Dear all,

Words are the key ingredient of the service we provide for you, so we prepared this newsletter in order to take a closer look at some of them.

Welcome to our Shakespeare series on words.
In this series we will present Shakespeare’s words, topics and themes.

In today’s newsletter we will talk about Four Humours, but in a different sense than we know it.

“In early accounts of human physiology, a person’s physical and mental disposition was thought to be governed by a combination of fluids, or humours, within the body. Four humours were recognized: blood, phlegm, choler (also called yellow bile), and melancholy (also called black bile or black choler). The notion transferred readily into a range of senses to do with temperament, mood, inclination, and manner of action, regarded as permanent or alterable features of behaviour. They often referred to a particular facet of behaviour, such as manner of expression. The original physical sense of humour as a physical secretion is also still found in Early Modern English. Good health was thought to come from having the four humours in balance; but characters often display the predominance of one or the other, and their actions are interpreted accordingly.”

“Humour Typical disposition Seen in character Example
blood optimistic, passionate, amorous, courageous Hotspur (as described by his wife) In military rules, humours of blood, / He was the mark and glass, copy and book, / That fashioned others
phlegm dull, indifferent, indolent, apathetic, idle Falstaff and his companions (as described by Prince Hal) I know you all, and will awhile uphold / The unyoked humour of your idleness
choler angry, irascible, bad tempered Cassius (as described by Brutus) Go show your slaves how choleric you are … Must I stand and crouch / Under your testy humour?
melancholy sad, gloomy, sullen, depressed Jaques (as described by Rosalind) They say you are a melancholy fellow.
Jaques: I am so: I do love it better than laughing”

More Shakespeare words can be found at this short and funny video

Traductio Team