Our bookstore now ships internationally. Free domestic shipping $50+ →

The Rudolf Steiner Archive

a project of Steiner Online Library, a public charity

Elephants to Einstein
GA 352

VII. Effects of arsenic and alcohol

16 February 1924, Dornach

Good morning, gentlemen. Is there anything special you would like to have today?

Mr Müller: Yes, a small query. Dr Steiner recently spoke about arsenic and very large children. Years ago I always saw such large children at the fair. I realized afterwards that the children who were shown at the fair had been at most 8, 12 or 16 years old. Children artificially brought to that state would sometimes come from Hungary. And since Dr Steiner said that arsenic is commonly found in the rocks there, I would like to ask what age such children may reach, children who have been artificially brought up on arsenic to make them large. Would it not be possible to take people who bring up children on arsenic to court and get the law to forbid people to do such things? Or is it only done very secretly as a source of business?

Dr Steiner mentioned that people who were able to stop the arsenic at a certain stage did come down again. That was not the case with these children; these were children who weighed about two hundredweight although they were only about 16. Surely they would have a difficult future ahead?

Dr Steiner also spoke about alcohol, that we produce alcohol in our bodies, and about the different effects of alcohol. One person gets extremely upset, making a row, and so on, and another is very quiet. Yet another has problems with his eyes, which is what happens to me. After one, two, three glasses I have hard granules in my eyes the next morning that one can hardly squash with one's fingers, as the result of taking alcohol.

Then Dr Steiner also said that one could, as it were, detect all diseases in the eyes. Now there are also people who say they can recognize all diseases by just looking at the urine. There is someone like that in Basel; would that be right? I can't believe it.

I'd also like to ask how it is when people get some medicine somewhere and firmly believe in it-would that contribute to the cure?

Then I'd also refer to Dr Steiner's last but one talk, about fresh water. There's a pond near Darmstadt where hot water comes in all the time from the chemical industry—it is actually steaming - and in this pond are thousands and thousands of goldfish and every one of them is dark red all over. How does that happen? They are dark red all over.

Rudolf Steiner: So the first question was about the fatty children.

It is true, as you thought quite rightly, that these children who are shown in all kinds of fair booths as something remarkable are fattened up artificially with arsenic or similar substances—you see, many other substances are similar to arsenic. And they are not particularly strong, those children, as one could test quite easily, but are merely fat, large.

Now you see, there is something much more complicated involved than what I said recently about adults taking arsenic. What I said then had to do with adults. They get into the kind of states I was speaking of. In these children, and it is indeed true that a crime is being committed against them—one cannot deny this—the action of the arsenic or similar substances is also due to something else. These children have to be treated in this criminal fashion at about the age I have always told you is an important period in life—in the years between the changing of the teeth, which would be their 6th or 7th year, and sexual maturity, which would be in their 14th or 15th year. And you see, at this age a child is not only such that one sends it to school, to the ordinary primary school, but something else happens as well.

You will remember, gentlemen, that I told you human beings consist not only of this physical body, which we see with our eyes and can touch with our hands, but also of supersensible soul and spirit aspects. One of the subtle bodies I called the human ether body. We have to consider this ether body in human development just as we do the physical body. To draw this rather schematically, we have the human being in his physical body (Fig. 15). But around this physical body and also inside it is this subtle body, the ether body. And apart from the physical body and the ether body—where even the ether body cannot be seen with our ordinary eyes—there is also the astral body in the human being, which is able to sense things. Plants still have an ether body, they can grow; that is because of the ether body. The human being and animals have an astral body; they can sense things, feel. Plants cannot do this. I told you that some people think a plant is able to feel; it definitely cannot.

physical and subtle bodies
Figure 15

You see, gentlemen, with every substance that has an effect on human beings we must ask ourselves: on which of these different aspects does the substance have an effect? Arsenic acts particularly on the astral body and very powerfully on our breathing. Our breathing depends on the astral body. When one gives arsenic to someone, all the consequences which the arsenic has come by the roundabout route via the astral body.

