The Works of Aristotle the Famous Philosopher

Page 66 of 76

Q. Why are not old men so subject to the plague as young men and children? A. They are cold, and their pores are not so open as in youth; and therefore the infecting air doth not penetrate so soon by reason of their coldness.

Q. Why do we cast water in a man's face when he swooneth? A. Because through the coldness of water the heat may run to the heart, and so give strength.

Q. Why are those waters best and most delicate which run towards the rising sun? A. Because they are soonest stricken with the sunbeams, and made pure and subtle, the sun having them under it, and by that means taking off the coldness and gross vapours which they gather from the ground they run through.

Q. Why have women such weak and small voices? A. Because their instruments and organs of speaking, by reason of their coldness, are small and narrow; and therefore, receiving but little air, cause the voice to be effeminate.

Q. Whereof doth it proceed that want of sleep doth weaken the brain and body? A. Much watching doth engender choler, the which being hot both dry up and lessen the humours which serve the brain, the head, and other parts of the body.

Q. Wherefore doth vinegar so readily staunch blood? A. From its cold virtue, for all cold is naturally binding, and vinegar being cold, hath the like property.

Q. Why is sea-water salter in summer than in winter? A. From the heat of the sun, seeing by experiment that a salt thing being heated becometh more salt.

Q. Why do men live longer in hot regions than in cold? A. Because they may be more dry, and by that means the natural heat is better preserved in them than in cold countries.

Q. Why is well-water seldom or ever good? A. All water which standeth still in the spring and is never heated by the sunbeams, is very heavy, and hath much matter in it, and therefore wanting the heat of the sun, is naught.

Q. Why do men sleep better and more at ease on the right side than on the left? A. Because when they be on the left side, the lungs do lie upon and cover the heart, which is on that side under the pap; now the heart, the fountain of life, being thus occupied and hindered with the lungs, cannot exercise its own proper operation, as being overmuch heated with the lungs lying upon it, and therefore wanting the refreshment of the air which the lungs do give it, like the blowing of a pair of bellows, is choked and suffocated, but by lying on the right side, those inconveniences are avoided.

Q. What is the reason that old men sneeze with great difficulty? A. Because that through their coldness their arteries are very narrow and close, and therefore the heat is not of force to expel the cold.

Q. Why doth a drunken man think that all things about him do turn round? A. Because the spirits which serve the sight are mingled with vapours and fumes, arising from the liquors he has drunk; the overmuch heat causeth the eye to be in continual motion, and the eye being round, causeth all things about it to seem to go round.

Q. Wherefore doth it proceed, that bread which is made with salt is lighter than that which is made without it, considering that salt is very heavy of itself? A. Although bread is very heavy of itself, yet the salt dries it and makes it light, by reason of the heat which it hath; and the more heat there is in it, the better the bread is, and the lighter and more wholesome for the body.

Q. Why is not new bread good for the stomach? A. Because it is full of moistness, and thick, hot vapours, which do corrupt the blood, and hot bread is blacker than cold, because heat is the mother of blackness, and because the vapours are not gone out of it.

Q. Why do lettuces make a man sleep? A. Because they engender gross vapours.

Q. Why do the dregs of wine and oil go to the bottom, and those of honey swim uppermost? A. Because the dregs of wine and oil are earthly, and therefore go to the bottom; but honey is a liquid that cometh from the stomach and belly of the bee; and is there in some sort putrefied and made subtle; on which account the dregs are most light and hot, and therefore go uppermost.

Q. Why do cats' and wolves' eyes shine in the night, and not in the day? A. The eyes of these beasts are by nature more crystalline than the eyes of other beasts, and therefore do so shine in darkness; but the brightness of the sun doth hinder them from being seen in the day-time.

Q. What is the reason that some men, if they see others dance, do the like with their hands and feet, or by other gestures of the body? A. Because the sight having carried and represented unto the mind that action, and judging the same to be pleasant and delightful, and therefore the imagination draweth the like of it in conceit and stirs up the body by the gestures.

Q. Why does much sleep cause some to grow fat and some lean? A. Those who are of ill complexion, when they sleep, do consume and digest the superfluities of what they have eaten, and therefore become fat. But such as are of good complexion, when they sleep are more cold, and digest less.

Q. How much, and from what cause do we suffer hunger better than thirst? A. When the stomach hath nothing else to consume, it consumeth the phlegm and humours which it findeth most ready and most at hand; and therefore we suffer hunger better than thirst, because the heat hath nothing to refresh itself with.

Q. Why doth the hair fall after a great sickness? A. Where the sickness is long, as in the ague, the humours of the head are dried up through overmuch heat, and, therefore, wanting nourishment, the hair falls.

Q. Why doth the hair of the eyebrows grow long in old men? A. Because through their age the bones are thin through want of heat, and therefore the hair doth grow there, by reason of the rheum of the eye.

Q. Whereof proceedeth gaping? A. Of gross vapours, which occupy the vital spirits of the head, and of the coldness of the senses causing sleepiness.

Q. What is the reason that some flowers do open with the sun rising, and shut with the sun setting? A. Cold doth close and shut, as hath been said, but the heat of the sun doth open and enlarge. Some compare the sun to the soul of the body; for as the soul giveth life, so the sun doth give life, and vivificate all things; but cold bringeth death, withering and decaying all things.

Q. Why doth grief cause men to grow old and grey? A. Age is nothing else but dryness and want of humours in the body; grief then causeth alteration, and heat dryness; age and greyness follow immediately.

Q. Why are gelded beasts weaker than such as are not gelded? A. Because they have less heat, and by that means less force and strength.


Q. Why is it esteemed, in the judgment of the most wise, the hardest thing to know a man's self? A. Because nothing can be known that is of so great importance to man for the regulation of his conduct in life. Without this knowledge, man is like the ship without either compass or rudder to conduct her to port, and is tossed by every passion and prejudice to which his natural constitution is subjected. To know the form and perfection of man's self, according to the philosophers, is a task too hard; and a man, says Plato, is nothing, or if he be anything, he is nothing, but his soul.

Q. Why is a man, though endowed with reason, the most unjust of all living creatures? A. Because only man is desirous of honour; and so it happens that every one covets to seem good, and yet naturally shuns labour, though he attain no virtue by it.

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