spend all their time doing nothing else except discussing and listening to new ideas that came about yesterday or a little earlier perhaps; craftsmen offhand pontificating about theology, servants and slaves and fugitives from domestic service grandly philosophizing to us about matters far beyond them and difficult for even the greatest minds to understand. You know whom this sermon is addressed to: everywhere throughout the city is full of such things. The alleys, the squares, the thoroughfares, the residential quarters; among cloak salesmen, those in charge of the money changing tables, those even who sell us our food. For if you ask about change, they philosophize to you about the Begotten and the Unbegotten. And if you ask about the price of bread, the reply is ‘The Father is greater, and the Son is subject to him.’ If you say, ‘Is the bath ready?’ they declare the son has his being from the non-existent. I am not sure what this evil should be called – inflammation of the brain or madness, or some sort of epidemic disease which contrives the derangement of reasoning.” – Gregory of Nyssa, De Deitate Filii et Spiritus Sancti 46.557

P. Leiden 1.371

“To the able spirit Ankhiry: What have I done against you wrongfully for you to get into this evil disposition in which you are? What have I done against you? As for what you have done, it is your laying hands on me even though I committed no wrong against you. From the time that I was living with you as a husband until today, what have I done against you? I took you for a wife when I was a youth so that I was with you while I was functioning in every office and you were with me. I did not divorce you, nor did I cause you to be vexed. And when your friends came over, I received them well out of consideration for you, saying, ‘I will do according to your desire.’ I concealed nothing at all from you during your lifetime. I did not let you suffer any discomfort in anything I did, nor did you find me cheating on you after the manner of a field hand, entering a strange house. Now look, you aren’t letting my mind be at ease. I shall litigate with you, and right shall be distinguished from wrong. You are disregarding how well I have treated you. I am writing you to make you aware of the things you are doing. When you became ill with the disease which you contracted, I sent for a chief physician, and he treated you. When I was away on business for the Pharaoh, l.p.h., this condition (i.e. death) befell you, and I spent several months without eating or drinking like a normal person. When I arrived in Memphis I begged leave of Pharaoh, l.p.h., and came to where you were. And I and my people wept sorely before your body. I gave clothing of fine linen to wrap you up in and had many clothes made. I overlooked nothing good that needed to be done for you. Now look, I’ve spent these last three years without entering another house, although it is not proper for one of my position to do this, nor have I entered into any of the sisters of the house (sexually). I have done this out of consideration for you, so why are you doing this to me? One will judge between you and me.” – P. Leiden I 371

Anonymous, Akhbar Al-Zaman 172-74

“It was found in some of the holy books of the Egyptian priests that king Budshir bin Qfitwim exhausted himself in the worship of the luminous heavenly bodies to the point where their spirits entered into him. He became infatuated with these spirits and starved himself; his body gave up food and drink. When he became ecstatic the spirits desired him as he desired them, so they raised him up to their place and purified him of all painful evils of earth and made him a heavenly spirit, floating within their luminosity and able to do as they did.” – Anonymous, Akhbar Al-Zaman 172-74

Anonymous, Akhbar Al-Zaman 169

“King Menqaus built a temple with statues that cure all illnesses and wrote on top of the shrine of every statue what it would cure, so people benefited from this temple for a time until some kings spoiled. Another king, Shasta, cared so much for the health of his people that in every city he erected a statue of a woman which people suffering from depression could visit. As soon as a depressed person sees it, he smiles and forgets all his care. People hold it circumambulate it. At a later date they worshiped her.” – Anonymous, Akhbar Al-Zaman 169

