MC's Whispers

Whispering Silences

The art of writing

writing2If there is an elegance in knowing how to speak, there is a charm in knowing how to write. In being able to express the thoughts that swivel in your mind, into words, phrases, sentences. Giving them meaning to paint an image to the outsider, enabling him/her to witness with their own eyes a fraction of your very being.
Being able to write is a gift, a talent, a skill.

In an age when we are constantly busy with something, and never have enough time for anything, possessing good writing skills is a trait few truly have. For, from a very young age, we are taught that reading and writing are intrinsically linked. They are two skills that you learn simultaneously. Today, we spend most of our precious daily time skim reading texts of all sorts. We have no time to waste. If the first few sentences do not grip your interest immediately, the text is not deemed worthy of your attention. So being a good writer becomes all the more important. You need to invite the reader in, to arouse their attention, raise an issue of common interest to them, welcome them into your stream of words, and grasp them so tightly that they would want to stay along for the entire ride. And if you are exceptionally good, you will leave them with an afterthought, having awakened inside of them their spirit of curiosity, of questioning, of bewilderment for the very world we live in. It is true that nowadays we speed read all the more, but that does not necessarily mean we should also skim write.

Think about the books you read. There are some that you can literally not put down. Not even when you feel your bladder so full it is pressing against your stomach, and you’re dancing around on your seat, trying to finish one more line, one more sentence, one more page, before you have to race to the bathroom like a mouse on fire. But there are others that actually put you to sleep after just one or two pages. It might not necessarily be just the plot at fault. It is the way the plot is written. The descriptions, the narrative, the tone. It is no wonder, therefore, that the best books you read – those that remain with you long after – are the ones in which the flow of words can reach deep into your soul, caress every atom of your being, and so thoroughly describe every emotion you feel to the extent that you experience a hair-raising chill down your spine. The most memorable texts are indeed the ones that so vividly describe exactly what they make you feel. The ones that help you embark on a rollercoaster of emotions, of racing heartbeats, and of sighs of relief.

Knowing how to write is more than a dexterity. It is an art. And like many others, everyone claims to know how to do it. But few truly do it well.

Head in the clouds

flying over clouds and rainbowYou know that expression “you’ve got your head in the clouds”? Well, some people actually do. Like Jazmin.

It was only natural she would become an air stewardess, as her father was a successful pilot and she often exploited the free travels she received as part of the perks of being a pilot’s daughter. By the time she was eight she had already set foot in all continents and was the youngest frequent flyer the airline had ever seen.

It was a logical aftermath, therefore, that Jazmin would choose to make a profession out of what she so loved.

Every few days she would embark on a different destination in another part of the world, ready to savour new cultures and mentalities.

She felt as if wanderlust – that strong desire to travel and constantly be on the move, to explore the world – was an emotion running in her veins ever since she was born. Combined with “Fernweh” – that crave for travelling, being homesick for a place you’ve never been – Jazmin was the personification of the ultimate traveler.

She rejoiced every time she set foot on the plane, and never really felt like home anywhere else. She was very well adapted to life on air that she had difficulty adapting to life on the ground.

The excitement and enthusiasm, however, began to fade three years later. Jazmin began to grow tired of the constant change of location, of the packing and unpacking, of the same air routine every couple of days. And she began to feel jealous of the young couples who would come on board, exhilarated that they were fleeing to an exotic destination, together. That is what she now longed for. Sharing this Fernweh that dominated her existence with someone else. Having a partner. Having a home. A stable place to which to return.

It was not too long after she admitted to herself that she yearned for some stability in her life of travels, that one particularly charming passenger made her heart skip a beat, so much that she almost poured the hot coffee on the person sitting right in front of him. Jazmin blushed, and the dandy gentleman radiated what she was for so long expecting – a smile that would make her feel at home.

But he disembarked, leaving Jazmin to wonder if should would ever see him again.

Until she found the note he had left for her on his seat. It was a meeting place for their first date, and the start of their life together. A life as colourful as all her travels, as energized as all her trips, and as loving as all her desires.

Also part of Daily Prompt: Roy G. Biv

Not even when the fat lady sings

fat_lady_singingBen was in pain. It was not the kind of pain that you can take medicine for and make it go away. This was deeper. It was an ache that reached right inside of him, grabbed hold of his soul and clenched it as tightly as possible. It was a pain that could not be soothed.

For two months, nothing could make it any better. Not even words of comfort from older and wiser friends. Not even music of all sorts. Not even movies to make his mind wander off. Not even alcohol.

