The régime de santé, already by the end of the medieval era a well-developed genre that offered advice on diet and other health practices, found new life in the sixteenth century as the Galenic works on food and hygiene that informed it were translated into Latin and even into vernacular languages. The precepts of this genre entered into the literary culture of early modern France primarily through the avenue of satire, in which characters were defined by the food they ate and by other aspects of the Galenic regimen. Because of its association with treatises on the education of princes, the régime de santé took a political turn, something that is also echoed in satirical literature. One clear example of the politics of the régime de santé is the banquet scene of L’Isle des hermaphrodites (The Island of Hermaphrodites), published in 1605 and circulated widely in Paris. This novel seems at first glance to be a fairly straightforward satire of the excesses of the court of Henri III of France (r. 1574–1589). Yet the banquet scene evokes the flexibility of diet and of other aspects of the Galenic regimen in the profusion and variety of food presented. In linking the practices of the hermaphrodites to contemporary works on the régime de santé, this novel suggests another possibility: a world where the needs of an individual living in a particular environment are met with a diet and way of life appropriate to those needs. In presenting this alternative view, the novel raises the question whether such individualized care is merely self-indulgent or whether it is very much needed in the aftermath of the massive trauma of the Wars of Religion.

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