No mention of the medical thought of the time and the significance of colo(u)r therein?
It was my impression that even Shakespeare wanted certain characters wardrobes to appropriately depict the disposition of the related "humour".
(see link for chart)
The Four Humours*:
A traditional theory of physiology in which the state of health--and by extension the state of mind, or character--depended upon a balance among the four elemental fluids: blood, yellow bile, phlegm, and black bile. These were closely allied with the four elements (air, fire, water, and earth). Their correspondence is described as follows:
The "humours" gave off vapors which ascended to the brain; an individual's personal characteristics (physical, mental, moral) were explained by his or her "temperament," or the state of theat person's "humours." The perfect temperament resulted when no one of these humours dominated. By 1600 it was common to use "humour" as a means of classifying characters; knowledge of the humours is not only important to understanding later medieval work, but essential to interpreting Elizabethan drama, especially the late-16th century genre known as the "comedy of humours" (cf. Ben Jonson).
Iirc white would equal:
and the black the slothful, melancholic glutton.
Finally, an illustrative quotation from the final lines of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar (V.v.74-76), in which Antony eulogizes Brutus:
His life was gentle, and the elements
So mix'd in him that Nature might stand up
And say to all the world, "This was a man!"
Last edited by ChenPengFi; 12/21/2010 3:35am at .
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