Encyclopedia of Early Modern History Online

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1. Classical element theory

1.1. Concept

In European cultural history, the term “elements” denotes the four basic substances, fire, water, earth, and air, which were together incorporated into a comprehensive theory of four elements in Antiquity. The etymological derivation of the term is from the Latin elementum, itself a translation of the Greek stoicheíon (“letter”, “sound”; first documented in the sense of “constituent component” or “basis” in Plato [8]).

The doctrine of the four elements was n…

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Mahayni, Ziad and Priesner, Claus, “Elements”, in: Encyclopedia of Early Modern History Online, Editors of the English edition: Graeme Dunphy, Andrew Gow. Original German Edition: Enzyklopädie der Neuzeit. Im Auftrag des Kulturwissenschaftlichen Instituts (Essen) und in Verbindung mit den Fachherausgebern herausgegeben von Friedrich Jaeger. Copyright © J.B. Metzlersche Verlagsbuchhandlung und Carl Ernst Poeschel Verlag GmbH 2005–2012. Consulted online on 06 December 2021 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/2352-0272_emho_COM_018694>
First published online: 2015
First print edition: 20170626

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