The Works of Aristotle the Famous Philosopher

Page 58 of 76

Q. Why hath the mouth lips to compass it? A. Because the lips cover and defend the teeth; for it would be unseemly if the teeth were always seen. Also, the teeth being of a cold nature, would be soon hurt if they were not covered with lips.

Q. Why has a man two eyes and but one mouth? A. Because a man should speak but little, and hear and see much. And by hearing and the light we see difference of things.

Q. Why hath a man a mouth? A. 1. Because the mouth is the gate and door of the stomach. 2. Because the meat is chewed in the mouth, and prepared and made ready for the first digestion. 3. Because the air drawn into the hollow of the mouth for the refreshing of the heart, is made pure and subtle.

Q. Why are the lips moveable? A. For the purpose of forming the voice and words which cannot be perfectly done without them. For as without a, b, c, there is no writing, so without the lips no voice can well be formed.

Q. What causes men to yawn or gape? A. It proceeds from the thick fume and vapours that fill the jaws; by the expulsion of which is caused the stretching out and expansion of the jaws, and opening of the mouth.

Q. Why doth a man gape when he seeth another do the same? A. It proceeds from the imagination. And this is proved by the similitude of the ass, who by reason of his melancholy, doth retain his superfluity for a long time, and would neither eat nor piss unless he should hear another doing the like.

Of the Teeth.

Q. Why do the teeth only, amongst all ether bones, experience the sense of feeling? A. That they may discern heat and cold, that hurt them, which other bones need not.

Q. Why have men more teeth than women? A. By reason of the abundance of heat and cold which is more in men than in women.

Q. Why do the teeth grow to the end of our life, and not the other bones? A. Because otherwise they would be consumed with chewing and grinding.

Q. Why do the teeth only come again when they fall, or be taken out, and other bones being taken away, grow no more? A. Because other bones are engendered of the humidity which is called radical, and so they breed in the womb of the mother, but the teeth are engendered of nutritive humidity, which is renewed and increased from day to day.

Q. Why do the fore-teeth fall in youth, and grow again, and not the cheek teeth? A. From the defect of matter, and from the figure; because the fore-teeth are sharp, and the others broad. Also, it is the office of the fore-teeth to cut the meat, and therefore they are sharp; and the office of the others to chew the meat, and therefore they are broad in fashion, which is fittest for that purpose.

Q. Why do the fore-teeth grow soonest? A. Because we want them sooner in cutting than the others in chewing.

Q. Why do the teeth grow black in human creatures in their old age? A. It is occasioned by the corruption of the meat, and the corruption of phlegm with a choleric humour.

Q. Why are colts' teeth yellow, and of the colour of saffron, when they are young, and become white when they grow up? A. Because horses have abundance of watery humours in them, which in their youth are digested and converted into grossness; but in old age heat diminishes, and the watery humours remain, whose proper colour is white.

Q. Why did nature give living creatures teeth? A. To some to fight with, and for defence of their lives, as unto wolves and bears, unto some to eat with, as unto horses, unto some for the forming of the voices, as unto men.

Q. Why do horned beasts want their upper teeth? A. Horns and teeth are caused by the same matter, that is, nutrimental humidity, and therefore the matter which passeth into the horns turneth not into teeth, consequently they want the upper teeth. And such beasts cannot chew well; therefore, to supply the want of teeth, they have two stomachs, from whence it returns and they chew it again, then it goes into the other to be digested.

Q. Why are some creatures brought forth with teeth, as kids and lambs; and some without, as men? A. Nature doth not want in necessary things, nor abound in things superfluous; and therefore, because these beasts, not long after they are fallen, do need teeth, they are fallen with teeth; but men, being nourished by their mother, for a long time do not stand in need of teeth.

Of the Tongue.

Q. Why is the tongue full of pores? A. Because the tongue is the means whereby which we taste; and through the mouth, in the pores of the tongue, doth proceed the sense of tasting. Again, it is observed, that frothy spittle is sent into the mouth by the tongue from the lungs, moistening the meat and making it ready for digestion.

Q. Why do the tongues of such as are sick of agues judge all things bitter? A. Because the stomachs of such persons are filled with choleric humours; and choler is very bitter, as appeareth by the gall; therefore this bitter fume doth infect their tongues; and so the tongue, being full of these tastes, doth judge everything bitter.

Q. Why doth the tongue water when we hear sour and sharp things spoken of? A. Because the imaginative virtue or power is of greater force than the power or faculty of tasting; and when we imagine a taste, we conceive the power of tasting as a swan; there is nothing felt by the taste, but by means of the spittle the tongue doth water.

Q. Why do some persons stammer and lisp? A. Sometimes through the moistness of the tongue and brain, as in children, who cannot speak plainly nor pronounce many letters. Sometimes it happeneth by reason of the shrinking of certain sinews which go to the tongue, which are corrupted with phlegm.

Q. Why are the tongues of serpents and mad dogs venomous? A. Because of the malignity and tumosity of the venomous humour which predominates in them.

Q. Why is a dog's tongue good for medicine, and a horse's tongue pestiferous? A. By reason of some secret property, or that the tongue of a dog is full of pores, and so doth draw and take away the viscosity of the wound. It is observed that a dog hath some humour in his tongue, with which, by licking he doth heal; but the contrary effect is the lick of a horse's tongue.

Q. Why is spittle white? A. By reason of the continual moving of the tongue, whereof heat is engendered, which doth make this superfluity white; as seen in the froth of water.

Q. Why is spittle unsavoury and without taste? A. If it had a certain determinate taste, then the tongue would not taste at all, but only have the taste of spittle, and could not distinguish others.

Q. Why doth the spittle of one that is fasting heal an imposthume? A. Because it is well digested and made subtle.

Q. Why do some abound in spittle more than others? A. This doth proceed of a phlegmatic complexion, which doth predominate in them; and such are liable to a quotidian ague, which ariseth from the predominance of phlegm; the contrary in those that spit little, because heat abounds in them, which consumes the humidity of the spittle; and so the defect of spittle is a sign of fever.

Q. Why is the spittle of a man that is fasting more subtle than of one that is full? A. Because the spittle is without the viscosity of meat, which is wont to make the spittle of one who is full, gross and thick.

Q. From whence proceeds the spittle of a man? A. From the froth of the lungs, which according to the physicians, is the seat of the phlegm.

Q. Why are beasts when going together for generation very full of froth and foam? A. Because then the lights and heart are in greater motion of lust; therefore there is engendered in them much frothy matter.

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