Home | Texts by category | | Quick Search:   
Works by Aristotle
Pages of On The Generation Of Animals

Previous | Next

On The Generation Of Animals   

that the female is cause of the generation in some other way. Into
this we must next inquire, since it is plain that the semen is not
secreted from all the parts.

In this investigation and those which follow from it, the first
thing to do is to understand what semen is, for then it will be easier
to inquire into its operations and the phenomena connected with it.
Now the object of semen is to be of such a nature that from it as
their origin come into being those things which are naturally
formed, not because there is any agent which makes them from it as
simply because this is the semen. Now we speak of one thing coming
from another in many senses; it is one thing when we say that night
comes from day or a man becomes man from boy, meaning that A follows
B; it is another if we say that a statue is made from bronze and a bed
from wood, and so on in all the other cases where we say that the
thing made is made from a material, meaning that the whole is formed
from something preexisting which is only put into shape. In a third
sense a man becomes unmusical from being musical, sick from being
well, and generally in this sense contraries arise from contraries.
Fourthly, as in the 'climax' of Epicharmus; thus from slander comes
railing and from this fighting, and all these are from something in
the sense that it is the efficient cause. In this last class sometimes
the efficient cause is in the things themselves, as in the last
mentioned (for the slander is a part of the whole trouble), and
sometimes external, as the art is external to the work of art or the
torch to the burning house. Now the offspring comes from the semen,
and it is plainly in one of the two following senses that it does
so- either the semen is the material from which it is made, or it is
the first efficient cause. For assuredly it is not in the sense of A
being after B, as the voyage comes from, i.e. after, the
Panathenaea; nor yet as contraries come from contraries, for then
one of the two contraries ceases to be, and a third substance must
exist as an immediate underlying basis from which the new thing
comes into being. We must discover then, in which of the two other
classes the semen is to be put, whether it is to be regarded as
matter, and therefore acted upon by something else, or as a form,
and therefore acting upon something else, or as both at once. For
perhaps at the same time we shall see clearly also how all the
products of semen come into being from contraries, since coming into
being from contraries is also a natural process, for some animals do
so, i.e. from male and female, others from only one parent, as is
the case with plants and all those animals in which male and female
are not separately differentiated. Now that which comes from the
generating parent is called the seminal fluid, being that which
first has in it a principle of generation, in the case of all
animals whose nature it is to unite; semen is that which has in it the
principles from both united parents, as the first mixture which arises
from the union of male and female, be it a foetus or an ovum, for
these already have in them that which comes from both. (Semen, or
seed, and grain differ only in the one being earlier and the other
later, grain in that it comes from something else, i.e. the seed,
and seed in that something else, the grain, comes from it, for both
are really the same thing.)

We must again take up the question what the primary nature of what
is called semen is. Needs must everything which we find in the body
either be (1) one of the natural parts, whether homogeneous or
heterogeneous, or (2) an unnatural part such as a growth, or (3) a
secretion or excretion, or (4) waste-product, or (5) nutriment. (By
secretion or excretion I mean the residue of the nutriment, by
waste-product that which is given off from the tissues by an unnatural

Now that semen cannot be a part of the body is plain, for it is

Previous | Next
Site Search