Saturday, November 8, 2014

More About Humors

In class I talked a little about the four humors: yellow bile, black bile, blood, and phlegm. Due to a lack of time, I did not get to say some things I found about them, so I am presenting them here. 

(1) I wanted to say more about the correlation between the structure of the human body and that of the universe. As the universe is made up of elements, so too are we made up of the humors. To be more specific, blood (sanguine) is our air, phlegm (phlegmatic) our water, yellow bile (choleric) our fire, and black bile (melancholic) our earth. 

(2) There is also a sort of order of importance to the humors that I found interesting, as blood is highest, then phlegm, then yellow bile, and finally black bile. The ordering of the blood and black bile were particularly interesting because of their elemental representations of air and earth respectively. It makes sense that blood and air would be higher than black bile and earth because the Elizabethans considered their reason and knowledge to be of utmost importance. Knowledge an reason, as I explained in class, is a faculty found in only three beings: God (of course), the angels, who are born with both, and humans, who have to nurture them. Because God and the angles are often considered to be above us and in the air, they thought blood was the most rich humor, while black bile, representing earth, was the least rich, because the people were always trying to become more angelic. 

(3) I wanted to explain how the how the humors affect the human body. Each humor represents a certain attitude or perspective. For example, blood is sanguine, which means optimistic, even in difficult times. Every individual holds a different mixture of the humors and the amount of each humor is different each time. So, if a person had more phlegm, then they would most likely be calm and rather unemotional. 

(4) Humors are not always constant and can, in fact, be burnt or putrefy. These "ruined" humors can effect the body by causing illness or fatigue and, overall, are a hindrance.

1 comment:

Breuna Westry said...

I always think that it is interesting that earth is thought of as the least favorable even though it is our home. A person wants less black bile because they want to relieve themselves of earth. Be more like the heavens.