History of Animals
another case it happened that the woman was first delivered of a
seven-months' child, and then of two which were of full term; and of
these the first died and the other two survived.
Some also have been known to conceive while about to miscarry, and
they have lost the one child and been delivered of the other.
If women while going with child cohabit after the eighth month the
child is in most cases born covered over with a slimy fluid. Often
also the child is found to be replete with food of which the mother
When women have partaken of salt in overabundance their children
are apt to be born destitute of nails.
Milk that is produced earlier than the seventh month is unfit
for use; but as soon as the child is fit to live the milk is fit to
use. The first of the milk is saltish, as it is likewise with sheep.
Most women are sensibly affected by wine during pregnancy, for if they
partake of it they grow relaxed and debilitated.
The beginning of child-bearing in women and of the capacity to
procreate in men, and the cessation of these functions in both
cases, coincide in the one case with the emission of seed and in the
other with the discharge of the catamenia: with this qualification
that there is a lack of fertility at the commencement of these
symptoms, and again towards their close when the emissions become
scanty and weak. The age at which the sexual powers begin has been
related already. As for their end, the menstrual discharges ceases
in most women about their fortieth year; but with those in whom it
goes on longer it lasts even to the fiftieth year, and women of that
age have been known to bear children. But beyond that age there is
no case on record.
Men in most cases continue to be sexually competent until they are
sixty years old, and if that limit be overpassed then until seventy
years; and men have been actually known to procreate children at
seventy years of age. With many men and many women it so happens
that they are unable to produce children to one another, while they
are able to do so in union with other individuals. The same thing
happens with regard to the production of male and female offspring;
for sometimes men and women in union with one another produce male
children or female, as the case may be, but children of the opposite
sex when otherwise mated. And they are apt to change in this respect
with advancing age: for sometimes a husband and wife while they are
young produce female children and in later life male children; and
in other cases the very contrary occurs. And just the same thing is
true in regard to the generative faculty: for some while young are
childless, but have children when they grow older; and some have
children to begin with, and later on no more.
There are certain women who conceive with difficulty, but if
they do conceive, bring the child to maturity; while others again
conceive readily, but are unable to bring the child to birth.
Furthermore, some men and some women produce female offspring and some
male, as for instance in the story of Hercules, who among all his
two and seventy children is said to have begotten but one girl.
Those women who are unable to conceive, save with the help of
medical treatment or some other adventitious circumstance, are as a
general rule apt to bear female children rather than male.
It is a common thing with men to be at first sexually
competent and afterwards impotent, and then again to revert to their
From deformed parents come deformed children, lame from lame and
blind from blind, and, speaking generally, children often inherit
anything that is peculiar in their parents and are born with similar
marks, such as pimples or scars. Such things have been known to be