The Works of Aristotle the Famous Philosopher

Page 69 of 76

Q. Why does not the hair of the feet soon grow grey? A. For this reason, because that through great motion they disperse and dissolve the superfluous phlegm that breeds greyness. The hair of the secrets grows very late, because of the place, and because that in carnal copulation it dissolves the phlegm also.

Q. Why, if you put hot burnt barley upon a horse's sore, is the hair which grows upon the sore not white, but like the other hair? A. Because it hath the force of expelling; and doth drive away and dissolve the phlegm, as well as all other unprofitable matter that is gathered together through the weakness of the parts, or condity of the sore.

Q. Why doth the hair never grow on an ulcer or bile? A. Because man hath a thick skin, as is seen by the thickness of his hair; and if the scar be thicker than the skin itself, it stops the passages from whence the hair should grow. Horses have thinner skins, as is plain by their hair; therefore all passages are not stopped in their wounds and sores; and after the excrements which were gathered together have broken a passage through those small pores the hair doth grow.

Q. Why is Fortune painted with a double forehead, the one side bald and the other hairy? A. The baldness signifies adversity, and hairiness prosperity, which we enjoy when it pleaseth her.

Q. Why have some commended flattery? A. Because flattery setteth forth before our eyes what we ought to be, though not what we are.

Q. Wherefore should virtue be painted girded? A. To show that virtuous men should not be slothful, but diligent and always in action.

Q. Why did the ancients say it was better to fall into the hands of a raven than a flatterer? A. Because ravens do not eat us till we be dead, but flatterers devour us alive.

Q. Why have choleric men beards before others? A. Because they are hot, and their pores large.

Q. How comes it that such as have the hiccups do ease themselves by holding their breath? A. The breath retained doth heat the interior parts of the body, and the hiccups proceeds from cold.

Q. How comes it that old men remember well what they have seen and done in their youth, and forget such things as they see and do in their old age? A. Things learned in youth take deep root and habitude in a person, but those learned in age are forgotten because the senses are then weakened.

Q. What kind of covetousness is best? A. That of time when employed as it ought to be.

Q. Why is our life compared to a play? A. Because the dishonest do occupy the place of the honest, and the worst sort the room of the good.

Q. Why do dolphins, when they appear above the water, denote a storm or tempest approaching? A. Because at the beginning of a tempest there do arise from the bottom of the sea, certain hot exhalations and vapours which heat the dolphins, causing them to rise up for cold air.

Q. Why did the Romans call Fabius Maximus the target of the people, and Marcellus the sword? A. Because the one adapted himself to the service of the commonwealth, and the other was very eager to revenge the injuries of his country; and yet they were in the senate joined together, because the gravity of the one would moderate the courage and boldness of the other.

Q. Why doth the shining of the moon hurt the head? A. Because it moves the humours of the brain, and cannot afterwards dissolve them.

Q. If water do not nourish, why do men drink it? A. Because water causeth the nutriment to spread through the body.

Q. Why is sneezing good? A. Because it purgeth the brain as milk is purged by the cough.

Q. Why is hot water lighter than cold? A. Because boiling water has less ventosity and is more light and subtle, the earthly and heavy substance being separated from it.

Q. How comes marsh and pond water to be bad? A. By reason they are phlegmatic, and do corrupt in summer; the fineness of water is turned into vapours, and the earthiness doth remain.

Q. Why are studious and learned men soonest bald? A. It proceeds from a weakness of the spirits, or because warmth of digestion cause phlegm to abound in them.

Q. Why doth much watching make the brain feeble? A. Because it increases choler, which dries and extenuates the body.

Q. Why are boys apt to change their voices about fourteen years of age? A. Because that then nature doth cause a great and sudden change of voice; experience proves this to be true; for at that time we may see that women's paps do grow great, do hold and gather milk, and also those places that are above their hips, in which the young fruit would remain. Likewise men's breasts and shoulders, which then can bear great and heavy burdens; also their stones in which their seed may increase and abide, and in their privy members, to let out the seed with ease. Further all the body is made bigger and dilated, as the alteration and change of every part doth testify, and the harshness of the voice and hoarseness; for the rough artery, the wind pipe, being made wide in the beginning, and the exterior and outward part being unequal to the throat, the air going out the rough, unequal and uneven pipe doth then become unequal and sharp, and after, hoarse, something like unto the voice of a goat, wherefore it has its name called Bronchus. The same doth also happen to them unto whose rough artery distillation doth follow; it happens by reason of the drooping humidity that a slight small skin filled unequally causes the uneven going forth of the spirit and air. Understand, that the windpipe of goats is such by reason of the abundance of humidity. The like doth happen unto all such as nature hath given a rough artery, as unto cranes. After the age of fourteen they leave off that voice, because the artery is made wider and reacheth its natural evenness and quality.

Q. Why do hard dens, hollow and high places, send back the likeness and sound of the voice? A. Because that in such places also by reflection do return back the image of a sound, for the voice doth beat the air, and the air the place, which the more it is beaten the more it doth bear, and therefore doth cause the more vehement sound of the voice; moist places, and as it were, soft, yielding to the stroke, and dissolving it, give no sound again; for according to the quantity of the stroke, the quality and quantity of the voice is given, which is called an echo. Some do idly fable that she is a goddess; some say that Pan was in love with her, which without doubt is false. He was some wise man, who did first desire to search out the cause of the voice, and as they who love, and cannot enjoy that love, are grieved, so in like manner was he very sorry until he found out the solution of that cause; as Endymion also, who first found out the course of the moon, watching all night, and observing her course, and searching her motion, did sleep in the daytime, and that she came to him when he was asleep, because she did give the philosopher the solution of the course herself. They say also that he was a shepherd, because that in the desert and high places, he did mark the course of the moon. And they gave him also the pipe because that the high places are blown with wind, or else because he sought out the consonancy of figures. Prometheus also, being a wise man, sought the course of the star, which is called the eagle in the firmament, his nature and place; and when he was, as it were, wasted with the desire of learning, then at last he rested, when Hercules did resolve unto him all doubts with his wisdom.

Q. Why do not swine cry when they are carried with their snouts upwards? A. Because that of all other beasts they bend more to the earth. They delight in filth, and that they seek, and therefore in the sudden change of their face, they be as it were strangers, and being amazed with so much light do keep that silence; some say the windpipe doth close together by reason of the straitness of it.

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