Home | Texts by category | | Quick Search:   
Works by Aristotle
Pages of Meteorology

Previous | Next


natural becoming is a change introduced by these powers into the

matter underlying a given thing when they are in a certain ratio to

that matter, which is the passive qualities we have mentioned. When

the hot and the cold are masters of the matter they generate a

thing: if they are not, and the failure is partial, the object is

imperfectly boiled or otherwise unconcocted. But the strictest general

opposite of true becoming is putrefaction. All natural destruction

is on the way to it, as are, for instance, growing old or growing dry.

Putrescence is the end of all these things, that is of all natural

objects, except such as are destroyed by violence: you can burn, for

instance, flesh, bone, or anything else, but the natural course of

their destruction ends in putrefaction. Hence things that putrefy

begin by being moist and end by being dry. For the moist and the dry

were their matter, and the operation of the active qualities caused

the dry to be determined by the moist.

Destruction supervenes when the determined gets the better of the

determining by the help of the environment (though in a special

sense the word putrefaction is applied to partial destruction, when

a thing's nature is perverted). Hence everything, except fire, is

liable to putrefy; for earth, water, and air putrefy, being all of

them matter relatively to fire. The definition of putrefaction is: the

destruction of the peculiar and natural heat in any moist subject by

external heat, that is, by the heat of the environment. So since

lack of heat is the ground of this affection and everything in as

far as it lacks heat is cold, both heat and cold will be the causes of

putrefaction, which will be due indifferently to cold in the

putrefying subject or to heat in the environment.

This explains why everything that putrefies grows drier and ends

by becoming earth or dung. The subject's own heat departs and causes

the natural moisture to evaporate with it, and then there is nothing

left to draw in moisture, for it is a thing's peculiar heat that

attracts moisture and draws it in. Again, putrefaction takes place

Previous | Next
Site Search