History of Animals
bigger they become more perfectly developed, and many of them grow up.
In Egypt, and in some other places where the women are
fruitful and are wont to bear and bring forth many children without
difficulty, and where the children when born are capable of living
even if they be born subject to deformity, in these places the
eight-months' children live and are brought up, but in Greece it is
only a few of them that survive while most perish. And this being
the general experience, when such a child does happen to survive the
mother is apt to think that it was not an eight months' child after
all, but that she had conceived at an earlier period without being
aware of it.
Women suffer most pain about the fourth and the eighth months, and
if the foetus perishes in the fourth or in the eighth month the mother
also succumbs as a general rule; so that not only do the eight-months'
children not live, but when they die their mothers are in great danger
of their own lives. In like manner children that are apparently born
at a later term than eleven months are held to be in doubtful case;
inasmuch as with them also the beginning of conception may have
escaped the notice of the mother. What I mean to say is that often the
womb gets filled with wind, and then when at a later period
connexion and conception take place, they think that the former
circumstance was the beginning of conception from the similarity of
the symptoms that they experienced.
Such then are the differences between mankind and other
animals in regard to the many various modes of completion of the
term of pregnancy. Furthermore, some animals produce one and some
produce many at a birth, but the human species does sometimes the
one and sometimes the other. As a general rule and among most
nations the women bear one child a birth; but frequently and in many
lands they bear twins, as for instance in Egypt especially.
Sometimes women bring forth three and even four children, and
especially in certain parts of the world, as has already been
stated. The largest number ever brought forth is five, and such an
occurrence has been witnessed on several occasions. There was once
upon a time a certain women who had twenty children at four births;
each time she had five, and most of them grew up.
Now among other animals, if a pair of twins happen to be male
and female they have as good a chance of surviving as though both
had been males or both females; but among mankind very few twins
survive if one happen to be a boy and the other a girl.
Of all animals the woman and the mare are most inclined to
receive the commerce of the male during pregnancy; while all other
animals when they are pregnant avoid the male, save those in which the
phenomenon of superfoetation occurs, such as the hare. Unlike that
animal, the mare after once conceiving cannot be rendered pregnant
again, but brings forth one foal only, at least as a general rule;
in the human species cases of superfoetation are rare, but they do
happen now and then.
An embryo conceived some considerable time after a previous
conception does not come to perfection, but gives rise to pain and
causes the destruction of the earlier embryo; and, by the way, a
case has been known to occur where owing to this destructive influence
no less than twelve embryos conceived by superfoetation have been
discharged. But if the second conception take place at a short
interval, then the mother bears that which was later conceived, and
brings forth the two children like actual twins, as happened,
according to the legend, in the case of Iphicles and Hercules. The
following also is a striking example: a certain woman, having
committed adultery, brought forth the one child resembling her husband
and the other resembling the adulterous lover.
The case has also occurred where a woman, being pregnant of twins,
has subsequently conceived a third child; and in course of time she
brought forth the twins perfect and at full term, but the third a
five-months' child; and this last died there and then. And in