But one day, the pain changed.

It became one that devoured his insides. He could feel it grasping his lower belly and causing him to fold into two as he fell to the floor, entangled like a baby ape.

That is how his aunt found him when she came to check up on him with a freshly baked carrot cake in hand.

Ben barely managed to utter that he was in too much pain to even move. He was rushed to the hospital and told that his sadness – his untreatable pain – had severely damaged his kidneys, to the point that they were no longer functional. His left kidney had to be removed immediately, but his right one was only in danger. He had to have a kidney transplant in order to be sure that he would not face any future risk that would endanger his very life.

Ben was of a rare blood type and kidney donors that were an exact match were hard to find. But, somehow, he was lucky. The “rare kind of lucky”, the doctor said, as a donor was found within 24 hours. It was a perfect match and the operation was a success. Ben was given a list of things to do, to eat, to take care of. “Get rid of sadness” was written in capitals at the bottom. But anyone who has ever been heart-broken knows that this is an almost impossible task.

The day after his surgery, Ben insisted on being told who his donor was. The doctor told him it was against medical practice, but he said the donor was asked and had no objection. In fact, the donor themselves wanted to come by and see how their new kidney-host was doing. Ben nodded, his curiosity rising.

As the door opened, he saw her. She was even more beautiful than he remembered, with a smile that made his heart pound and her eyes sparkling so brightly they lit up the entire room. He had not seen Lucy for two months now.

I thought it was over,” he told her, his eyes welling up. “Yet, you came and saved me.”

Honey, it is never over with us,” she replied, equally moved to tears. “Not even when the fat lady sings.”

Being the first at something different

man on the moonFor some non-apparent reason we all rush, push and shove to be the first in line for pretty much everything – to get fresh milk, to then pay for it, to learn the news, to see the new film, to watch a new episode of a popular series.

We dedicate so much energy to be the first to experience something that so many other people will also accomplish just a few seconds later. Yet we believe that being the first to do something as trivial as whatever it is we rush to be the first to do, somehow gives us importance and elevates us to VIP status. As if we are better than the rest, simply because we were the first to get a loaf of freshly baked bread, just like another hundred people after us did.

Just imagine how much better this world would be if we dedicated as much zeal into being the first in actually doing something worthwhile; in discovering something innovative and new, that would benefit all the other hundred people who would get to practice it after us. Just think, what a difference we would make if we were the first to bring some new development in our own lives…

Also part of Daily Prompt: Powerful Suggestion

The genie’s wish

genie-lampWould you like to live forever?

How many times throughout the centuries has that thought swiveled in the minds of humans?

To be immortal, unbreakable, untouchable.

To be able to live through everything and forever.

Today’s longest surviving people are almost 1.5 centuries old. They have experienced more developments and history than today’s generation even know about. They have seen the world evolve, crash and burn, rise from its ashes, and progress. They have seen technological advancements that gave life to things that in the past were considered almost impossible, but now we simply take them for granted. They have witnessed the world expand with everything that may be associated with that.

But they have also experienced great pain. For although they may be surviving unusually long periods of time, their loved ones are not. They are the ones who have had to say goodbye to so many of them and continue to live in a world without them. They are the ones who had to learn to keep going no matter what.

So, if you had a wish would you waste it on this? On living forever? Even if it did mean you would get to witness the future of this world, no matter how it would turn out to be? But knowing that it meant you would become that old person surrounded by new faces, feeling as an irrelevant part of history striving to survive in an all too modern age?

When Genie’s lamp was discovered and he was made to appear one last time, he himself was given a wish once freed. He could have anything. But Genie had seen enough wishes gone wrong to know better.

He did not wish for eternal life and immortality. Instead, he wished for something quite similar that would indirectly grant him precisely that, but without forcing him to suffer all the pain too.

Genie instead wished for eternal love and remembrance.

The absence of time

stars in night skyIt is the one thing we all complain of constantly. Of not having enough. Of passing by too quickly. Of not moving along quickly enough. It is what we anxiously count down with, what we nostalgically look back to, and what we constantly fear will run out too soon.

Time is both a friend and a foe. For the latter it is obvious – it is always the one to betray you. It is never enough to do all the things you want; to enjoy all the hobbies you keep yourself occupied with; to saturate your memories and your heart with the people you love. Time will always take something away from you.

But on the other hand, time is your friend. There are people who state that all they have is time. Moaning that days never pass, that everything seems endless. In unpleasant situations, this is the predominant feeling. For if you are having fun, time indeed seems to fly.