Maximus of Turin, Sermon 107

“Some days ago I admonished your charity, brethren, that as holy and religious men, you should remove all pollution of idols from your properties and cast out the whole error of Paganism from your fields. For it is not right that you, who have Christ in your hearts, should have Antichrist in your houses; that your men should honor the devil in his shrines while you pray to god in church. And let no one think he is excused by saying, ‘I did not order this, I did not command it.’ Whoever knows that sacrilege takes place on his estate and does not forbid it, in a sense orders it. By keeping silence and not reproving the man who sacrifices, he lends his consent. For the blessed apostle states that not only those who do sinful acts are guilty, but also those who consent to the act. You, therefore, brother, when you observe your peasant sacrificing and do not forbid the offering, sin, because even if you did not assist the sacrifice yourself you gave permission for it. If your order was not behind the crime your will is still to blame. As long as you remain silent, what your peasant does pleases you: if he did not act in this way perhaps he would displease you. So the subject does not merely involve himself in sin when he sacrifices, he also involves his lord, who does not forbid him; if he had done so neither would have sinned. Idolatry is a great evil. It pollutes those who practice it. It pollutes the inhabitants of the region. It pollutes those who look on. It penetrates its ministers, it penetrates those who know of it and those who keep silent. The peasant’s offering defiles the lord of the land. He cannot not be polluted when he eats food gathered by sacrilegious hands, brought forth by earth stained with blood, stored in foul barns. For all things are defiled, all are abominable, where the devils dwell, whether houses, fields or peasants. There is nothing free from evil where everything is steeped in evil. If you entered a rustic shrine you would find there bleaching sods and dead coals – a worthy devil’s sacrifice when a dead god is worshiped with dead things. And if you went into the fields you would see wooden altars and stone images, suitable to a rite in which insensible gods are served at moldering altars. If you woke up earlier than you usually do you would see a rustic reeling with wine. You ought to know that he is what they call either a devotee of Diana, one who is epileptic or made mad by the moon, or a soothsayer. For a god who makes mad usually has a frantic priest. Such a priest prepares himself with wine for his goddess’ blows, so that, being drunk, the wretch may not feel his punishment. They do this not only out of intemperance but by design, so that, buoyed up by wine, they may feel less pain. The seer who thinks piety is intensified by cruelty is wholly useless. How merciful his god must be to others who is so cruel to his priests! To sketch briefly this seer’s dress. He has a shaggy head with long hair. His breast is bare, he has a cloth half round his loins, and like a gladiator prepared for combat, he brandishes a weapon in his hand. But he is worse than a gladiator, for he is forced to fight against another man, whereas this fellow has to fight against himself. The gladiator strikes at others’ guts, this man tears his own limbs to pieces, and if one can say this, as his trainer works on the gladiator, so his god urges this man on to self-flagellation. Wrapped in this dress, bloody with his self-slaughter, judge for yourselves whether he is a gladiator or a priest! As the public outrage of gladiators has been removed by the religious piety of our princes, these gladiators of insanity should be removed by Christians from their own dwellings.” – Maximus of Turin, Sermon 107

Plutarch, On Isis and Osiris 353e-c

“As for wine, those who serve the god in Heliopolis bring none at all into the shrine, since they feel that it is not seemly to drink in the day-time while their Lord and King is looking upon them. The others use wine, but in great moderation. They have many periods of holy living when wine is prohibited, and in these they spend their time exclusively in studying, learning, and teaching religious matters. Their kings also were wont to drink a limited quantity prescribed by the sacred writings, as Hecataeus has recorded; and the kings are priests. The beginning of their drinking dates from the reign of Psammetichus; before that they did not drink wine nor use it in libation as something dear to the gods, thinking it to be the blood of those who had once battled against the gods, and from whom, when they had fallen and had become commingled with the earth, they believed vines to have sprung. This is the reason why drunkenness drives men out of their senses and crazes them, inasmuch as they are then filled with the blood of their forbears. These tales Eudoxus says in the second book of his World Travels are thus related by the priests.” – Plutarch, On Isis and Osiris 353e-c

