AND THE WINNER IS: Cesci with Pokémon & The Medieval Humours

The winning Cultural Precedent this month was Pokémon & The Medieval Humours.

Maybe Nigel was worried about what his preference for Team Mystic said about his phlegmatic personality, or maybe he was just very concerned with leeches (disclaimer, there are not nearly enough leeches in the podcast).

Sadly, there isn't actually a Leech Pokemon

Sadly, there isn’t actually a Leech Pokemon

Lets look more in depth at this month’s winner and sources (Hurrah! A Bibliography!)…

The idea of Humours originates in Greek medicine where Aristotle charactererised animals as blood or bloodless types and animals, nature and most key, bodily fluids related to earth, water, fire and air, or as I like to call them Bulbosaur, Squirtle, Charmander and Zubat. The humours also control your life and virtues Vita with Spirtus or Pheuma in the Greek. So if you have Choleric fiery tendencies you might chose team yellow and Charmander or you might be more of a phlegmatic wet team blue Squirtle or a Melancholic black (ok dark blue) Bublosaur – he does look kind of sad, and bilious. Finally you might be lucky enough to be a jolly sanguine airy-fairy Jigglypuff or Drowzees. Which are blood. You cut me and I bleed Jigglypuff.

I am leaving out electric pokemon because evidently they are modern-magic and would have been burnt at the stake, and normal beacause – well they are just another term for vermin like rats and pigeons. So if you are inundated with oddishs or other grass types then perhaps you are a bit too melancholic are your spleen is all out of sync (Rawcliffe 1995: 33), unattented too much melancholic bile will make you very unhappy, grey of skin and eventually can lead to leprosy.

So you are either hot, dry, cold or wet or some combination of the two temperatures and two moist-ness. You need a balance to keep you healthy and make you who you are. Balancing your humours could be achieved not just by leeches (YEAH LEECHES)…

Jeff, Jeff... Thats totally enough leeches now.. Jeff? Jeff what ya doing...

Jeff, Jeff… Thats totally enough leeches now.. Jeff? Jeff what ya doing…

…but actually through quite sensible advice on maintainging a good diet, avoiding stress, early to bed and getting on with your neighbours. Noise was also very important, noise pollution such as living next door to a carpenter (the stereo had yet to be invented) or a tanner could put that all out of joint. Cold meat, raw fruit and herbs could also be too blame, and pastry an absoloute no no if you were a bit unbalanced. Your ideal state should mirror warm chicken and almonds, which represented the perfect mix of temperature and texture (Rawcliffe 1995: 40). Kormas all round then.

But what has Pokémon got to do with contemporary medicine? Well quite a lot actually, Pokémon was the subject of a medical court case due to sharing its name with a cancer gene. Zbtb7, originally named Pokemon (standing for “ POK erythroid myeloid ontogenic factor”) , is a gene that may act as a master switch for cancer, and is responsible for the proliferation of cancer throughout surrounding cells.

  • Horden, P & Hsu, E. (Eds.)(2013) The Body in Balance: Humoural Medicines in Practice. Berghahn: New York & Oxford
  • Rawcliffe, C (1995) Medicine & Society in Later Medieval England. Sutton: Gloucestershire
  • Siraisi, N. (1990) Medieval & Early Renaissance Medicine. Chicago Press: Chicago & London