The Winter Dreams of Phlegmatics The Winter Dreams of Phlegmatics
“A Cart on the Snowy Road at Honfleur,” Claude Monet (public domain)
The Four Elements

The Winter Dreams of Phlegmatics

A Calm and Serene Temperament
Kamila Dzika-Jurek
time 10 minutes

The easiest to identify among the four temperaments are the choleric and the phlegmatic types. In fact, since Hippocrates’s times, they have usually been depicted together. Here lies the key to the last and perhaps most interesting temperament—the phlegmatic.

The choleric is the kind of person that summer makes impulsive, angry, but also persevering. Work-wise and emotion wise, the sunny heat is the guiding spirit of fierce personalities, who do not find peace as easily as others. As such, the choleric temperament ostensibly has little in common with the peaceful phlegmatic, whose existential kingdom is, conversely, the winter season. Yet in spite of their apparent differences, they might share something in common.

The Winter Mirror

Hippocrates and his followers did not observe people themselves, but everything around them: the natural world, of which humans, according to the ancients, have always been an integral part. The human being was lodged in their minds like a piece of a much bigger puzzle, seamlessly fitting into nature. For this reason every discovery made about Homo sapiens used


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The Melancholics of Fall The Melancholics of Fall
“Melencolia I,” Albrecht Dürer, 1514

The Melancholics of Fall

A Brooding and Mysterious Temperament
Kamila Dzika-Jurek

It is from fall—from its full, ripe center, but also from the tiny brown specks that in these dark months soon appear on fruit as a sign of imminent decay—that the most mysterious of human temperaments appears: the melancholic. 

During the Renaissance, melancholics were considered thinkers and geniuses, people gifted with the ability of carefully observing the world around them; creative and thirsting for knowledge. Robert Burton, the 17th-century English humanist who wrote The Anatomy of Melancholy, was among the philosophers who identified with this temperament. Both Rembrandt and Albrecht Dürer (who created Melencolia I) surely would have described themselves as melancholics as well. Dürer’s engraving is believed in Europe to be one of the most famous works on the subject. The angel he depicted—leaning forward slightly, its chin resting on its hand—became a universal image of the melancholic for centuries to come. This brooding figure, seemingly devoid of all physical energy and focused on its own internal turmoil, almost sags under the weight of this experience. If people had known the difference between introverts and extroverts in those times, melancholics would have been an excellent example of the former.

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