Diodoros Sikeliotis, Library of History 4.3.2-5

“And the Boiotians and other Greeks and the Thracians, in memory of the campaign in India, have established sacrifices every other year to Dionysos, and believe that at that time the god reveals himself to human beings. Consequently in many Greek cities every other year Bacchic bands of women gather, and it is lawful for the maidens to carry the thyrsos and to join in the frenzied revelry, crying out ‘Euai!’ and honouring the god; while the matrons, forming in groups, offer sacrifices to the god and celebrate his mysteries and, in general, extol with hymns the presence of Dionysos, in this manner acting the parts of maenads who, as history records, were of old the companions of the god. He also punished here and there throughout all the inhabited world many men who were thought impious, the most renowned among the number being Pentheus and Lykourgos. And since the discovery of wine and the gift of it and because of the greater vigour which comes to the bodies of those who partake of it, it is the custom, they say, when unmixed wine is served during a meal to greet it with the words, ‘To the Good Deity!’ but when the cup is passed around after the meal diluted with water, to cry out ‘To Zeus Saviour!’ For the drinking of unmixed wine results in a state of madness, but when it is mixed with the rain from Zeus the delight and pleasure continue, but the ill effect of madness and stupor is avoided.” – Diodoros Sikeliotis, Library of History 4.3.2-5

Plato, Ion 533e-534b

“For all good poets, epic as well as lyric, compose their beautiful poems not by art, but because they are inspired and possessed. And as the Corybantic revellers when they dance are not in their right mind, so the lyric poets are not in their right mind when they are composing their beautiful strains: but when falling under the power of music and metre they are inspired and possessed; like Bacchic maidens who draw milk and honey from the rivers when they are under the influence of Dionysos but not when they are in their right mind. And the soul of the lyric poet does the same, as they themselves say; for they tell us that they bring songs from honeyed fountains, culling them out of the gardens and dells of the Muses; they, like the bees, winging their way from flower to flower. And this is true. For the poet is a light and winged and holy thing, and there is no invention in him until he has been inspired and is out of his senses, and the mind is no longer in him: when he has not attained to this state, he is powerless and is unable to utter his oracles.” – Plato, Ion 533e-534b

Athenaios, Deipnosophistai 2.37

“At a festival of Dionysos once a group of young men were drinking and became so wild when overheated by the liquor that they imagined they were sailing in a trireme, and that they were in a bad storm on the ocean. Finally they completely lost their senses, and tossed all the furniture and bedding out of the house as though upon the waters, convinced that the pilot directed them to lighten the ship because of the raging storm. Well, a great crowd gathered and began to carry off the jetsam, but even then the youngsters did not cease from their mad actions. The next day the military authorities appeared at the house and made a complaint against the young men when they were still half-seas over. To the questions of the magistrates they answered that they had been much put to it by a storm and had been compelled to throw into the sea the superfluous cargo. When the authorities expressed surprise at their insanity, one of the young men, though he appeared to be the eldest of the company, said to them: ‘Ye Tritons, I was so frightened that I threw myself into the lowest possible place in the hold and lay there.’ The magistrates, therefore, pardoned their delirium, but sentenced them never to drink too much and let them go” – Athenaios, Deipnosophistai 2.37

SEG 26. 524

“The madman shall exit the oracle.” – SEG 26. 524

BIWK 57

“Because Trophime, daughter of Artemidoros, also known as Kikinnas, had been asked by the god to fulfil a service and refused to come quickly, the god punished her and made her insane. Now, she asked Meter Tarsene and Apollo Tarsios and Mes Artemidorou Axiottenos, who rules over Koresa. And the god ordered me to register myself for sacred service.” – BIWK 57

Lucian, How to Write History

“There is a story of a curious epidemic at Abdera, just after the accession of King Lysimachus. It began with the whole population’s exhibiting feverish symptoms, strongly marked and consistent from the very first attack. About the seventh day, the fever was relieved, in some cases by a violent flow of blood from the nose, in others by perspiration no less violent. The mental effects, however, were most ridiculous; they were all stage-struck, mouthing blank verse and ranting at the top of their voices. Their favourite recitation was the Andromeda of Euripides; one after another would go through the great speech of Perseus; the whole place was full of pale ghosts, who were our seventh-day tragedians vociferating: ‘O Love, who lord’st it over gods and men…’ and the rest of it. This continued for some time, till the coming of winter put an end to their madness with a sharp frost. I find the explanation of the form the madness took in this fact: Archelaus was then the great tragic actor, and in the middle of the summer, during some very hot weather, he had played the Andromeda in Abdera; most of them took the fever in the theatre, and convalescence was followed by a relapse – into tragedy, the Andromeda haunting their memories.” – Lucian, How to Write History