Keck's AnnotationsSir Thomas Browne PageReligio MediciDigby's Observations

Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Natural Questions, Book I, Chapter XVI

Translated by Tho. Lodge (1614)

IN this place I will tell thee a storie, to the end thou mayest understand that Lust forgetteth not any instrument to provoke his desire, but is diligent and igenious to excite his own fury. There was a man called Hostius so uncleanly and villainous, that he was not ashamed to make shew of his scurrilitie and filthinesse in the publique Theater. This rich and covetous wretch was owner of two millions and five hundred thousand crowns; yet Divus Cæsar after that his slaves had murthered him, iudged that hee was unworthy that any man should revenge his death, & yet notwithstanding would he not declare that he was iustly slaine. He was not only impure in respect of one sex, but he surfetted in his lust both towards men & women, and made certain mirrors of that fashion, whereof I late made mention, that shewed the images of men far greater then they were, wherein one finger exceeded the arm in measure, length, and thicknesse. These did he dispose in such sort that when he endured the company of men,, he saw in the mirrour all the execrable motions of him he had admitted, enjoying by this meanes a false greatnesse of their members, as if it had been true. In all bathes he made his choyse, and chose him by the open measure of their length, yet notwithstanding delighted he his insatiable lusts with fained appearances also. Goe now and say, that looking-glasses were invented for cleannesse sake. It is shamefull to be spoken, what this Monster (worthy to be torne with his owne teeth) both spake and did; when as on every side mirrors were opposed against him, to the end he might bee a beholder of his own haynous villaynies. And those things which a secret conscience would suppresse, and such as any one being accused thereof, would be ashamed to confesse: these thrust he not onely into his mouth, but into his eyes. But undoubtedly, haynous sinnes are afraid to behold themselves. The most desperate villaines, and they that are disposed to all dishonour, feele that the tendernesse of shame easily seizeth their eyes. But this man, as it were a trifle to suffer things unheard of, and unknowne in his owne person, hath made them come before his sight, and was not onely contented to see the greatenesse of his sinne, but thought good to plant about himselfe his mirrors, whereby he divided, and disposed his villainies. And because he could not so diligently observe and see, at such time as he was seized upon, and his head hidden, and his body tyed to the shamefull part of some villaynous Buggerer, hee represented his monstrous action to himselfe by resemblances: he saw in his mirrors the surquedrie of his mouth, he beheld men whom he received upon all parts of his body. Sometimes dividing himselfe betwixt a man and a woman, and abandoning his person to suffer both wayes, he beheld those villainies which a man durst not either imagine or name. What hath this impure catife left himselfe to doe in the darkenesse? Hee feared not the day, and durst shew himselfe those monstrous embracements, and approve them unto himselfe. What? doest thou thinke that he would not be painted in that habit? There is some modestie in those that are prostitutes and harlots, and they cover in some sort those bodies of theirs, which are the objects of publike disgrace, whereby their unhappy patience may lie hidde, so that in some sort the very Brothel-house hath modestie in it. But that Monster made a publike spectacle of his uncleannesse, and shewed those things to himselfe, to cover and hide which no night were darke enough. I, saith hee, endure both a man and a woman at once, and notwithstanding in that part also which is left mee to some disgrace, I exercise the part of a man. All my members are exercised in palliardise; it is therefore requisite that mine eyes should have their part, and that they should be witnesses and controllers. Even those things which by situation are hidden from the sight of our bodies, are visited by art, lest any man should thinke that I know not what I doe: Nature did nothing when shee gave a man so feeble instruments to execute his lusts, and when shee hath learned bruit beasts a more perfect contentment in their encountries. I will find a meanes how I may deceive and satisfie my infirmitie; whereto should my iniquitie serve me, if I should not sinne more then Nature hath taught me? I will set these kind of mirrors about mee, that may present an incredible greatnesse of formes. If I might have libertie I would make them truely as great, and because I may not, I will feed my selfe with the similitude; my villanie shall see more than it can conceive, and shall admire at his own patience. O detestable wickednesse! this man perchance was killed quickly, and before he saw these things. He deserved to be massacred before his mirror.

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