Melancholicus or Snape
from a medieval point of view
Here is what this author wrote me:
"I came across your site on the Internet and since we seem to share a similar fascination, I like to present to you my point of view in this subject matter. Why is this Snape so damn fascinating?
As a scholar in Medieval History I was stuck by the character of Snape as the very incarnation of the Melancholicus, one of the four Galenian character-types described in medieval medicine books. Knowing Rowling's scholarly background, I don't think this is a coincidence. Since I did not come across a description of the Melancholicus on your site, I would like to fill this gap. You're work isn't complete without it!
And while I was at it, I also projected the other three types (the Sanguinicus, the Cholericus and the Flegmaticus) on HP's world and find the result worthwhile."
Thank you, and enjoy!
Lady Claudia - I decided not to add any comments because the whole thing is self-explanatory! If you feel some characters have not been placed in the right category, I won't argue with you or the author. But since this comes directly from someone specializing in Medieval History, I reckon she knows what she's talking about! Therefore, I shall not try to analyze something I am not well acquainted with! Personally, I think viewing Severus from this point of view is wonderful and very instructive indeed!
The four temperaments according to the Galenian system
(Galenus, Greek philosopher and doctor, 2th-1th century BC)
This system is based on a long tradition in Greek nature-philosophy, which defines four elements, qualities, hemispheres, seasons, etc, in creation and human life. In the Middle Ages this system became more and more elaborated, but suited the contemporary physicians well. This system of four corresponds to four types of people, in other words four ‘temperaments’.
The elements which define the temperaments are these:
four elements: fire, air, water, earth
four ‘qualities’: warm, cold, dry, moist
four body fluids: blood, slime, yellow gall, black gall
four seasons: spring, summer, autumn, winter
four hemispheres: north, south, east, west
four times of the day: morning, noon, afternoon, night
four phases in life: childhood, youth, adult, old
four Zodiac signs: Leo, Scorpio, Aquarius, Taurus (these are the central four in this system)
four celestial bodies: Sun, Moon, Jupiter, Saturn (idem)
And a lot more, but these are the most important. In medieval times, four stood for the creation. (1-God; 2-two natures of Christ; 3-H. Trinity; 7-perfection; 8-eternity, etc.). Systematic as they were, the middle-agers marvelled at the absolutely harmonious way in which the Creator had organized everything, and they did their utmost best to decipher Gods blueprint.
And now for the temperaments. I have taken the liberty of adding some other ‘fields’, such as which HP character fits in which temperament, which subject they would like best, which art form, and which Hogwarts house fits in best. These are of course my own ideas, and can therefore be argued.
Cholericus – the choleric type
Qualities: warm, dry
Body fluids: yellow gall
Celestial body: Sun, Mars
Appearance: tall, slim, athletic, sometimes somewhat militaristic
Character: courageous, passionate, aggressive, disciplined, strict, arrogant, masculine, a warrior, ambitious, etc.
Iconography: knight in armour, lion
HP character: Minerva McGonagall, Albus Dumbledore (although he has some sanguine tendencies as well), Hermione Granger, Percy Weasley, Sirius Black, Oliver Wood, Marcus Flint, Lucius Malfoy
Hogwarts House: Gryffindor
Hogwarts subject: Transfiguration, Care of Magical Creatures, Duelling, Quidditch (the ‘battle’ aspect)
Artforms: Antique sculptures, neo-classical architecture, Beethoven, things clear and grand
Sanguinicus – the sanguine type
Qualities: warm, moist
Body fluid: blood
Celestial body: Jupiter (the main god of the Romans)
Appearance: well build, large, very well dressed, blushing face, handsome
Character: the popular guy, a bon-vivant, extravert, light-hearted, positive, sensual, carpe diem, intelligent. In the Middle Ages the sanguine type was considered to be the ideal.
Iconography: chivalric knight, falcon
Hogwarts house: Ravenclaw
Hogwarts subjects: Charms, Quidditch (the ‘glamorous’ aspect)
Artforms: big baroc oil paintings (especially Frans Hals, Peter Paul Rubens en Jan Steen), Vivaldi
Phlegmaticus – the phlegmatic type
Qualities: cold, moist
Body fluid: slime
Lifetime: old age
Celestial body: Moon, Venus
Appearance: short, sometimes obese, weak, pale, well-dressed, ‘watery’
Character: friendly, gentle, peaceful, indecisive, tranquil, slow, sometimes lazy, quiet, feminine
Iconography: merchant, goat
HP character: Neville Longbottom, definitely
Hogwarts house: Hufflepuff
Hogwarts subjects: Herbology, Muggle-studies, Divination
Artforms: impressionist paintings, New-Age music
Melancholicus – the melancholical type
Qualities: cold, dry
Body fluid: black gall (considered the most dangerous of the fluids)
Celestial body: Saturn (the unlucky planet)
Appearance: tall, thin, gaunt, unhealthy, ugly, often not well-groomed (sounds familiar?)
Character: solitary, vindictive, cruel, hard, cold, an intriguer, sad, intense, complex, someone with a lot of scars on his/her soul. But in antique times the choleric type was mostly considered to be a genius.
Iconography: monk, pig
HP character: Severus Snape (you don’t say), Alastor Moody, Barty Crouch sr.
Hogwarts House: Slytherin (in the dungeons, where else?)
Hogwarts subjects: potions, (Defense against) the Dark Arts, arithmancy, ancient runes, all of the Artes Incertae
 In the movie he certainly looks the choleric type, with strong melancholical influences. I place him here mainly because of Jason Isaacs performance, since Malfoy is in the movie much more a personality than in the books.
 I have long doubted whether this should be Ravenclaw, but I do think (considering McGonagalls personality, the colour red, the lion, Godric Griffindors sword, the emphasis on bravery etc.) Gryffindor fits better.
 I placed him here because of his amiable, light-hearted nature
 We know very little of his character, but since he appears to be a very popular guy and the opposite of Severus Snape (the melancolicus is the opposite of the sanguinicus), I placed him here.
 Ravenclaw is the least well defined Hogwarts house, I think. Griffindors certainly have a much more popular attitude than the Ravenclaws, but I do believe Ravenclaw is the more sanguine house (considering Flitwick, the raven in their coat of arms, the emphasis of the Sorting Hat places on ‘wit’, etc.)
it is so woolly and silly