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On The Generation Of Animals   


The young of some birds also are hatched imperfect, that is to say
blind; this applies to all small birds which lay many eggs, as crows
and rooks, jays, sparrows, swallows, and to all those which lay few
eggs without producing abundant nourishment along with the young, as
ring-doves, turtle-doves, and pigeons. Hence if the eyes of swallows
while still young be put out they recover their sight again, for the
birds are still developing, not yet developed, when the injury is
inflicted, so that the eyes grow and sprout afresh. And in general the
production of young before they are perfect is owing to inability to
continue nourishing them, and they are born imperfect because they are
born too soon. This is plain also with seven-months children, for
since they are not perfected it often happens that even the
passages, e.g. of the ears and nostrils, are not yet opened in some of
them at birth, but only open later as they are growing, and many
such infants survive.

In man males are more often born defective than females, but in
the other animals this is not the case. The reason is that in man
the male is much superior to the female in natural heat, and so the
male foetus moves about more than the female, and on account of moving
is more liable to injury, for what is young is easily injured since it
is weak. For this same reason also the female foetus is not
perfected equally with the male in man (but they are so in the
other animals, for in them the female is not later in developing
than the male). For while within the mother the female takes longer
in developing, but after birth everything is perfected more quickly in
females than in males; I mean, for instance, puberty, the prime of
life, and old age. For females are weaker and colder in nature, and we
must look upon the female character as being a sort of natural
deficiency. Accordingly while it is within the mother it develops
slowly because of its coldness (for development is concoction, and it
is heat that concocts, and what is hotter is easily concocted); but
after birth it quickly arrives at maturity and old age on account of
its weakness, for all inferior things come sooner to their
perfection or end, and as this is true of works of art so it is of
what is formed by Nature. For the reason just given also twins are
less likely to survive in man if one be male and one female, but
this is not at all so in the other animals; for in man it is
contrary to Nature that they should run an equal course, as their
development does not take place in equal periods, but the male must
needs be too late or the female too early; in the other animals,
however, it is not contrary to Nature. A difference is also found
between man and the other animals in respect of gestation, for animals
are in better bodily condition most of the time, whereas in most women
gestation is attended with discomfort. Their way of life is partly
responsible for this, for being sedentary they are full of more
residual matter; among nations where the women live a laborious life
gestation is not equally conspicuous and those who are accustomed to
work bear children easily both there and elsewhere; for work
consumes the residual matter, but those who are sedentary have a great
deal of it in them because not only is there no monthly discharge
during pregnancy but also they do no work; therefore their travail
is painful. But work exercises them so that they can hold their
breath, upon which depends the ease or difficulty of child-birth.
These circumstances then, as we have said, contribute to cause the
difference between women and the other animals in this state, but
the most important thing is this: in some animals the discharge
corresponding to the catamenia is but small, and in some not visible
at all, but in women it is greater than in any other animal, so that
when this discharge ceases owing to pregnancy they are troubled
(for if they are not pregnant they are afflicted with ailments
whenever the catamenia do not occur); and they are more troubled as a
rule at the beginning of pregnancy, for the embryo is able indeed to
stop the catamenia but is too small at first to consume any quantity

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