Sugar and spice, and everything nice
That’s what little girls are made of.
Snakes and snails, and puppy-dog tails
That’s what little boys are made of.
Folks – some of them smart and educated – used to think that people, and the Universe, were made of some strange things. They thought that all things were made up of four ‘Elements.’ Not elements like carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen and oxygen, but the Elements of Earth, Air, Fire and Water. You can build a fire, but I don’t know how even God could build anything except panic and destruction, from fire.
Having been constructed of the four ‘Elements,’ the human body then somehow related to them with the four humors of Black bile, Blood, Yellow bile, and Phlegm. Our ancestors seemed to be a dour lot, not having any room for silly, playful, happy, or even Woke.
Black bile – Earth – melancholic
Blood – Air – sanguine
Yellow bile – Fire – choleric
Phlegm – Water – phlegmatic
The four humors somehow worked the body through hot, cold, moist, and dry, but in hot/moist, hot/dry, cold/moist, and cold/dry combinations.
The four Humors were also known as the Four Essences, which, at long last, brings us to today’s word.
Having decided that only four Essences comprised and controlled the human existence and behavior, they realized that there were actually times and situations where a Fifth (Latin – quinta) Essence was present, or required – that indefinable, indescribable property that made a genius, a genius, or a great leader, a great leader.
Today’s archaic word was brought to you with a smile, by toast and crab-apple jelly. Wednesday’s post will use more modern words to complain about how “Black Friday” isn’t really over, but like a zombie, keeps lurching onward as Black Friday Weekend, and Black Friday Week sales. Then I’ll really get into character by ranting about all-Christmas carols, all the time, from now till the 25th. 😉