A MOCKERY OF MELANCHOLY

Curiöse Inaugural Disputation von dem Recht / Natur / Eigenschafften / Privilegiis und Praerogativen des Heut zu Tage bey Hohen und Niedrigen weit und breit regierenden Cornelii, welche unter dem Praesidio durch und durch gelahrten, tieffsinnigen und weitberühmten Herrn Vespasiani Curidemi, omnium facultatum Doctoris & p.t. Collegii Corneliani Vicarii &c. pro Gradu Privilegiis in dignitate A-Corneliorum rite capessendis in Collegio subterraneo, vulgo im Wein-Keller / zur öffentlichen Ventilation wider die Melancholicos darstellet Fabius Jocosus Rufiander Hierosolymitanus, Utriusque Vini ac Cerevisae Candidatus. 

‘Teutschland, Gedruckt in denen Hundes-Tagen, 1716.’ 

8vo, pp. 62; in Latin and German, gothic and Roman letter; lightly toned with a few occasional spots, a few minor wormholes to first and final leaves (touching a few characters without loss of sense, last two leaves with old adhesive tape repair); sewn two-on at an early date on 2 parchment thongs, now disbound.

£675

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Curiöse Inaugural Disputation von dem Recht / Natur / Eigenschafften / Privilegiis und Praerogativen des Heut zu Tage bey Hohen und Niedrigen weit und breit regierenden Cornelii, welche unter dem Praesidio durch und durch gelahrten, tieffsinnigen und weitberühmten Herrn Vespasiani Curidemi, omnium facultatum Doctoris & p.t. Collegii Corneliani Vicarii &c. pro Gradu Privilegiis in dignitate A-Corneliorum rite capessendis in Collegio subterraneo, vulgo im Wein-Keller / zur öffentlichen Ventilation wider die Melancholicos darstellet Fabius Jocosus Rufiander Hierosolymitanus, Utriusque Vini ac Cerevisae Candidatus. 

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First edition, very rare, of this satirical academic disputation on melancholy, dedicated to the author’s ‘unpleasant and universally despised’ peers in the hope of cheering them up (p. [4] trans.). 

Rotmann (1686–1753), presenting himself as a doctoral candidate in the fictitious ‘faculties of Wine and Beer’, takes as his model the 1627 mock-disputation ‘Disputatio de Cornelio et eiusdem natura ac proprietate’ by the pseudonymous Vespasianus Curidemus and dedicates the work to fifteen men – under such humorous epithets as ‘Carolo Melancholico’, ‘Afflicto de Afflictis’, ‘Antonio Langweile’, and ‘Bernardo Trauerkopff’ – who are ‘almost always melancholy, saddened, or surly, and seldom joyful’ (p. [3] trans.). 

Rotmann describes his subjects as suffering from the influence of ‘Cornelius’, a personification of excessive melancholy named in reference to the polymath Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa (1486–1535, who associated melancholy with genius and artistic inspiration), and sees melancholy as tantamount to delusion: his fifty-five theses present increasingly absurd anecdotes on the effects of ‘Cornelius’, among them a man who believed his nose was so large that he refused to walk through doorways and another who held in his urine for fear that it would flood the city.  ‘Cornelius’ is particularly active after evenings of excessive revelry: one professor consumed so much wine at his own soirée that he joined a group of students in smashing his windows and letting his best calf and rooster escape, only coming to his senses the following morning (p. 25). 

Born in Exten, Rotmann received doctorates in civil and church law at the University of Rinteln in 1721 before taking on a role as councillor in Oldenburg, near Bremen; among his other humorous works are Der lustige Philosophus (Rinteln, 1715), Der lustige Poete (s.l., 1718), and Der lustige Jurist (Bremen, 1725).  His library, comprising over almost four thousand volumes primarily on legal and medical history, was sold in July 1751 (Bibliotheca illustris. olim et generosissimi F.J. Rottmanni (1751). 

No copies traced in the UK or US.  OCLC finds four copies only, all of which in Germany. 

VD18 13199323; Erman, Bibliographie der deutschen Universitäten 7516; Popst (ed.), Gesamtverzeichnis des deutschsprachigen Schrifttums 1700-1910 120 (1984), p. 126. 

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