Thursday, August 06, 2015

The First Ball That Ever Was Made

Page 452 of THE ANATOMY OF MELANCHOLY and I'm less than halfway through. On the bright side, we've moved on to the part where he tells you how to get rid of melancholy. Games are good therapy. Burton likes "Keelpins, trunks, quoits, pitching bars, hurling, wrestling, leaping, running, fencing, mustering, swimming, wasters, foils, foot-ball, balloon, quintain, &c." He even tentatively identifies the inventor of the ball: "Aganella, a fair maid of Corcyra," who "presented the first ball that ever was made to Nausicaa, the daughter of King Alcinous, and taught her how to use it." Burton recommends chess, with caveats: "it is a game too troublesome for some men's brains, too full of anxiety... besides, it is a testy cholerick game, and very offensive to him that loseth the Mate." He goes on to tell about the time William the Conqueror lost at chess to the Prince of France and "knocked the Chess-board about his pate, which was a cause afterwards of much enmity between them."