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Hippocrates, Europeans Have Courage

Treatise on Airs, Waters and Places   *


The other races in Europe differ from one another, both as to stature and shape, owing to the changes of the seasons, which are very great and frequent, and because the heat is strong, the winters severe, and there are frequent rains, and again protracted droughts, and winds, from which many and diversified changes are induced. These changes are likely to have an effect upon generation in the coagulation of the semen, as this process cannot be the same in summer as in winter, nor in rainy as in dry weather; 

Europeans, Asians, and the Greeks

Those people that inhabit cold countries, particularly in Europe, are generally full of spirit, but lacking in intelligence and skill; hence they are well able to preserve their freedom, but are backward in organisation and unable to conquer neighbouring lands. The peoples of Asia are intelligent and inventive, but lacking courage they are forever in a state of subjection and slavery. The Hellenic race, occupying countries midway between the two, combines these two kinds of characteristics; it is both brave and intelligent. Accordingly, it remains free, it is the best governed and could even rule the world, if it could only be welded into a single State.

Aristotle, Politics VII,6

wherefore, I think, that the figures of Europeans differ more than those of Asiatics; and they differ very much from one another as to stature in the same city; for vitiations of the semen occur in its coagulation more frequently during frequent changes of the seasons, than where they are alike and equable. And the same may be said of their dispositions, for the wild, and unsociable, and the passionate occur in such a constitution; for frequent excitement of the mind induces wildness, and extinguishes sociableness and mildness of disposition, and therefore I think the inhabitants of Europe more courageous than those of Asia; for a climate which is always the same induces indolence, but a changeable climate, laborious exertions both of body and mind; and from rest and indolence cowardice is engendered, and from laborious exertions and pains, courage. On this account the inhabitants of Europe are more courageous than the Asiatics, and also owing to their institutions, because they are not governed by kings like the latter, for where men are governed by kings there they must be very cowardly, as I have stated before; for their souls are enslaved, and they will not willingly, or readily undergo dangers in order to promote the power of another; but those that are free undertake dangers on their own account, and not for the sake of others; they court hazard and go out to meet it, for they themselves bear off the rewards of victory, and thus their institutions contribute not a little to their courage. Such is the general character of Europe and Asia.

Cf.  Cicero, I have spared no pains to make myself master of the Greek language and learning Schiller, A glorious humanity Hugo, In a grand parliament of intelligence Emerson, When the Gods come among men - Disclosing in every fact a germ of expansion   Ortega y Gassett, The birth of the city Aeschylus, Nobody's slaves Plato, Tyranny and slavery Gennadius Scholarius, Words are the fathers of all Good.


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