Medical etymology sometimes provides unexpected information about health concepts and medical practice in different times and cultures. We conducted an etymological analysis of the terms used to indicate "liver" in Germanic and Romance languages. The Greek word "hèpar" was originally connected to the concept of "pleasure", showing that in antiquity the liver was considered to be the seat of soul and human feelings. In Romance languages, the Latin term "ficatum" was linked to the ancient practice of fattening geese with figs (ficus in Latin) to make their livers more delicious. This relationship between the liver, fat, and carbohydrates seems to indicate that ancient gourmets had clear knowledge of the nutritional mechanisms underlying "fatty liver" in animals. On the other hand, the Germanic term "lifere" was initially connected to "life", underscoring the relation of the liver to health and existence. In the Early Modern Age, the liver became a recurring image in political reflection, especially within the Elizabethan tradition of the body politic, where the king was frequently described as the "liver" of his country. Finally, the liver was used to indicate courage, or the lack of it: some modern French and English idiomatic expressions derive from the ancient belief that people who had no blood in their liver ("lily-livered") would thus be cowards or betrayers.
"The city of Hepar" : rituals, gastronomy, and politics at the origins of the modern names for the liver / M.A. Riva, E. Riva, M. Spicci, M. Strazzabosco, M. Giovannini, G. Cesana. - In: JOURNAL OF HEPATOLOGY. - ISSN 0168-8278. - 55:5(2011 Nov), pp. 1132-1136.
|Titolo:||"The city of Hepar" : rituals, gastronomy, and politics at the origins of the modern names for the liver|
RIVA, ENRICA LICIA (Secondo)
GIOVANNINI, MARCELLO (Penultimo)
|Parole Chiave:||Figs; History; Literature; Liver; Medical etymology|
|Settore Scientifico Disciplinare:||Settore MED/02 - Storia della Medicina|
Settore MED/05 - Patologia Clinica
|Data di pubblicazione:||nov-2011|
|Digital Object Identifier (DOI):||http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhep.2011.05.011|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||01 - Articolo su periodico|