The Anatomy of Melancholy "One Religion Is As True As Another"

Robert Burton

"One Religion Is As True As Another"

Context: Having considered in the first two Partitions of his book the causes and cures of Melancholy, the eccentric bachelor and bookman who wrote it turns in Partition III to "Love-Melancholy." Not only does he parade the world's mad lovers, but his erotic psychology treats with many illustrative anecdotes drawn from his reading the common symptoms of love, from lack of appetite to a frenzy leading to murder or suicide. He gives evidence of the seventeenth century interest in the passionate un-reasonableness of human nature. Partition III, the final section of Anatomy of Melancholy, which its author termed a study of melancholy growing out of love and religion, is chiefly a critique of marriage. Its bachelor compiler quotes twelve reasons in favor of marriage as well as many short synopses of tales of famous lovers of the past. In its final part, Burton proposes that people frightened by a personal Satan and by the Calvinistic doctrines of man's depravity and predestination, cure themselves by thought of a loving and merciful Christian God, or turn, as the Ancients did, to some other belief. He catalogues practitioners of many different beliefs of the Ancients, who considered Christianity as but one of many possible religions.

. . . some of all sorts, good, bad, indifferent, true, false, zealous, Ambidexters (or people who would keep in with both parties), Neutralists, lukewarm Libertines, Atheists, etc. They will see these religious Sectaries agree amongst themselves, be reconciled all, before they will participate with, or believe any. They think in the meantime . . . we Christians adore a person put to death, with no more reason than the barbarous Getae worshipped Zamolxis, the Cilicians Mopsus. the Thebans Amphiaraus, and the Lebadeans Trophonius; one religion is as true as another, new fangled devices, all for human respects; great witted Aristotle's works are as much authentical to them as Scriptures, subtil Seneca's Epistles as Canonical as Saint Paul's, Pindar's Odes as good as the Prophet David's Psalms, Epictetus's Enchiridion equivalent to wise Solomon's Proverbs. . . .