“The Duenech Allegory”, 1602




There was an old duke, called Duenech. He saw himself despised in the meeting of monarchs, on account of his deep melancholy. After a deliberation with friends how this melancholy could be suppressed and how the blood with the other excellent temperaments could get the upper hand, he sent for the physician Pharut and offered him a high reward, if he, Pharut, the prince of physicians, could cure him. Thereupon Pharut said that it would be a protracted and difficult cure which only he could bring about and he promised to cure Duenech.They fixed a time to begin, namely when Saturn was in opposition with the Sun. Thereupon Pharut ordered everybody to leave the duke’s house, with the exception of a little fool in gay-coloured garments, who was allowed to stay to entertain the duke.

After Pharut put Duenech in a bed with white sheets and covered him well, so that he might not be killed by the smoke of the nearest furnace. Then he gave him clear water, in consequence of which Duenech began to sweat so strongly that the white sheets were completely stained. The black bile had been dissolved in the whole of Duenech’s body. Thereupon Pharut prepared another bed for him, the bolster of which was filled with the feathers of a young, black eagle, and the pillow with swans’ feathers; on the bed a black sheet and a white cover were laid. Duenech was put in this bed and all air holes were entirely closed so that neither sweat nor vapour might escape. This bed was heated and Pharut rubbed Duenech’s body and feet with evil-smelling oil until the black bile had spread to the top of his head. From the change of colour it was clear that Duenech became unconscious several times. Pharut opened Duenech’s mouth and rejoiced when he saw that Duenech’s palate was white. At last he laid the exhausted monarch into a third bed and revived him there with water and oil, mixed with sulphur.

When Duenech looked at himself, he saw that he was freed from melancholy and had new, healthy blood, and that he surpassed all his fellow-soldiers in power.