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History of Animals   


The frame fails of reaching its full development and ages
quickly in men of intemperate lusts and in women who become mothers of
many children; for it appears to be the case that growth ceases when
the woman has given birth to three children. Women of a lascivious
disposition grow more sedate and virtuous after they have borne
several children.
After the age of twenty-one women are fully ripe for
child-bearing, but men go on increasing in vigour. When the
spermatic fluid is of a thin consistency it is infertile; when
granular it is fertile and likely to produce male children, but when
thin and unclotted it is apt to produce female offspring. And it is
about this time of life that in men the beard makes its appearance.
2

The onset of the catamenia in women takes place towards the end of
the month; and on this account the wiseacres assert that the moon is
feminine, because the discharge in women and the waning of the moon
happen at one and the same time, and after the wane and the
discharge both one and the other grow whole again. (In some women
the catamenia occur regularly but sparsely every month, and more
abundantly every third month.) With those in whom the ailment lasts
but a little while, two days or three, recovery is easy; but where the
duration is longer, the ailment is more troublesome. For women are
ailing during these days; and sometimes the discharge is sudden and
sometimes gradual, but in all cases alike there is bodily distress
until the attack be over. In many cases at the commencement of the
attack, when the discharge is about to appear, there occur spasms
and rumbling noises within the womb until such time as the discharge
manifests itself.
Under natural conditions it is after recovery from these
symptoms that conception takes place in women, and women in whom the
signs do not manifest themselves for the most part remain childless.
But the rule is not without exception, for some conceive in spite of
the absence of these symptoms; and these are cases in which a
secretion accumulates, not in such a way as actually to issue forth,
but in amount equal to the residuum left in the case of
child-bearing women after the normal discharge has taken place. And
some conceive while the signs are on but not afterwards, those
namely in whom the womb closes up immediately after the discharge.
In some cases the menses persist during pregnancy up to the very last;
but the result in these cases is that the offspring are poor, and
either fail to survive or grow up weakly.
In many cases, owing to excessive desire, arising either from
youthful impetuosity or from lengthened abstinence, prolapsion of
the womb takes place and the catamenia appear repeatedly, thrice in
the month, until conception occurs; and then the womb withdraws
upwards again to its proper place...
As we have remarked above, the discharge is wont to be more
abundant in women than in the females of any other animals. In
creatures that do not bring forth their young alive nothing of the
sort manifests itself, this particular superfluity being converted
into bodily substance; and by the way, in such animals the females are
sometimes larger than the males; and moreover, the material is used up
sometimes for scutes and sometimes for scales, and sometimes for the
abundant covering of feathers, whereas in the vivipara possessed of
limbs it is turned into hair and into bodily substance (for man
alone among them is smooth-skinned), and into urine, for this
excretion is in the majority of such animals thick and copious. Only
in the case of women is the superfluity turned into a discharge
instead of being utilized in these other ways.
There is something similar to be remarked of men: for in
proportion to his size man emits more seminal fluid than any other
animal (for which reason man is the smoothest of animals),
especially such men as are of a moist habit and not over corpulent,

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