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Complexion: woven together

Sunday, April 19, 2009

In the very old days the physiologists dreamed up some funny and fancy fairytales about this world of ours and its make-up. The Greek philosohper Aristotle taught that the earth and ourselves, too, were composed of four substances: First, "fire", which was hot and dry; second "air", which was warm and moist; third the "earth", which he rated cold and water, these were the four "elements," and Aristotle believed that the way they were combined were "woven together" in you gave you your complexion, and the word "complexion" suggest this idea for it is from the Latin com-"together," and plecto, "braid" or "weave". We still use the word in some such fashion when we speak of the political complexion ("quality," "character") of the legislature. Since the varying combinations of these elements were supposed to affect the color, hue, and appearance of the skin, the word finally took on it s modern meaning.


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