When a person lives through the early years, from birth until, let us say, the changing of the teeth in the 7th or 8th year, it is mainly the physical human body which develops. You can see this physical body developing. Look at a very small baby that has only just been born. You'll not really be able to say at that time if he looks more like his father or his mother. You know how it is, with aunts and uncles coming to the house when such a child has been born. One will say: 'Oh, he's the spitting image of his mother—especially the feet!' Another comes and says: 'Looks exactly like his father.' That is the way it is. An infant has not developed in decided way in his physical body, and it will only be later that one can see whom he resembles. Just look at the nose, a most expressive organ. The nose of a young infant may look very different from what it will be later on. This will be at a later time for some, but as a rule it is the case that when the changing of the teeth comes, the nose, which is relatively late in developing its proper form, its proper configuration, will have the right form.

Later, after the 7th or 8th year, the physical body really only increases in size, with the muscles getting stronger, but it has his actual form, its configuration, by the 7th year. The situation is, then, that it is mainly the physical body which comes to expression between the 1st and 7th years of life. And between the changing of the teeth and sexual maturity, between the 7th or 8th year and the 14th or 15th year, it is mainly the ether body which develops. This is the body that holds the powers of nutrition and growth. And the astral body only comes to develop between the 14th or 15th and the 20th or 21st years. It is only then that the astral body really develops. It is not that it would not be there before—we have it from birth—but the real development of the astral body happens only after the 14th or 15th year. When an adult who has passed his 14th or 15th year is given arsenic, he has developed his astral body. The arsenic is taking effect in him, but the organism is able to resist a little. But when a child between the 7th and 15th year is given arsenic, the astral body has not been developed, and the full power of the arsenic is brought to bear on the child. No power of resistance exists in the organism at that time. And the result is that the arsenic action, which above all causes masses of fat to be deposited, with everything turning to fat, causes everything to become spherical, growing sideways between the 7th and the 14th or 15th year.

You have to consider that the things I am telling you have tremendous importance where life is concerned. I know every one of you may say: 'Oh well, you are telling us that arsenic given to a child between the 7th and 14th or 15th years plays a great role, making the child fat, spherical, but I know people who have grown extremely large from childhood without having been given extra arsenic.' Yes, gentlemen, but you have to consider that the substances that occur in nature may be found everywhere, at least in small amounts. And we may say that people cannot take nourishment, or a child cannot take nourishment, without taking something that contains arsenic. Arsenic is also present in our foods.

Now you know that children have different tastes, different preferences. One child likes to eat one thing, another something else. And there are children who have a real preference for foods that contain arsenic. Later in life it may also still happen that one gets fat from things one enjoys eating. If you eat things you do not like you get thin as a rake. If you eat things you enjoy and also have the time to give yourself up to it, you will get large and fat. This is especially so with children, and above all with children between the 7th and 14th or 15th years. If children have such a yen for foods that contain arsenic they get large and fat. But the children exhibited in fair booths and so on—as mentioned by Mr Muller—are given arsenic artificially, just as in Alpine regions, and this is also the case in Hungary, where arsenic is found in the rocks in the mountain areas. These children are therefore given arsenic, and the main thing is that the child develops a taste for arsenic exactly at this age. It is horrible, but it is so. The child gradually begins to desire this arsenic, as if it were sugar, and takes it, and it then happens that the child gets large and fat before its astral body has properly developed. And such children can be put on show because they are something abnormal, gaining a terrible amount of weight. And people then consider it something worth looking at. People always want to see things that are unusual, and what will people not do to offer others something they enjoy. There are also quite different things designed to give people pleasure.

There is something else, for example, which is done with boys at that same age. You know that the human voice changes at the time when sexual maturity is reached, in the 14th or 15th year. It changes in boys—in girls changes have more to do with breast development and so on. But with boys the voice changes. A bad practice—it had become a great art especially in ancient Rome—is to castrate boys to keep their voices boyish, really high voices. Castration means to cut out their sexual organs. This gives you the famous choir boys with their tremendously high voices. Now you see, that is an even worse practice. But it is done under the pretence of being for sacred purposes. I don't know if you know it or not. So these things also exist, and we have to understand that there have been such things in this world, and that people really do all kinds of things so that even human nature may become something for exhibition and show.

