The Works of Aristotle the Famous Philosopher

Page 55 of 76

Q. Why are the heads of men hairy? A. The hair is the ornament of the head, and the brain is purged of gross humours by the growing of the hair, from the highest to the lowest, which pass through the pores of the exterior flesh, become dry, and are converted into hair. This appears to be the case, from the circumstance that in all man's body there is nothing drier than the hair, for it is drier than the bones; and it is well known that some beasts are nourished with bones, as dogs, but they cannot digest feathers or hair, but void them undigested, being too hot for nourishment. 2. It is answered, that the brain is purged in three different ways; of superfluous watery humours by the eyes, of choler by the nose, and of phlegm by the hair, which is the opinion of the best physicians.

Q. Why have men longer hair on their heads than any other living creature? A. Arist. de Generat. Anim. says, that men have the moistest brain of all living creatures from which the seed proceedeth which is converted into the long hair of the head. 2. The humours of men are fat, and do not become dry easily; and therefore the hair groweth long on them. In beasts, the humours easily dry, and therefore the hair groweth not so long.

Q. Why doth the hair take deeper root in man's skin than in that of any other living creatures? A. Because it has greater store of nourishment in man, and therefore grows more in the inward parts of man. And this is the reason why in other creatures the hair doth alter and change with the skin, and not in man, unless by a scar or wound.

Q. Why have women longer hair than men? A. Because women are moister and more phlegmatic than men, and therefore there is more matter for hair to them, and, by consequence, the length also of their hair. And, furthermore, this matter is more increased in women than men from their interior parts, and especially in the time of their monthly terms, because the matter doth then ascend, whereby the humour that breedeth the hair, doth increase. 2. Because women want beards; so the matter of the beard doth go into that of the hair.

Q. Why have some women soft hair and some hard? A. 1. The hair hath proportion with the skin; of which some is hard, some thick, some subtle and soft, some gross; therefore, the hair which grows out of thick, gross skin, is thick and gross; that which groweth out of a subtle and fine skin, is fine and soft; when the pores are open, then cometh forth much humour, and therefore hard hair is engendered; and when the pores are strait, then there doth grow soft and fine hair. This doth evidently appear in men, because women have softer hair than they; for in women the pores are shut and strait, by reason of their coldness. 2. Because for the most part, choleric men have harder and thicker hair than others, by reason of their heat, and because their pores are always open, and therefore they have beards sooner than others. For this reason also, beasts that have hard hair are boldest, because such have proceeded from heat and choler, examples of which we have in the bear and the boar; and contrariwise, those beasts that have soft hair are fearful, because they are cold, as the hare and the hart. 3. From the climate where a man is born; because in hot regions hard and gross hair is engendered, as appears in the Ethiopians, and the contrary is the case is cold countries toward the north.

Q. Why have some men curled hair, and some smooth? A. From the superior degree of heat in some men, which makes the hair curl and grow upward; this is proved by a man's having smooth hair when he goes into a hot bath, and it afterwards becomes curled. Therefore keepers of baths have often curled hair, as also Ethiopians and choleric men. But the cause of this smoothness, is the abundance of moist humours.

Q. Why do women show ripeness by hair in their privy parts, and not elsewhere, but men in their breasts? A. Because in men and women there is abundance of humidity in that place, but most in women, as men have the mouth of the bladder in that place, where the urine is contained, of which the hair in the breast is engendered, and especially that about the navel. But of women in general, it is said, that the humidity of the bladder of the matrix, or womb, is joined and meeteth in that lower secret place, and therefore is dissolved and separated in that place into vapours and fumes, which are the cause of hair. And the like doth happen in other places, as in the hair under the arms.

Q. Why have not women beards? A. Because they want heat; which is the case with some effeminate men, who are beardless from the same cause, to have complexions like women.

Q. Why doth the hair grow on those that are hanged? A. Because their bodies are exposed to the sun, which, by its heat doth dissolve all moisture into the fume or vapour of which the hair doth grow.

Q. Why is the hair of the beard thicker and grosser than elsewhere; and the more men are shaven, the harder and thicker it groweth? A. Because by so much as the humours or vapours of a liquid are dissolved and taken away, so much the more doth the humour remaining draw to the same; and therefore the more the hair is shaven, the thicker the humours gather which engender the hair, and cause it to wax hard.

Q. Why are women smooth and fairer than men? A. Because in women much of the humidity and superfluity, which are the matter and cause of the hair of the body, is expelled with their monthly terms; which superfluity, remaining in men, through vapours passes into hair.

Q. Why doth man, above all other creatures, wax hoary and gray? A. Because man hath the hottest heart of all living creatures; and therefore, nature being most wise, lest a man should be suffocated through the heat of his heart, hath placed the heart, which is most hot, under the brain, which is most cold; to the end that the heat of the heart may be tempered by the coldness of the brain; and contrariwise, that the coldness of the brain may be qualified by the heat of the heart; and thereby there might be a temperature in both. A proof of this is, that of all living creatures man hath the worst breath when he comes to full age. Furthermore, man doth consume nearly half his time in sleep, which doth proceed from the great excess of coldness and moisture in the brain, and from his wanting natural heat to digest and consume that moisture, which heat he hath in his youth, and therefore, in that age is not gray, but in old age, when heat faileth; because then the vapours ascending from the stomach remain undigested and unconsumed for want of natural heat, and thus putrefy, on which putrefaction of humours that the whiteness doth follow, which is called grayness or hoariness. Whereby it doth appear, that hoariness is nothing but a whiteness of hair, caused by a putrefaction of the humours about the roots of the hair, through the want of natural heat in old age. Sometimes all grayness is caused by the naughtiness of the complexion, which may happen in youth: sometimes through over great fear and care as appeareth in merchants, sailors and thieves.

Q. Why doth red hair grow white sooner than hair of any other colour? A. Because redness is an infirmity of the hair; for it is engendered of a weak and infirm matter, that is, of matter corrupted with the flowers of the woman; and therefore it waxes white sooner than any other colour.

Q. Why do wolves grow grisly? A. To understand this question, note the difference between grayness and grisliness; grayness is caused through defect of natural heat, but grisliness through devouring and heat. The wolf being a devouring beast, he eateth gluttonously without chewing, and enough at once for three days; in consequence of which, gross vapours engendered in the wolf's body, which cause grisliness. Grayness and grisliness have this difference; grayness is only in the head, but grisliness all over the body.

Free Learning Resources