Thursday, November 4, 2010

I Love You with All My Bowels - Splanchna (σπλάγχνα)

This post was supposed to go up on February 14th, 2010. Alas, I was too busy being anti-Valentine and making pig ear salad that I never got around to writing it. And I can't really explain the procrastination, because it's not like it's a long post that requires a lot of thought; what I had to say could be said in, like, 5 sentences tops.

Anyway, did you know that in the Graeco-Roman world, the seat of emotion is in the bowels? The organ, heart, has come to represent the seat of emotion in modern times quite universally. But there was a time when saying, "I love you with all of my bowels (splanchna* σπλάγχνα)," made perfect sense. And it wasn't even meant to be funny.

Biblical books attributed to Saul of Tarsus, better known as the Apostle Paul, as well as a few other individuals contain several occurrences of the word and its various derivatives.

Were the writers conscious of what the word literally meant when they used it? Unlikely. It's kind of like how we talk about "heart" in the context of emotion without necessarily conjuring up the image of a four-chambered, fist-sized, blood-pumping organ in your chest.

*The "ch" is pronounced like "ch" in "Bach."