If one considers the consequences of such things, it is like this. When someone has been given this arsenic in his young days and has grown large and fat, when the time comes to develop his astral body it will be much too small for the large body. It will be much too small and feeble. And the result is that when sexual maturity is reached and the astral body should begin to develop, this astral body is indeed much too small and feeble for the large, fat body. And children who have been fed arsenic in this way and dragged around the show booths will then have an astral body that is too small. And the result of this will be that certain organs do not develop at all. The organs will be flaccid then, completely flaccid. And it is above all the lungs which grow flaccid in these children. This is sometimes most painful to see, for in their 20th year or even earlier these children get into a state where they really are no longer able to breathe. This is not only because the lungs drown in the fat but because they grow flaccid, having no energy. And then comes a situation where something special happens with the lung. You see, gentlemen, the lung is not just an organ for breathing, the lung is also an important organ of nutrition, and the lung has to be properly nourished if a person is to go on living in the right way. Most lung diseases are not at all due to the breathing being unhealthy but to the lung not being properly nourished.

In these children it is no longer properly nourished from the 17th or l8th year onwards, because fatty degeneration of all the organs means that nutrients do not reach the lung at all. They may be said to reach the lung last, although it needs to be nourished. Foods go through all kinds of changes in the human body, as I have shown you. They go through six or seven changes. And the lung needs foods that have been changed seven times, these most precious things. This transformation does not happen, however, in those children. Most of them are therefore dead by their early twenties. And it is absolutely true to say that children who are exhibited at fairs in this way will be dead by their early twenties. They either die of debility or they develop lung disease. Most of them die of lung disease. It is because of this that one does not see such people at a later stage, as you said, for they die before that.

It is of course difficult to take legal measures against such things. People should see to it that it stops, just as people should do more themselves to create the right kind of social life and not always scream for the law right away. But I am also convinced that very few people know about the things I have just told you, for example. Very few people know how much more harmful arsenic is at the very age when it is given to these children than later on in life, for example. And I still believe that if people are informed about these things then the matter will improve even without legislation, without coercion, without always cracking the whip. But how can things get better if one is unable to make the truth known!

I know you'll say: 'Well, we did not have much education, we cannot know this, but we are sure the university professors will know it.' They do not know it at all. They simply do not know. And this is why such things are not made known. And it is important that it is understood by as many people as possible. Such things should and must be known.

Something similar, though also very different, is the case with alcohol. We have talked about alcohol before. But of course in the case of this arsenic poisoning, which leads to fatty degeneration, someone else gives it to the children, and when an adult takes arsenic he really does so in full awareness. And it has to be said that here it would have a tremendous effect if people were informed. We might well say that someone who takes arsenic simply from vanity, as I have told you, could be given the information. And if he really understands the consequences he may well not do it. With alcohol, on the other hand, the problem is so great because enlightenment does not help much in this case—unless people stop taking alcohol altogether. For once they start and take one or two glasses they get into a state where enlightenment fades away, and they will then go on drinking. This is why it is particularly difficult to achieve much by informing people about alcohol. Enlightenment should of course be effective in this case, and the fact that this is exactly the area where one has to resort so much to the law is really a sad thing in terms of people's strength of mind. There are countries today—just think of North America—where laws actually forbid the import of alcohol, in order to make people be sensible. Well, if we get to the point where people will only be sensible, and altogether useful, if everything is prescribed by law, then the human race is not worth much any more here on earth.

