chapter  II
3 Pages


The Latin noun umor denotes moisture. Although this meaning has been lost from the modern English noun humour, we do not have to go further than its adjectival form, humid, to find it again. This helps us conceptualize the fundamental link between the fluids in our bodies and our health and disposition – ‘constitution’ or ‘complection’1

– which was the crucial medical paradigm of civilized Europe and Asia for almost 20 centuries and the basis for pre-modern medical practice and theories of mind. As humoral theory offers a framework to imagine bodily liquids as causes of emotions and emotional manifestations and behaviours, it is of particular importance for the discipline of the history of emotions.