Sometimes you need time to yourself. To simply sit in silence and be. To, in a sense, meditate. To listen to what it is you truly desire at the moment. To heal. Even if they do say time heals all wounds, it is not always true. For some wounds never truly heal. People don’t wound you. They leave marks, memories, imprints, maybe even scars on your soul and these cannot be washed away with the passing of time. They may be pushed back into the distant drawers of your mind, but they are never truly forgotten. These are the moments that you cannot explain with words. Not because you lack the vocabulary. But because the words to adequately capture your sensations for them do not yet exist. It is moments like this when you feel a flood of emotions stream through your veins, when all you can do is stand still and surrender to the trickling of tears down your flushed cheeks. It is moments like these, however, that you will remember forever, because these are the ones that feel like an infinity in a predetermined expiration date.

Time is not to blame for the mistakes we make. For the relationships that end, for the choices we didn’t take. We may blame the circumstances, the synergies, the timing, the lighting, or anything that we may easily accuse. But like Cassius says in Act I, Scene II of William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves…

We live in a shattered world. One from which we constantly try to hide. In the illusions that things are not so bad as they seem; in the allusions that people are better than we deem them to be; in the desperate need to believe that everything will be all right in the end. Even if we are racing against a ticking clock.

Because sooner or later we will learn that nothing lasts forever. People leave like ocean currents. There is no truth. There is no time. All there is, is now. And what we chose to do with it.

Ten chairs of same size but of different quirks

There were ten chairs arranged in a perfect circle right in the middle of the room, exactly twenty metres from the door and with a diameter of precisely four metres. Abigail herself measured it all every Tuesday ten minutes before the clock on the wall struck 4pm. The other seven members of the group usually began entering at five minutes to four, with only Kaitlin coming in at 4:02pm every time.

Living with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) was a drag. But going to a support group meeting in the hope of being able to alleviate the symptoms was something close to unimaginable. How could you accommodate the Obsessiveness of eight different people, especially when some of their OCDs actually conflicted?

For example, Arnold had to sit exactly in the centre of the group, something that had to change each time a group member was absent; but it would also have to accommodate Justin’s need for him to have an almost equal distribution of male and female “colleagues” on either side. And then, Mika always had to be the one to speak last, while Isaac wanted to have the word seventh in line. It was chaos for their coordinator Patrick. But what was worse was the fact that the OCD support group was not really helping anyone improve. If anything, it seemed to make things worse.

Abigail now began going in fifteen minutes earlier to measure the distances of the chairs and doors, irritated that Samuel came in a few minutes later and moved his chair ever so slightly, but enough for her to be compelled to take out her measuring tape and begin all over again.

Caleb had to tap his hand on the back of his chair three times before doing anything – literally, anything – before sitting down, before speaking, before getting up. Ray had to wait for absolute silence before he began to talk and even the slightest sneeze could get him off-course, so that he would have to restart his speech.

Patrick himself didn’t really have any obsessive traits. Well, at least not before he started the group sessions.

Now, three months later, he started noticing things he didn’t use to – the distance between chairs, the whiteness of paper, silence and noise, the order of lists, promptness of time, colours, decorations, the organization of a room; those little things that to any regular person might not seem important.

He feared that soon he too would need counselling. So he decided to follow a new method.

He took the OCD group on a field trip to the park. He laid down a brown plaid blanket and called them all to sit. There was no measuring, no time delays, no tapping, no counting whose turn it was, no total silence. It was just a group of people during a weekly gathering in the park.

Surprisingly it worked. For that one hour, everyone forgot about their OCDs and were just friends having fun in the park.

Until they left. And it all started again. The insomnia from not counting enough sheep, the measuring of the furniture, the tapping, the order of the lists.

Patrick decided to change the location of the meeting every now and again and hope something would work.

By now, he too had began looking at his phone screen more often than usual, swiping all screens back and forth twice before he would put the phone away. He used to think OCD meant something else, like Overtly Characteristic Denial or Other Central Differences or even Ominous Covert Detective. Now, he had learned exactly what it meant and what it felt like. If only he could now shake it off. Maybe even twice.

Riding in the plane with noise

aerial-view-vi-airplane-flying-over-valencia-in-spain-headed-east-towards-the-mediterranean-sea-john-a-shironFedra was traveling for the first time after news of the serious plane crash had surfaced in the media. Although she was a very frequent flyer and never faced any severe plane-related episodes other than the occasional turbulence during bad weather, this time she was a bit afraid. Falling planes had become a kind of a notorious trend lately and the media depiction of the situation was not helping. Just in case, she took a light sedative before boarding.