The situation with alcohol is this. I have told you that human beings produce their own alcohol in their bodies. This is because they need alcohol to preserve themselves. And you can be sure, gentlemen, the alcohol you produce yourselves will never make you drunk! The amount is just as much as you need to preserve the foods in you, making things last that should last in you. You'll realize the purpose, of course, of the alcohol we produce ourselves. You'll also have seen here or there that to preserve a dead animal, or some part of the human body, it is no good to leave it exposed to the air, and it has to be put in spirits, into alcohol. Alcohol thus keeps the form and structure of living things that have died. This is altogether a most important law of nature. What happens when you leave living things that have died to nature? The human body begins to perish the moment it is given over to the earth, it is dissolved. And that is how it is with all living things. The moment the ether body has left a living thing, that thing is destroyed, except if one uses such means as alcohol. Alcohol thus has the power to keep together those other powers that keep living things together.

You can see from this that alcohol is not earthly. There is also something else that will show you that alcohol is not earthly in the ordinary way. The human body and the animal body and the plant body are destroyed by the earthly element, but they are preserved, as we say, kept from being destroyed, by alcohol.

But how does alcohol come into existence? Well, you just have to look at a grape vine. Alcohol develops in the very place where the sun is able to shine most on the vine. And you know that grape vines do not thrive in northern Germany, for it gets too cold there, and the sun no longer has the power that is needed. If you draw a line parallel to the equator through Gruenberg in Silesia—very few people get drunk on Gruenberger wine, for it's as sour as may be! Wine can only be produced in places where the sun has that power on plants. Wine is therefore produced not by something earthly, but exactly by something from beyond the earth, the sun principle, something that is beyond the earth. People need to be altogether very cautious about taking in things that come from beyond this earth.

How does it happen that people produce their own alcohol inside? It happens like this, and I am going to tell you something that will probably interest you especially, only one has to pay a bit of attention to understand it. You see, where is solar energy, gentlemen? Solar energy exists in everything the sun shines on. Do observe—let's make it really easy to see. On a really hot summer day I put my chair out there in the burning sun, and leave it there for some hours before inviting you to take a seat. You sit down on the chair. Wow, you think, that's got really hot! Now I think you'll agree it is not a case of the sun shining on the particular organ, making you feel hot. If you had stood in the same place for that length of time, assuming the appropriate posture, the organ in question would have got as hot as the chair, and you would have felt it in your own body. But that is not the case; the chair has got hot. So you see, an ordinary, lifeless body has taken up the sun's heat and then passed it on to you.

It is much more complicated in the case of coal. Anthracite has been a palm tree or some other tree thousands and thousands of years ago. How did it come about? Well, there you had the earth (Fig. 16) and there a palm tree or a palm-like tree, with the sun shining on it. It later perished and went down into the soil. But just as the sun's heat was stored in the chair, so did the sun's heat stay in the palm tree, going into the soil with it. The palm tree turns into coal; the sun's heat stays in it. And thousands of years later you dig up the coal, put it in your stove, and the sun's heat is given back to you. You are heating your rooms today with heat from the sun when it shone on the earth thousands of years ago. People often do not think of this. When you sit on a chair and it warms your bottom you still notice that the sun left something of its energy there. With anthracite you no longer notice it. So you have to say: where anthracite is found in the earth, everywhere where there is anthracite, we have very ancient solar energy. The coal or carbon deposits everywhere are full of very ancient solar energy.

palm tree
Figure 16

Well, gentlemen, you do however eat plants. You put them inside you. Your own organism acts faster than the earth; the life-filled carbon from the plants is quickly converted and you then have carbon dioxide in your own body, which contains a lot of carbon. This carbon dioxide you have inside you does not turn to coal like the anthracite underground, but remains carbon dioxide. In the carbon dioxide you now have carbon, which you have inside you, and oxygen which comes from the air and also from foods. It is called carbon and oxygen. And you also have hydrogen in the human body, for you drink water, for example. This hydrogen combines with the carbon and the oxygen. And you only have to think of something you also have in a human body, something that begins to get smelly under certain conditions. And you only have to think of something that comes from animal bodies, which is eggs—we spoke of this the other day15See lecture of 23 January in this volume.—they get smelly. That is nitrogen. Only it does not smell when it is in the air, for there it is combined with other substances in a particular way.

