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date: 27 November 2022



  • Christopher Gill


Character, in English, is a broad, non-technical term, which suggests an interest in recognizing patterns in human behaviour, and in analysing the psychological structures underlying these patterns. It is easy to point to ancient theories and practices which exhibit this interest; it is more difficult to define the salient differences between ancient and modern thinking on this topic.Most of the relevant strands of ancient thought can be found in works ascribed to *Aristotle: Rhetoric 2. 12–17 contains evaluative sketches of the characteristic emotional responses of different social groups (young, old, etc.), a genre developed in *Theophrastus’ collection of ‘style-markers’ (Characters) of defective ethical types; [Physiognomics] presents a typology of human characters based on popular thinking about the significance of facial and bodily shapes (see physiognomy); [Problem.] 30. 1 (on melancholy), provides evidence of the medical thinking that, by late antiquity, evolves into the theory of the four humoral temperaments (see humours).


  • Latin Literature

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