Everything had proceeded normally. So far.

She noticed the flight was full of many foreigners. And old people. But she took no notice. What difference would it make anyway?

As soon as the plane took off, though, it began.

The noise. The unbearable noise. And it was not coming from the engines.

It was emerging from the old ladies sitting exactly behind her. They were separated by an old man who was unlucky enough to be seated in the middle of this missile exchange of very loud words. Foreign words of a language Fedra could not detect. Maybe something Arab-related? Or perhaps it was Dutch? For some reason the unfamiliarity of the words also made them sound all the more louder. She couldn’t understand whether the women were excited of traveling, of being on a plane, or simply chatterboxes. But they were so loud, even the person ten rows further down complained. Not even the flight attendants could do anything about this. The old ladies couldn’t hear well either, so even telling them to keep it down had to be done loudly and then everything simply became worse.

People all across the plane were hoping food would be served soon to get them to shut up. But that didn’t work either.

Food just made the old ladies even louder, as they were munching and chatting at the same time, probably criticising the food, the service, and who knows what else.

Then the on board purchases had their round and the old ladies got so excited that they stopped the cart and were asking to see things – mostly jewelry – for about ten minutes. The stewardess was not able to accurately decipher what the old ladies were saying, as their foreign language differed greatly from English, and this caused even the stewardess to sigh numerous times. She eventually walked away fifteen minutes later without having managed to sell anything.

The noise continued though.

Passengers trying to get some sleep were now complaining of living a nightmare, while literally everyone was checking the time, hoping the plane would land soon so this martyrdom would end.

It is unavoidable to travel with noise. It is part of human behaviour. But why have we all become so insensitive to every one else around us that we simply do not give a chicken’s feather what anyone else thinks, or if we are causing them discomfort?

When the plane finally landed, the pilot himself opened the cockpit door and requested to see who was making all that noise. When he saw two elderly women picking up their canes and holding on to the unfortunate old man-in-the-middle, he was stunned. How so much noise could be coming out of such a feeble “container” was a mystery to him. And to the control tower to whom he had been reporting.

What the old ladies (and the other passengers) didn’t know, is that right behind them sat a reporter from their hometown who had been recording everything they were saying. Something which he later used for his own reportage. Fedra still didn’t know how, but a few days later she had seen the two familiar faces on a foreign news bulletin during a TV zapping surge one afternoon.

The moral ending is, be considerate of others around you. If nothing else, you never know who might be listening and what consequences that may have.

Also part of Daily Prompt: What a Twist!

An intricate loop

lost ringShe suffered from being too organized. If that ever was a sickness, she was the number one patient. Victoria was obsessed with having everything in order. She felt it was the only way she could control whatever life threw at her. That is why she succumbed to a panic attack when she realized that afternoon that she had lost it.

The ring Danny gave her.

She never took it off her finger, unless she was washing clothes by hand. Then she would place it on the little shelf under the mirror on top of the marble wash-basin and she would stare at it, daydreaming, as she scrubbed the delicate clothes clean. Once she had hung the clothes to dry, she would return, soften her hands by rubbing on cream, and replace the silver ring to its rightful place on her finger.

But today, something went wrong. She realized the ring was missing from her finger when she reached for a piece of cake during afternoon coffee with her friend Emily who had come over to share some gossip. What ensued could only be described as havoc, as an anxious Victoria stormed the bathroom and then paced nervously around every room of the house, re-tracing every step she had made – and which she remembered – in order to find the lost jewel. Emily could do little to console her friend.

It’s hard being a perfectionist. You can never take anything lightly. And never let anything go. Not even when Danny said the ring could be replaced. But for Victoria it would never be the same.

——————–

It was a beautiful afternoon in the park and Vincent had taken Buster out for a walk. The golden retriever basked in the sun for a few minutes, then sprung to its feet and called for a game of Frisbee. Vincent loved this game as his dog always made the most unaccepted leaps, catching the Frisbee in his mouth, no matter how far it went. So he always tried to throw it as far as possible; for him this was also a very good way to make new acquaintances. And Buster was on his own so adorable.

The Frisbee was heading for the lake when Buster made a leap worthy of professional jumpers, and caught it with his teeth glistening in the sunlight as he fell in the waters with a grand splash, cooling everyone who happened to be around the scene. Vincent ran to apologise to the surprised onlookers, when he saw something small glistening at the edge of the pond.