Now you see, gentlemen, you walk about, need oxygen, carbon, nitrogen in order to live, and produce alcohol inside your organism. Alcohol is produced in the human organism16Reported in v. Schubert, GH., Die Geschichte der Seele, S. 539. 2. Aufl. Stuttgart 1833. ism to prevent us falling apart inside. The body would dissolve, just as it dissolves when it is a corpse, unless alcohol and alcohol-like compounds are produced. That is a natural thing. But now we must ask: on which of our bodies does alcohol act? You see, taken in moderate amounts alcohol initially has a very good effect on the physical body, for someone who produces too little alcohol can gain a good preservative with alcohol, and the alcohol does not really harm the physical body. Basically alcohol does not have at all a bad effect on the physical body. If alcohol were to harm the physical body—people do not give enough thought to this—the vine would be in a poor way, for the vine also has a physical body. The vine is completely blotto—it is this because it is full of alcohol—but its physical body does not suffer. Well, and the ether body also does not suffer from alcohol. Only the astral bodies of adult people are harmed by alcohol. It is equally harmful in children, as I'll tell you in a minute, because something else happens as well. But in adults alcohol also affects the astral body, just like arsenic, and above all the I. And the I lives in the blood circulation. Alcohol therefore has a powerful effect on the blood circulation.

Alcohol is so bad for children because it already has an astral body inside it. Plants only have an ether body, but the alcohol that is in the vine does have an astral body. This acts just like the principle that bubbles and boils in the blood. Is this hard to understand? Surely you can understand this. It acts like the principle that bubbles and boils in the blood. And this is also why children who drink alcohol at an early age get an astral body that they should really only develop fully by their 14th or 15th year; and they have no control over it. This is why alcohol is particularly harmful for children, because children will immediately get an astral body under the influence of alcohol.

You can see from this that alcohol really influences the soul sphere, the mind of the human being. That is where it is active. It destroys the breathing, the blood circulation, which arise from the sphere of mind and soul. These are affected by alcohol.

Now you should not think that the human head is a separate organ in the human being, and the chest, too, a separate organ. For although human beings are threefold, everything also influences everything else. Not only the lower body has to be nourished but especially also the human head. And when someone drinks alcohol and has the kind of lower body where alcohol is especially well processed—let us say someone is well able to tolerate two, three glasses of alcohol. I am not sure if that is what Mr Muller wanted to say of himself? But you probably tolerate a small amount of alcohol quite well?

Mr Müller denied this, saying that the granules appeared the next morning even if he had just one glass of beer.

So it is really the opposite in your case; you really do not tolerate alcohol at all?

Mr Müller confirmed that this was so.

Well, in that case you are an example of those who do not tolerate alcohol well. Now you see, if someone does not tolerate alcohol that well, does not really digest the alcohol that well, then the undigested alcohol reaches the head, also influencing the eyes, and causing mucous matter to push up towards the head. The blood is set boiling in someone who tolerates alcohol well, and in someone who does not tolerate it well the mucous material starts to move, and the mucus condenses towards the outside, so that it becomes granular. It is mucous material that has condensed. This is what can happen to someone who really does not tolerate even the first glass of alcohol that well. But let us assume someone is able to take a lot. Then the thing also goes to the head, but into the blood; and then you do not get those granules, and the whole blood circulation in the head is stimulated, and the whole blood circulation of the head secretes substances which are harmful. You then get the general inebriation, the general hangover, and a person gets to a state where he goes on and on drinking. So this is how one can tell the effect of alcohol on one person and on another.

You see, one would like to say: we really should have no need to tell these things apart, to look for them so hard, for whatever the situation may be, if alcohol has particularly abnormal effects it is really best to leave it alone. It is not good to go on taking alcohol when one feels the effects of it. But, as I said, alcohol acts on the astral body and the I today. The I feels stimulated. A person likes the taste of alcohol and he really feels that there is something in alcohol that takes him beyond earthly concerns. This feeling is really very interesting, for as I had to tell you, alcohol does not come from the earth but from a sphere that is not earthly. This is also why a person feels lifted above the earthly realm. Alcohol becomes a cure for cares, does it not? With alcohol a person is taken a bit beyond himself, and it feels infinitely good to be a bit outside oneself. And it is this which leads to widespread alcohol abuse.

