The Works of Aristotle the Famous Philosopher

Page 67 of 76

Q. Why doth immoderate copulation do more hurt than immoderate letting of blood? A. The seed is full of nutriment, and better prepared for the nurture of the body, than the blood; for the blood is nourished by the seed.

Q. What is the reason that those that have long yards cannot beget children? A. The seed, in going a long distance, doth lose the spirit, and therefore becomes cold and unfit.

Q. Why do such as are corpulent cast forth but little seed in the act of copulation, and are often barren? A. Because the seed of such goeth to nourish the body. For the same reason corpulent women have but few menses.

Q. How come women to be prone to venery in the summer time and men in the winter? A. In summer the man's testicles hang down and are feebler than in winter, or because hot natures become more lively in the cold season; for a man is hot and dry, and a woman cold and moist; and therefore in summer the strength of men decays, and that of women increases, and they grow livelier by the benefit of the contrary quality.

Q. Why is man the proudest of all living creatures? A. By reason of his great knowledge; or, as philosophers say, all intelligent beings having understanding, nothing remains that escapes man's knowledge in particular; or it is because he hath rule over all earthly creatures, and all things seem to be brought under his dominion.

Q. Why have beasts their hearts in the middle of their breasts, and man his inclining to the left? A. To moderate the cold on that side.

Q. Why doth the woman love the man best who has got her maidenhead? A. By reason of shame-facedness; Plato saith, shame-facedness doth follow love, or, because it is the beginning of great pleasure, which doth bring a great alteration in the whole body, whereby the powers of the mind are much delighted, and stick and rest immoveable in the same.

Q. How come hairy people to be more lustful than any other? A. Because they are said to have greater store of excrements and seed as philosophers assert.

Q. What is the cause that the suffocation of the matrix, which happens to women through strife and contention, is more dangerous than the detaining of the flowers? A. Because the more perfect an excrement is in its natural disposition, the worse it is when it is altered from that disposition, and drawn to the contrary quality; as is seen in vinegar, which is sharpest when it is made of the best wine. And so it happens that the more men love one another the more they fall into variance and discord.

Q. How come women's bodies to be looser, softer and less than man's; and why do they want hair? A. By reason of their menses; for with them their superfluities go away, which would produce hair; and thereby the flesh is filled, consequently the veins are more hid in women than in men.

Q. What is the reason that when we think upon a horrible thing, we are stricken with fear? A. Because the conceit or imagination of things has force and virtue. For Plato saith, the fancy of things has some affinity with things themselves; for the image and representation of cold and heat is such as the nature of things are. Or it is this, because when we comprehend any dreadful matter, the blood runneth to the internal parts; and therefore the external parts are cold and shake with fear.

Q. Why doth a radish root help digestion and yet itself remaineth undigested? A. Because the substance consisteth of divers parts; for there are some thin parts in it, which are fit to digest meat, the which being dissolved, there doth remain some thick and close substance in it, which the heat cannot digest.

Q. Why do such as cleave wood, cleave it easier in the length than athwart? A. Because in the wood there is a grain, whereby, if it be cut in length, in the very cutting, one part naturally separateth from another.

Q. What is the reason, that if a spear be stricken on the end, the sound cometh sooner to one who standeth near, than to him who striketh? A. Because, as hath been said, there is a certain long grain in wood, directly forward, filled with air, but on the other side there is none, and therefore a beam or spear being stricken on the end, the air which is hidden receiveth a sound in the aforesaid grain which serveth for its passage; and, seeing the sound cannot go easily out of it is carried into the ear of him who is opposite; as those passages do not go from side to side, a sound cannot be distinctly heard there.

Q. Why are the thighs and calves of the legs of men flesh, seeing the legs of beasts are not so? A. Because men only go upright; and therefore nature hath given the lower parts corpulency, and taken it away from the upper; and thus she hath made the buttocks, the thighs, and calves of the legs fleshy.

Q. Why are the sensible powers in the heart; yet if the hinder part of the brain be hurt, the memory suffereth by it; if the forepart, the imagination; if the middle, the cogitative part? A. It is because the brain is appointed by nature to cool the blood of the heart; whereof it is, that in divers of its parts it serveth the powers and instruments with their heart, for every action of the soul doth not proceed from one measure of heat.


Q. Why doth the sun make a man black and dirt white, wax soft and dirt hard? A. By reason of the disposition of the substance that doth suffer. All humours, phlegm excepted, when heated above measure, do seem black about the skin; and dirt, being full either of saltpetre, or salt liquor, when the sun hath consumed its dregs and filth, doth become white again. When the sun hath stirred up and drawn the humidity of the wax, it is softened; but in the dirt, the sun doth consume the humidity, which is very much and makes it hard.

Q. Why are round ulcers hard to be cured? A. Because they are bred of a sharp choler, which eats and gnaws; and because it doth run, dropping and gnawing, it makes a round ulcer; for which reason it requires dry medicines, as physicians assert.

Q. Why is honey sweet to all men, but to such as have jaundice? A. Because they have much bitter choler all over their bodies, which abounds in the tongue; whence it happens when they eat honey the humours are stirred, and the taste itself, by the bitterness of choler, causes an imagination that the honey is bitter.

Q. Why doth water cast on serpents, cause them to fly? A. Because they are dry and cold by nature, having but little blood, and therefore fly from excessive coldness.

Q. Why doth an egg break if roasted, and not if boiled? A. When moisture comes near the fire, it is heated very much, and so breeds wind, which being put up in little room, forces its way out, and breaks the shell: the like happens in tubs or earthen vessels when new wine is put into them; too much phlegm breaks the shell of an egg in roasting; it is the same with earthen pots too much heated; wherefore some people wet an egg when they intend to roast it. Hot water, by its softness, doth dissipate its humidity by little and little, and dissolves it through the thinness and passages of the shell.

Q. Why do men wink in the act of copulation, and find a little alteration in all other senses? A. Because, being overcome by the effect of that pleasure, they do comprehend it the better.

Q. Why have children gravel breeding in their bladders, and old men in their kidneys and veins? A. Because children have straight passages in their kidneys, and an earthly thick humour is thrust with violence by the urine to the bladder, which hath wide conduits or passages, that give room for the urine and humour whereof gravel is engendered, which waxes thick, and seats itself, as the manner of it is. In old men it is the reverse, for they have wide passages of the veins, back and kidneys, that the urine may pass away, and the earthly humour congeal and sink down; the colour of the gravel shows the humour whereof the stone comes.

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