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



Previous | Next
                  

On The Generation Of Animals   


From what has been said, it is clear that semen is a secretion of
useful nutriment, and that in its last stage, whether it is produced
by all or no.

19

After this we must distinguish of what sort of nutriment it is a
secretion, and must discuss the catamenia which occur in certain of
the vivipara. For thus we shall make it clear (1) whether the female
also produces semen like the male and the foetus is a single mixture
of two semens, or whether no semen is secreted by the female, and, (2)
if not, whether she contributes nothing else either to generation
but only provides a receptacle, or whether she does contribute
something, and, if so, how and in what manner she does so.

We have previously stated that the final nutriment is the blood in
the sanguinea and the analogous fluid in the other animals. Since
the semen is also a secretion of the nutriment, and that in its
final stage, it follows that it will be either (1) blood or that which
is analogous to blood, or (2) something formed from this. But since it
is from the blood, when concocted and somehow divided up, that each
part of the body is made, and since the semen if properly concocted is
quite of a different character from the blood when it is separated
from it, but if not properly concocted has been known in some cases to
issue in a bloody condition if one forces oneself too often to
coition, therefore it is plain that semen will be a secretion of the
nutriment when reduced to blood, being that which is finally
distributed to the parts of the body. And this is the reason why it
has so great power, for the loss of the pure and healthy blood is an
exhausting thing; for this reason also it is natural that the
offspring should resemble the parents, for that which goes to all
the parts of the body resembles that which is left over. So that the
semen which is to form the hand or the face or the whole animal is
already the hand or face or whole animal undifferentiated, and what
each of them is actually such is the semen potentially, either in
virtue of its own mass or because it has a certain power in itself.
I mention these alternatives here because we have not yet made it
clear from the distinctions drawn hitherto whether it is the matter of
the semen that is the cause of generation, or whether it has in it
some faculty and efficient cause thereof, for the hand also or any
other bodily part is not hand or other part in a true sense if it be
without soul or some other power, but is only called by the same
name as the living hand.

On this subject, then, so much may be laid down. But since it is
necessary (1) that the weaker animal also should have a secretion
greater in quantity and less concocted, and (2) that being of such a
nature it should be a mass of sanguineous liquid, and (3) since that
which Nature endows with a smaller portion of heat is weaker, and
(4) since it has already been stated that such is the character of the
female- putting all these considerations together we see that the
sanguineous matter discharged by the female is also a secretion. And
such is the discharge of the so-called catamenia.

It is plain, then, that the catamenia are a secretion, and that they
are analogous in females to the semen in males. The circumstances
connected with them are evidence that this view is correct. For the
semen begins to appear in males and to be emitted at the same time
of life that the catamenia begin to flow in females, and that they
change their voice and their breasts begin to develop. So, too, in the
decline of life the generative power fails in the one sex and the
catamenia in the other.

The following signs also indicate that this discharge in females

Previous | Next
Site Search