Now there was another question for us to consider. Mr Muller said, if I understood you rightly, that there is a pond near Darmstadt and that warm industrial effluents pass through this pond? You can see what this is about from what I have been saying before. On the last but one occasion I tried to show you that when I say the fish in the sea do not have direct sun, this does not mean you should think they get no sun influence at all. Just as coal in the ground still holds the sun's effects thousands and thousands of years later, so does water also still have the sun's effects in it. And there, we have to say, the fish merely have to be organized in a different way compared to animals that live on land. And you can of course see that fish are organized differently. If fish had the kind of lungs that other animals and humans have, they could not live in water, of course. As you know, higher animals and human beings will simply drown if they live permanently in water. So they cannot live there. Fish can live there because they do not have lungs but gills; with these they get the air into themselves that is in the water and always has solar energies in it.

Now you know how people keep goldfish. You can't keep them in ordinary water; there you simply won't have goldfish. If there is shade you can at most breed them, but not keep them. The offspring take their colour from the old goldfish if you want to keep them without sun. But you'll find, if you keep goldfish in water that has no sun, that they get very pale after three or four months. The little goldfish get their proper bright colour if there is direct sun in their water. That is a difference. You see, if I have a pond here, or even a small basin, and the sun shines directly into it (Fig. 17), something else is there for the fish than in another place. Here it has to use old solar energies that have been in the water for some time; here it gains new solar energies that have been in the water for a shorter time.

Figure 17

Now the Darmstadt factory that lets its warm water run into the pond is a special case. You have to admit that when something has been under some restraint where life is concerned and then is free again, it will really wriggle a great deal and develop. Imagine how it would be if you had tied a person down for some time. He cannot move a limb when he is locked up. When he is free again he takes a special pleasure and enjoyment in life. And now think of the water from the Darmstadt factory running into the pond. This water is getting its solar influence in a very special way. The factory basically also runs on coal, for everything goes back to coal. The heat used in it comes from coal. Coal has preserved solar energies through thousands and thousands of years. These solar energies now enter the pond as warm water. And it is indeed the case that solar energies which are released after having been locked up in the coal for thousands of years are particularly active. So you can't do better than to let those active solar energies run into the pond with the warm water. One might even do this artificially. One might artificially arrange things in such a way that one pours warm water into the ponds where goldfish are kept. And especially if you let the water move, so that the solar energies are set in motion, they will stimulate the goldfish to develop a really lively colour. You could make the following experiment. Imagine you have a large artificial pool. You first let warm water run into it, to remain motionless at the bottom, and then add ordinary water on top. And then you put in the goldfish. Now take another artificial pool and run in warm water so that there is a continuous stream of it going in. Now see which fish have the more lively golden yellow colour—not those in calm water but those that have warm water flowing through all the time, for that keeps the energies alive.

In the case of that industrial concern this happens of its own accord, with new warm water running in all the time. So it is not at all surprising that the goldfish do especially well. That is the way nature works. One has to understand these things properly and then one discovers these ways in which nature works.

Now you will say to yourselves: what is it that is so active in the rays of the sun? Well, gentlemen, that is the ether which is also active in our own ether bodies. The ether is active in the sun's rays. And just as the ether is needed to stimulate the astral in us, so it is also out there in the natural world.

The vine has its ether body inside it. Because it is touched by the sun's heat, something astral is created in it, really something from outside this earth, and this acts as alcohol. And we therefore really only gain insight into things by considering the human being both inside the human being and in the world of nature outside.

