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On The Generation Of Animals   


of the secretion; later on it takes up some of it and so alleviates
the mother. In the other animals, on the contrary, the residual matter
is but small and so corresponds with the growth of the foetus, and
as the secretions which hinder nourishment are being consumed by the
foetus the mother is in better bodily condition than usual. The same
holds good also with aquatic animals and birds. If it ever happens
that the body of the mother is no longer in good condition when the
foetus is now becoming large, the reason is that its growth needs more
nourishment than the residual matter supplies. (In some few women
it happens that the body is in a better state during pregnancy;
these are women in whose body the residual matter is small so that
it is all used up along with the nourishment that goes to the foetus.)

7

We must also speak of what is known as mola uteri, which occurs
rarely in women but still is found sometimes during pregnancy. For
they produce what is called a mola; it has happened before now to a
woman, after she had had intercourse with her husband and supposed she
had conceived, that at first the size of her belly increased and
everything else happened accordingly, but yet when the time for
birth came on, she neither bore a child nor was her size reduced,
but she continued thus for three or four years until dysentery came
on, endangering her life, and she produced a lump of flesh which is
called mola. Moreover this condition may continue till old age and
death. Such masses when expelled from the body become so hard that
they can hardly be cut through even by iron. Concerning the cause of
this phenomenon we have spoken in the Problems; the same thing happens
to the embryo in the womb as to meats half cooked in roasting, and
it is not due to heat, as some say, but rather to the weakness of
the maternal heat. (For their nature seems to be incapable, and
unable to perfect or to put the last touches to the process of
generation. Hence it is that the mola remains in them till old age
or at any rate for a long time, for in its nature it is neither
perfect nor altogether a foreign body.) It is want of concoction that
is the reason of its hardness, as with half-cooked meat, for this
half-dressing of meat is also a sort of want of concoction.

A difficulty is raised as to why this does not occur in other
animals, unless indeed it does occur and has entirely escaped
observation. We must suppose the reason to be that woman alone among
animals is subject to troubles of the uterus, and alone has a
superfluous amount of catamenia and is unable to concoct them; when,
then, the embryo has been formed of a liquid hard to concoct, then
comes the so-called mola into being, and this happens naturally in
women alone or at any rate more than in other animals.

8

Milk is formed in the females of all internally viviparous
animals, becoming useful for the time of birth. For Nature has made it
for the sake of the nourishment of animals after birth, so that it may
neither fail at this time at all nor yet be at all superfluous; this
is just what we find happening, unless anything chance contrary to
Nature. In the other animals the period of gestation does not vary,
and so the milk is concocted in time to suit this moment, but in
man, since there are several times of birth, it must be ready at the
first of these; hence in women the milk is useless before the
seventh month and only then becomes useful. That it is only
concocted at the last stages is what we should expect to happen also
as being due to a necessary cause. For at first such residual matter
when secreted is used up for the development of the embryo; now the
nutritious part in all things is the sweetest and the most
concocted, and thus when all such elements are removed what remains

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