It was a silver ring.

He picked it up and read the inside engraving “I will love you forever, Danny”.

Someone must be very concerned this is lost, he thought. But on the other hand, what if it was intentionally thrown away? What if this was a love story gone all bad? Sometimes love doesn’t always head in the direction the heart wants, he pondered, as Buster joyfully bounced to his side requesting another round of Frisbee.

——————–

She had done this for ages. It was a profession carried on for generations, for as long as she could remember. Her mother had taught her how, and she was in turn trained by her mother and so forth. They roamed the country practicing it and she had learned to read people better than she read the cards before her.

People came to her seeking a glimpse into their future. They wanted to feel the illusion of being able to control what would arrive. The majority never really believed the fortune-teller and they all thought that she was just taking their money in exchange for a few positive words that had no reasonable basis. Yet they still went. People are like that. Silly and gullible.

Yet they are also longing and hopeful. And this is what the fortune-teller relied on.

She only remembered the cases that most strongly made an impression on her. And there was this one couple she could never forget. Not even five years later. She had felt their aura since before they had entered her tent at the local fair. The young woman had convinced the man to go see her. She had said it would be fun. They were newly-weds and you could tell by the sparkle in their eyes, by how they gazed into each other so lovingly, by how in love they appeared.

The first thing the fortune-teller noticed when they sat before her was the silver ring on the girl’s finger. There was something about it. It had brought them so much love and happiness, but for some reason it would also bring them so much pain and suffering.

She pretended to look into the crystal ball and began to tell them that they would have a long and happy life together. The couple smiled and squeezed each other’s hand. But the fortune-teller was not telling the truth. It was one of those rare instances that she looked into the ball in her hands and felt a déjà vu. She felt her vision become misty and could almost see what the couple’s future would be – it was cloudy and grey, shadows had creeped over their rays of sunshine, and it was all caused by a small circle, a loop, a ring.

Hold on to each other, but not too tight, or else you will lose one another forever,” she said as the couple walked out of the tent. The girl looked at the fortune-teller as she turned to leave. She said nothing, although her smile had faded.

The fortune-teller looked back into her crystal ball and saw a reflection of her own dark complexion staring back. Fate was never something anyone could ever foresee. Or control.

Also part of Daily Prompt: Weaving the Threads

The Origins of Health

1_imgsize.aspThere is nothing better in life than good health,” wrote the poet Menander (4th century BC) and rhetorician Lucian (2nd century AD) agreed that “there is no benefit in possessing every good if health is absent”. Ever since the dawn of its existence, humanity has strived to achieve and maintain good health, while seeking to understand the causes of illnesses and searching for solutions to treat them. This remains one of mankind’s primary concerns – just consider the most common drinking toast (“to good health”). In an exquisite archaeological exhibition entitled HYGIEIA: Health, Illness and Treatment from Homer to Galen, The Museum of Cycladic Art in Athens, Greece, offers an unrivalled journey through the evolution of medical practices from 1200 BC to the 3rd century AD, with the aid of 282 artefacts from 41 museums in 7 European countries. But it is not just the artefacts that matter here, it is the knowledge residing behind them.

2_AsklipiosIn his epics, Homer refers to Asklepios as a mortal King of Trikke in Thessaly and a peerless physician. However, according to ancient myth, Asklepios was the son of god Apollo. He is later referred to as a demi-god, one who possessed the unique ability to grant health. From the 5th century BC onwards, his cult as the foremost healing god spread rapidly and endured even past the advent of Christianity to approximately 500 BC. Asklepios was that tall, mature, bearded man often figured clad in a long robe, leaning on a snake-entwined staff. A snake is a “chthonic” element, it crawls on the ground and is well aware of the herbs and nutrients the earth breeds; thus, also capable of distinguishing between the good and bad – in fact, in Greek the word for medicine (φάρμακο) is just an intonation away from the word for poison (φαρμάκι). The snake, however, is also the symbol of renewal because of its ability to shed its skin. It therefore became the sacred animal of the healing god and today is the international symbol of medical doctors.

Such symbolism is abundant: in the Ancient era, the trademark for physicians was an ancient medical cupping vessel, named “Sikya” because of its resemblance to the tubular fruits of the sikya plant. Trefoil juglets that stored opium resembled inverted poppy capsules (the ones that when slit leak out opium-bearing latex), while they also featured a snake on their handle, cautioning that opium may be used in small doses as an anaesthetic and for soothing pain, but in larger doses can cause damage due to its hallucinatory effect.

