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On Longevity And Shortness Of Life   


The following considerations may enable us to understand the reasons

for all these facts. We must remember that an animal is by nature

humid and warm, and to live is to be of such a constitution, while old

age is dry and cold, and so is a corpse. This is plain to observation.

But the material constituting the bodies of all things consists of the

following-the hot and the cold, the dry and the moist. Hence when they

age they must become dry, and therefore the fluid in them requires

to be not easily dried up. Thus we explain why fat things are not

liable to decay. The reason is that they contain air; now air

relatively to the other elements is fire, and fire never becomes

corrupted.

Again the humid element in animals must not be small in quantity,

for a small quantity is easily dried up. This is why both plants and

animals that are large are, as a general rule, longer-lived than the

rest, as was said before; it is to be expected that the larger

should contain more moisture. But it is not merely this that makes

them longer lived; for the cause is twofold, to wit, the quality as

well as the quantity of the fluid. Hence the moisture must be not only

great in amount but also warm, in order to be neither easily congealed

nor easily dried up.

It is for this reason also that man lives longer than some animals

which are larger; for animals live longer though there is a deficiency

in the amount of their moisture, if the ratio of its qualitative

superiority exceeds that of its quantitative deficiency.

In some creatures the warm element is their fatty substance, which

prevents at once desiccation and congelation; but in others it assumes

a different flavour. Further, that which is designed to be not

easily destroyed should not yield waste products. Anything of such a

nature causes death either by disease or naturally, for the potency of

the waste product works adversely and destroys now the entire

constitution, now a particular member.

This is why salacious animals and those abounding in seed age

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