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Existem várias idéias antigas sobre os 'Elementos Clássicos'. A versão Grega dessas idéas persistiu por toda Idad Média e por todo Renascimento, influenciando o pensamento e a cultura Européia profundamente.

Os cinco elementos clássicos da Alquimia são Espírito (ou Éter), Ar, Fogo, Água e Terra, cada qual com suas propriedades.

Elementos clássicos na Grécia

Os elementos clássicos representam na filosofia, ciência e medicina Grega as possíveis constituições do cosmo..

Platão menciona-os como sendo de origem Pré-Socráticos, um lista criada pelo antigo filosofo Empedocles.

  • Fogo é quente e seco.
  • Terra é fria e seca.
  • Ar é quente e úmido.
  • Água é fria e úmida.

Um dagrama com dois quadrados sobrepostos, tem em cada ponta um dos elementos, num quadrado, e no outros, suas propriedades. Essa propriedades são descritas como variações da umidade e da temperatura, que produzem um Ar quente e úmido, um Fogo quente e seco, uma Água fria e úmida e uma Terra fria e seca.

De acordo com Galen, esses elementos foram usados por Hippocrates na descrição do corpo humano com associaão com os quatros humores: bile amarela (Fogo), bile preta (Terra), sangue (Ar) e muco (Água).

Some cosmologies include a fifth element, the "quintessence," or spirit. These five elements are sometimes associated with the five platonic solids: the sphere, the tetrahedron, the cube, the octahedron, and the icosahedron.

The Pythagoreans added idea as the fifth element, and also used the initial letters of these five elements to name the outer angles of their pentagram.

Some have noted that in modern science the general rule is that most visible matter can be classified as either a solid (Earth), liquid (Water), or gas (Air); a fourth element has been detected recently and is often called plasma (Fire). These correspond to the modern-day States of Matter.

Aristotle added aether as the quintessence, rationalizing that whereas Fire, Earth, Air, and Water were earthly and corruptible, the stars were eternal ("aether" is based on Greek for eternity) and were thus not made out of any of the four elements but rather a heavenly substance.

Classical elements in Hinduism

The classical elements in Hinduism are: Bhoomi (Earth), Jala (Water), Agni (Fire), Vayu (Air) and Akasa (Space). Together they were known as Panchabhootha (five elements).

Classical elements during the Middle Ages

The idea of the classical elements was known during medieval times, and, like much Aristotelian dogma, composed a large part of the medieval world view. The Roman Catholic Church supported the Aristotelian concept of aether because it supported the Christian view of earthly life as impermanent and heaven as eternal. References to the classical elements in medieval literature are numerous and can be seen in the work of many writers, including Shakespeare:

Thou hast as chiding a nativity
As fire, air, water, earth, and heaven can make,
To herald thee from the womb
-PERICLES, from Pericles Prince of Tyre
The cock, that is the trumpet to the morn,
Doth with his lofty and shrill-sounding throat
Awake the god of day; and, at his warning,
Whether in sea or fire, in earth or air,
The extravagant and erring spirit hies
To his confine
-HORATIO, from Hamlet, Prince of Denmark

Astrology and the classical elements

Astrology has used the concept of classical elements from antiquity up until the present. Most modern astrologers use the four classical elements extensively, and indeed it is still viewed as a critical part of interpreting the astrological chart. The elemental rulerships for the twelve astrological signs of the zodiac are as follows:

The elemental rulerships for the twelve astrological signs of the zodiac (according to Marcus Manilius) are as follows:

In Western tropical astrology, there are always 12 astrological signs; thus, each element is associated with 3 signs of the Zodiac which are always located exactly 120 degrees away from each other along the ecliptic and said to be in trine with one another.

Beginning with Aries the first sign which is a Fire sign, the next in line Taurus is Earth, then to Gemini which is Air, and finally to Cancer which is Water -- in Western astrology the sequence is always Fire, Earth, Air, & Water in that exact order. This cycle continues on twice more and ends with the twelth and final astrological sign, Pisces. The following list should allow one to visualize this cycle better:

  • 1 -- Aries - (Cardinal Fire): assertively, impulsively, selfishly.
  • 2 -- Taurus - (Fixed Earth): resourcefully, thoroughly, indulgently.
  • 3 -- Gemini - (Mutable Air): logically, inquisitively, superficially.
  • 4 -- Cancer - (Cardinal Water): tenaciously, sensitively, clingingly.
  • 5 -- Leo - (Fixed Fire): generously, proudly, theatrically.
  • 6 -- Virgo - (Mutable Earth): practically, efficiently, critically.
  • 7 -- Libra - (Cardinal Air): co-operatively, fairly, lazily.
  • 8 -- Scorpio - (Fixed Water): passionately, sensitively, anxiously.
  • 9 -- Sagittarius - (Mutable Fire): freely, straightforwardly, carelessly.
  • 10 -- Capricorn - (Cardinal Earth): prudently, cautiously, suspiciously.
  • 11 -- Aquarius - (Fixed Air): democratically, unconventionally, detachedly.
  • 12 -- Pisces - (Mutable Water): imaginatively, sensitively, distractedly.

Chinese classical elements

In Chinese (Taoism) there is a similar system, which includes Metal and Wood but excludes Air. Different things in nature are associated with the five types. For example, the five major planets were named after the elements: Venus is Metal, Jupiter is Wood, Mercury is Water, Mars is Fire and Saturn is Earth. Also the Moon represents Yin, the Sun represents Yang. Yin and Yang and the five elements are recurring themes in the I Ching, which is strongly related to Chinese cosmology and Chinese astrology.

See also


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