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On The Generation Of Animals   

secretion. For the exhaustion consequent on the loss of even a very
little of the semen is conspicuous because the body is deprived of the
ultimate gain drawn from the nutriment. With some few persons, it is
true, during a short time in the flower of their youth the loss of it,
if it be excessive in quantity, is an alleviation (just as in the
case of the nutriment in its first stage, if too much have been taken,
since getting rid of this also makes the body more comfortable),
and so it may be also when other secretions come away with it, for
in that case it is not only semen that is lost but also other
influences come away mingled with it, and these are morbid. Wherefore,
with some men at least, that which comes from them proves sometimes
incapable of procreation because the seminal element in it is so
small. But still in most men and as a general rule the result of
intercourse is exhaustion and weakness rather than relief, for the
reason given. Moreover, semen does not exist in them either in
childhood or in old age or in sickness- in the last case because of
weakness, in old age because they do not sufficiently concoct their
food, and in childhood because they are growing and so all the
nutriment is used up too soon, for in about five years, in the case of
human beings at any rate, the body seems to gain half the height
that is gained in all the rest of life.

In many animals and plants we find a difference in this connexion
not only between kinds as compared with kinds, but also between
similar individuals of the same kind as compared with each other, e.g.
man with man or vine with vine. Some have much semen, others little,
others again none at all, not through weakness but the contrary, at
any rate in some cases. This is because the nutriment is used up to
form the body, as with some human beings, who, being in good condition
and developing much flesh or getting rather too fat, produce less
semen and are less desirous of intercourse. Like this is what
happens with those vines which 'play the goat', that is, luxuriate
wantonly through too much nutrition, for he-goats when fat are less
inclined to mount the female; for which reason they thin them before
breeding from them, and say that the vines 'play the goat', so calling
it from the condition of the goats. And fat people, women as well as
men, appear to be less fertile than others from the fact that the
secretion when in process of concoction turns to fat with those who
are too well-nourished. For fat also is a healthy secretion due to
good living.

In some cases no semen is produced at all, as by the willow and
poplar. This condition is due to each of the two causes, weakness
and strength; the former prevents concoction of the nutriment, the
latter causes it to be all consumed, as said above. In like manner
other animals produce much semen through weakness as well as through
strength, when a great quantity of a useless secretion is mixed with
it; this sometimes results in actual disease when a passage is not
found to carry off the impurity, and though some recover of this,
others actually die of it. For corrupt humours collect here as in
the urine, which also has been known to cause disease.

[Further the same passage serves for urine and semen; and whatever
animals have both kinds of excrement, that of liquid and that of solid
nutriment, discharge the semen by the same passage as the liquid
excrement (for it is a secretion of a liquid, since the nutriment
of all animals is rather liquid than solid), but those which have
no liquid excrement discharge it at the passage of the solid
residua. Moreover, waste-products are always morbid, but the removal
of the secretion is useful; now the discharge of the semen
participates in both characteristics because it takes up some of the
non-useful nutriment. But if it were a waste-product it would be
always harmful; as it is, it is not so.]

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