I was personally confounded by how the Greeks came up with the notion of Black Bile
, which unlike the other three humors doesn't immediately strike a modern reader as having any obvious physiological substances to correlate it with.
48) According to medieval medical theory, this anger and heat causes the black bile
to undergo the Hippocratic process of krasis, or "cooking," the result of which is burnt yellow bile and mania, the hallmark of which is violent and even homicidal behavior.
A flux of blood and black bile
was said to cause scirrhus, and black bile
unmixed with blood converted this to karkinds, which was commonly found in the female breast.
A spokeswoman for the John Moores contemporary painting prize said: "The artist tells us the title Black Bile
refers to the time when it was believed melancholia was a physical affliction.
In one of the earliest accounts on the subject, Aristotle associated melancholy with both brilliance and the fluctuating mood between confidence and fear, joy and grief, explaining its cause in terms of the vacillating temperature of the black bile
In truth, it is astonishing to behold, through a remarkable group of works on loan, the longevity of the posture of melancholy in painting, sculpture, and graphic arts across centuries during which the meaning of melancholia was continually reinvented: as frenzy, frustration, or despair; as a malady with natural causes (the imbalance of black bile
, one of the four humors, according to Hippocrates); as a divine affliction and a cosmic source of creative inspiration or genius, and of heroic deeds; as a realm of the tormented psyche populated by demons; as a force of nervous debilitation (first subjected to modern clinical observation during the late nineteenth century by Charcot); as a spiritual or philosophical preoccupation with death.
WE all see too many knackered cars, motorbikes, vans, lorries, taxis and buses vomiting black bile