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Tastes of the Mediterranean: Italian Food Before Italy, a pop-up exhibition at the Folger, was open to the public and took place March 31, 2019, from 7-8 pm in the Board Room. This exhibit was curated by Elisa Tersigni.

Items included

Context

The Optic Glass of Humors London: 1607.

Folger call number: STC 24967

Thomas Walkington’s book articulates the theory of the four humors—a theory that early modernists inherited from the teachings of the Ancient Greeks, including Aristotle, Galen, and Hippocrates.

According to this theory, human temperaments were determined by the proportion of four fluids in the body: yellow bile (or choler), blood (or sanguis), phlegm, and black bile (or melancholy). As the diagram here depicts, the humors were each composed of two of four qualities (hot or cold, dry or moist) and one of four elements (earth, air, fire, and water). They were also each associated with one of the four seasons (spring, summer, fall, and winter) and with one of the stages of life (childhood, youth, adulthood, and old age).

Good health was understood as achieving balance between the four humors. Eucrasia (“good mixture”) was the condition of being balanced; dyscrasia (“bad mixture”) was the condition of being unbalanced.