The Works of Aristotle the Famous Philosopher

Page 63 of 76

Q. How comes sleep to strengthen the stomach and the digestive faculty? A. Because in sleep the heat draws inwards, and helps digestion; but when we awake, the heat returns, and is dispersed through the body.

Of the Gall and Spleen.

Q. How come living creatures to have a gall? A. Because choleric humours are received into it, which through their acidity helps the guts to expel superfluities; also it helps digestion.

Q. How comes the jaundice to proceed from the gall? A. The humour of the gall is bluish and yellow; therefore when its pores are stopped the humour cannot go into the sack thereof, but are mingled with the blood, wandering throughout all the body and infecting the skin.

Q. Why hath a horse, mule, ass or cow a gall? A. Though these creatures have no gall in one place, as in a purse or vessel, yet they have one dispersed in small veins.

Q. How comes the spleen to be black? A. It is occasioned by terrestrial and earthy matter of a black colour. According to physicians, the spleen is the receptacle of melancholy, and that is black.

Q. Why is he lean who hath a large spleen? A. Because the spleen draws much water to itself, which would turn to fat; therefore, men that have a small spleen are fat.

Q. Why does the spleen cause men to laugh, as says Isidorus; "We laugh with the spleen, we are angry with the gall, we are wise with the heart, we love with the liver, we feel with the brain, and speak with the lungs"? A. The reason is, the spleen draws much melancholy to it, being its proper seat, the which melancholy proceeds from sadness, and is there consumed; and the cause failing, the effect doth so likewise. And by the same reason the gall causes anger, for choleric men are often angry, because they have much gall.

Of Carnal Copulation.

Q. Why do living creatures use carnal copulation? A. Because it is most natural in them to get their like.

Q. What is carnal copulation? A. It is a mutual action of male and female, with instruments ordained for that purpose to propagate their kind.

Q. Why is this action good in those that use it lawfully and moderately? A. Because it eases and lightens the body, clears the mind, comforts the head and senses, and expels melancholy.

Q. Why is immoderate carnal copulation hurtful? A. Because it destroys the sight, dries the body, and impairs the brain, often causes fevers and shortens life also.

Q. Why doth carnal copulation injure melancholic or choleric men, especially thin men? A. Because it dries the bones much which are naturally so. On the contrary, it is good for the phlegmatic and sanguine, because they abound with that substance which by nature, is necessarily expelled.

Q. Why should not the act be used when the body is full? A. Because it hinders digestion; and it is not good for a hungry belly, because it weakens.

Q. Why is it not good soon after a bath? A. Because then the pores are open, and the heat dispersed through the body: for after bathing, it cools the body too much.

Q. Why is it not proper after vomiting or looseness? A. Because it is dangerous to purge twice a day; for in this act the veins are purged, and the guts by the vomit.

Q. Why is there such delight in the act of venery? A. Because this act is such a contemptible thing in itself, that all creatures would naturally abhor it were there no pleasure in it; and therefore nature readily uses it, that all kinds of living things should be maintained and kept up.

Q. Why do such as use it often take less delight in it than those who come to it seldom? A. 1. The passages of the seed are over large and wide; and therefore it makes no stay there, which would cause the delight. 2. Through often evacuation there is little seed left, and therefore no delight. 3. Because such, instead of seed there is cast out blood, undigested and raw, or some other watery substance, which is not hot, and therefore affords no delight.

Of the Seed of Man and Beasts.

Q. How, and of what cometh the seed of man? A. Some philosophers and physicians say, it is superfluous humours; others say, that the seed is pure blood, flowing from the brain, concocted and whitened in the testicles; but sweat, urine, spittle, phlegm, choler, and the like, and blood dispersed throughout the whole body, come chiefly from the heart, liver and brain, because those parts are greatly weakened by casting seed; and therefore it appears that frequent carnal copulation is not good.

Q. Why is a man's seed white, and a woman's red? A. It is white in men by reason of great heat and quick digestion, because it is rarefied in the testicles; but a woman's is red, because her terms corrupt the undigested blood, and it hath its colour.

Q. How come females to have monthly courses? A. Because they are cold in respect of men, and because all their nourishment cannot be converted into blood, a great part of which turns to menses, which are monthly expelled.

Q. For what reason do the menses not come down in females before the age of thirteen? A. Because young women are hot, and digest all their nourishment.

Q. For what reason do they leave off at about fifty? A. Because nature is then so exhausted, they cannot expel them by reason of weakness.

Q. Why have not breeding women the menses? A. Because that then they turn into milk, and into the nourishment of the child: for if a woman with child have them, it is a sign that she will miscarry.

Q. Why are they termed menstrua, from the word mensis, a month? A. Because it is a space of time that measures the moon, as she ends her course in twenty-nine days, and fourteen hours.

Q. Why do they continue longer with some than others, as with some six or seven, but commonly with all three days? A. The first are cold, therefore they increase most in them, and consequently are longer expelling; other women are hot, and therefore have fewer and are sooner expelled.

Q. Are the menses which are expelled, and those by which the child is engendered, all one? A. No, because the one are unclean, and unfit for that purpose; but the other very pure and clear, therefore the fittest for generation.

Q. Why have not women their menses all one and the same time, but some in the new moon, some in the full, and others at the wane? A. From their several complexions, and though all women (in respect of men) are phlegmatic, yet some are more sanguine than others, some more choleric; and as the moon hath her quarters, so have women their complexions; the first sanguine, the second choleric.

Q. Why do women easily conceive after their menses? A. Because the womb being cleansed, they are better prepared for conception.

Q. Why do women look pale when they first have their menses upon them? A. Because the heat goes from the outward parts of the body to the inward, to help nature to expel their terms, which deprivation of heat doth cause a paleness in the face. Or, because that flux is caused of raw humours, which, when they run, make the face colourless.

Q. Why do they at that time abhor their meat? A. Because nature labours more to expel their terms than digest; and, therefore, if they should eat, their food would remain raw in the stomach.

Q. Why are some women barren and do not conceive? A. 1. It proceeds sometimes from the man who may be of a cold nature, so that his seed is unfit for generation. 2. Because it is waterish, and so doth not stay in the womb. 3. By reason that the seed of them both hath not a like proportion, as if the man be melancholy and the woman sanguine, or the man choleric and the woman phlegmatic.

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