This brings me to something quite different, something to add now, in these last minutes, concerning Mr Burle's question about clothes. You see, I have told you all sorts of things about clothes, but it is of course interesting that clothing has really evolved out of human instinct so as to be right for the whole nature of the human being. People have three aspects even as physical beings. They have a head, chest organs, where breathing and circulation mainly take place, inner movement, therefore, and they have outer movement in their limbs. In their physical bodies, therefore, people have three parts: the head, the chest system—I always call it the rhythmic system, because everything moves in rhythm—and the external movement of organs, the outer organization of movement.

Now, you see, in the head it is above all the ether body which is active, in the chest, in the blood circulation and the breathing the astral body, and in voluntary movements the I. If you look at all the clothes that are worn, with the exception of some that are excessively simple, among the savages—you know, real savages—you will always see, whatever fiddle-faddle there may be, that clothing essentially consists of three pieces, somehow or other three pieces. Of course, it is always changed a bit; you just have to consider that in the course of history it has changed terribly. Fiddle-faddle has been added, wishy-washy stuff has been added, but essentially all clothing is in three parts. One has developed from the loincloth or apron. In ancient Egypt men would basically only wear aprons. What is the clothing for that people wear? For the limbs. People showed that they could walk on their feet by covering their feet. The energy of the feet, of the movement organization, was meant to be given expression in the apron.

It is interesting that such things are then passed on, and that Freemasons wear an apron as a special distinguishing mark at their gatherings. That is an ancient Egyptian heirloom. Just as people, at least mostly, have no idea why they wear medals, so they have no idea why they wear an apron. The apron is worn as a sign that one is to be particularly active in one's limbs. And from the apron has evolved anything connected with the limbs, our trousers, for example, but so changed that they prevent rather than help us with walking. So that is the situation with the limbs. The Egyptians made their aprons particularly so that they fitted the limbs; they then put their arms through, and so an apron developed with a part that also covered the front of the chest, and sleeves, so that the upper limbs were also held in it.

The second part, gentlemen, was that people also gave expression to the chest system in their clothing. And this system is best given expression in anything like a shift that is pulled on over the head. This was especially developed among the ancient Assyrians. They evolved the shiftlike garment you put your head and arms through and which then hangs straight down. This gave expression to the chest system, with movement internal. That is also why the folds went like that. The Greeks then took this over as it came across from Asia, and added the artistic folds, imitating the way the main blood vessels run. The way it was done was to imitate the most important part of the circulation and flow in there.

The third thing is the coat or cloak. Originally the cloak was thrown not only over the shoulders but also over the head. You can still see this in some areas, where people still do it like that. The cloak is thrown over the head so that it also covers the head. In throwing on the cloak everything coming from the head was given expression. In the apron more the will that lives in the limbs, in the shift-like element—you know we still have a little of this in our waistcoats, but you still see it well developed in a priest's garments, the garment of a Roman Catholic priest—and it is still part of female clothing, the garment for the chest. And the head garment is the cloak. It has gone through changes, of course. Think of a cloak thrown over the shoulders and also the head (Fig. 18). Originally it covered the head. If it is a red cloak it is very beautiful. The red colour is such that one would not seek to distort it. Then came the time of which I spoke the last time, when people no longer paid heed to the colours. They then also made themselves black cloaks or blue ones. And what did they do? They cut it off here and made a separate head covering. It became a hat. One can no longer see that today, but I really have to say that when I see someone coming who is wearing a tail coat and top hat I always say to myself: 'Goodness, how you've changed!' For the tail coat and top hat were a single cloak initially. Then the cloak was cut down, given the horrible form of a tail coat, and up above you still have the top hat to cover the head. Think of top hat and tails and try to cut the hat open in front so that you can cast the whole over your head, and you have the garment from which top hat and tails have evolved. One must therefore go back to the old garments and then one sees where our garments come from; although I do not believe Mr Burle wears top hat and tails so often that this would be the reason why he asked the question (laughter). But it does look like it, as if the head itself had been cut off, when people walk around in top hat and tails.

Figure 18

We'll continue next Wednesday at nine in the morning.