4_AsklepieioIn the ancient healing sanctuaries dedicated to the healing god and thus known as Asklipieia, patients seeking divine cure would be bathed and aromatized (a purgatory ritual to ensure good health and ethical purity). They would then sleep in the sanctuary (incubation), experiencing a divinely-inspired dream, where Asklepios would appear and offer advice. In the morning this would be interpreted by the sanctuary’s priests and the illness would be physically treated.5_ Hygieia

The incubation process was inspired by another symbol: one that depicts Sleep – the brother of Death – as a winged child at the feet of Hygieia found at the very entrance of this exhibition. Hygieia (Health) is one of the daughters of Asklepios and the goddess of good health. It is from her name that the name (and concept) of “hygiene” arises. Asklepios’ entire family was related to the health-treatment process: his wife Epione was the comforter of pain; his two sons Machaon and Podaleirios took care of injured Achaeans in the Trojan War; while there were also the daughters Acesó (goddess of the healing process); Iasó (goddess of healing); Panacea (the all-healing goddess); and a younger son Telesphóros (he who brings fulfillment and protected coalescing patients).

This “theurgic medicine” was so widespread because prevalent belief had it that the gods inflicted illnesses upon humans as a punishment for impious acts. 6_Anathima STATUE-570And since the cure of every illness was similarly godsent, people tried to appease the gods with prayers, magnificent sacrifices, and purifications. These also included votive offerings either before or after treatment, which took the form of objects (or ailing body parts) as a supplication to the gods. Centuries would pass before the divine provenance of disease was challenged and treatment dissociated from divine intervention. This occurred with the teachings of the Pre-Socratic philosophers (6th c. BC), which served as the foundation for rational scientific medicine. However, votive offerings still remain an integral part of Christian belief, especially in Greek Orthodox Churches.

Hippocrates (460 BC – 370 BC), today considered as the Father of Scientific Medicine, recorded about 60 ancient treatises in what is known as the Hippocratic Corpus. The medicinal use of healing herbs still used today, originated from thousands of years ago. For example, laurel as an antiseptic, emollient and cathartic; Crocus (or saffron) used for eye inflammation; Lykion (or Goji Berry) extremely well-known for its healing properties; Mandrake used as anaesthetic in surgeries (today is the emblem of the Hellenic Society of Anaesthesiology); and Mastic used, among others, to clean teeth and as a regenerative factor for a radiant complexion.7_ Iasis 1

Hippocratic physicians also emphasized the importance of diet in maintaining health as well as in treating disease. In antiquity, the word diet was not limited strictly to food, as it is nowadays; it expressed a broader concept, which also encompassed – and always in moderation – drink, physical exercise, baths, massages, sleep, sexuality, and a person’s habits and way of life in general.

According to Hippocrates, the human body encompasses four fluids or humours (blood, phlegm, yellow bile, and black bile). The balanced proportion of all four fluids, known as Eukrasia (good mix), is a main characteristic of good health, while the disruption of this balance (Dyskrasia) leads to the onset of various diseases.

Galen (129-216 AD), a prolific Physician from Pergamon whose theories dominated and influenced Western medicine up to the 17thcentury, tried to explain human behavior according to the fluid that prevailed in each human being. So, for example, a Sanguine person, in whom blood prevails, is sociable; a Phlegmatic person, in whom phlegm prevails, is relaxed and quiet; a Choleric person, in whom yellow bile prevails, is tense and aggressive; and a Melancholic person, in whom black bile (melaina cholé in Greek) prevails, is moody and introverted.

9_760374_Iasis_Installation_3In the ancient era, physicians were seen as the “healers of evil” and were greatly respected in society. They enjoyed an elevated status because of their specific skills. They were considered craftsmen, as well as “demiourgoi”, i.e. workers who labored for deme, the public good. Physicians were considered servants of mankind in general and travelled from place to place to practice their craft and offer their services to community. This is also what today’s doctors vow to do through their Hippocratic Oath. To continue practicing medicine, whose origins, as is evident, stem from centuries ago. And despite the fact that people – in their majority – no longer believe diseases are godsent punishes for irreverent human actions – deep down we all hope that someone can find a way to reverse them, to treat even the most incurable ones, and soothe the suffering for all.

 

* The exhibition “HYGIEIA. Health, Illness, Treatment from Homer to Galen” runs from 19/11/2014 until 31/5/2015 and a short video can be found here.

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