The four classical elements.
The Greek classical elements are fire, air, water, and earth. In Greek philosophy, science and medicine, these make up a whole.
- Fire is both hot and dry.
- Air is both hot and wet.
- Water is both cold and wet.
- Earth is both cold and dry.
The image below has two squares on top of each other. The corners of one are the classical elements. The corners of the other are the properties.
Galen said these elements were used by Hippocrates to describe the human body. The elements are linked to the four humours: phlegm (water), yellow bile (fire), black bile (earth), and blood (air).
In Chinese Taoism the elements are metal, wood, water, fire, earth (金、木、水、火、土).
Images for kids
Segment of the macrocosm showing the elemental spheres of terra (earth), aqua (water), aer (air), and ignis (fire), Robert Fludd, 1617
Seventeenth century alchemical emblem showing the four Classical elements in the corners of the image, alongside the tria prima on the central triangle