The Works of Aristotle the Famous Philosopher Containing his Complete Masterpiece and Family Physician; his Experienced Midwife, his Book of Problems and his Remarks on Physiognomy online

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the stone is slackened, still as it goes down, of necessity the last
circle is less than the first, because by that and also by its force the
water is divided.

Q. Why are such as are deaf by nature, dumb? A. Because they cannot
speak and express that which they never hear. Some physicians do say,
that there is one knitting and uniting of sinews belonging to the like
disposition. But such as are dumb by accident are not deaf at all, for
then there ariseth a local passion.

Q. Why doth itching arise when an ulcer doth wax whole and phlegm
ceases? A. Because the part which is healed and made sound doth pursue
the relic of the humours which remained there against nature, and which
was the cause of the bile, and so going out through the skin, and
dissolving itself, doth originally cause the itch.

Q. How comes a man to sneeze oftener and more vehemently than a beast?
A. Because he uses more meats and drinks, and of more different sorts,
and that more than is requisite; the which, when he cannot digest as he
would, he doth gather together much air and spirit, by reason of much
humidity; the spirits then very subtle, ascending into the head, often
force a man to void them, and so provoke sneezing. The noise caused
thereby proceeds from a vehement spirit or breath passing through the
conduit of the nostrils, as belching doth from the stomach or farting by
the fundament, the voice by the throat, and a sound by the ear.

Q. How come the hair and nails of dead people to grow? A. Because the
flesh rotting, withering and falling away, that which was hidden about
the root of the hair doth now appear as growing. Some say that it grows
indeed, because carcasses are dissolved in the beginning to many
excrements and superfluities by putrefaction. These going out at the
uppermost parts of the body by some passages, do increase the growth of
the hair.

Q. Why does not the hair of the feet soon grow grey? A. For this reason,
because that through great motion they disperse and dissolve the
superfluous phlegm that breeds greyness. The hair of the secrets grows
very late, because of the place, and because that in carnal copulation
it dissolves the phlegm also.

Q. Why, if you put hot burnt barley upon a horse's sore, is the hair
which grows upon the sore not white, but like the other hair? A. Because
it hath the force of expelling; and doth drive away and dissolve the
phlegm, as well as all other unprofitable matter that is gathered
together through the weakness of the parts, or condity of the sore.

Q. Why doth the hair never grow on an ulcer or bile? A. Because man hath
a thick skin, as is seen by the thickness of his hair; and if the scar
be thicker than the skin itself, it stops the passages from whence the
hair should grow. Horses have thinner skins, as is plain by their hair;
therefore all passages are not stopped in their wounds and sores; and
after the excrements which were gathered together have broken a passage
through those small pores the hair doth grow.

Q. Why is Fortune painted with a double forehead, the one side bald and
the other hairy? A. The baldness signifies adversity, and hairiness
prosperity, which we enjoy when it pleaseth her.

Q. Why have some commended flattery? A. Because flattery setteth forth
before our eyes what we ought to be, though not what we are.

Q. Wherefore should virtue be painted girded? A. To show that virtuous
men should not be slothful, but diligent and always in action.

Q. Why did the ancients say it was better to fall into the hands of a
raven than a flatterer? A. Because ravens do not eat us till we be dead,
but flatterers devour us alive.

Q. Why have choleric men beards before others? A. Because they are hot,
and their pores large.

Q. How comes it that such as have the hiccups do ease themselves by
holding their breath? A. The breath retained doth heat the interior
parts of the body, and the hiccups proceeds from cold.

Q. How comes it that old men remember well what they have seen and done
in their youth, and forget such things as they see and do in their old
age? A. Things learned in youth take deep root and habitude in a person,
but those learned in age are forgotten because the senses are then

Q. What kind of covetousness is best? A. That of time when employed as
it ought to be.

Q. Why is our life compared to a play? A. Because the dishonest do
occupy the place of the honest, and the worst sort the room of the good.

Q. Why do dolphins, when they appear above the water, denote a storm or
tempest approaching? A. Because at the beginning of a tempest there do
arise from the bottom of the sea, certain hot exhalations and vapours
which heat the dolphins, causing them to rise up for cold air.

Q. Why did the Romans call Fabius Maximus the target of the people, and
Marcellus the sword? A. Because the one adapted himself to the service
of the commonwealth, and the other was very eager to revenge the
injuries of his country; and yet they were in the senate joined
together, because the gravity of the one would moderate the courage and
boldness of the other.

Q. Why doth the shining of the moon hurt the head? A. Because it moves
the humours of the brain, and cannot afterwards dissolve them.

Q. If water do not nourish, why do men drink it? A. Because water
causeth the nutriment to spread through the body.

Q. Why is sneezing good? A. Because it purgeth the brain as milk is
purged by the cough.

Q. Why is hot water lighter than cold? A. Because boiling water has less
ventosity and is more light and subtle, the earthly and heavy substance
being separated from it.

Q. How comes marsh and pond water to be bad? A. By reason they are
phlegmatic, and do corrupt in summer; the fineness of water is turned
into vapours, and the earthiness doth remain.

Q. Why are studious and learned men soonest bald? A. It proceeds from a
weakness of the spirits, or because warmth of digestion cause phlegm to
abound in them.

Q. Why doth much watching make the brain feeble? A. Because it increases
choler, which dries and extenuates the body.

Q. Why are boys apt to change their voices about fourteen years of age?
A. Because that then nature doth cause a great and sudden change of
voice; experience proves this to be true; for at that time we may see
that women's paps do grow great, do hold and gather milk, and also those
places that are above their hips, in which the young fruit would remain.
Likewise men's breasts and shoulders, which then can bear great and
heavy burdens; also their stones in which their seed may increase and
abide, and in their privy members, to let out the seed with ease.
Further all the body is made bigger and dilated, as the alteration and
change of every part doth testify, and the harshness of the voice and
hoarseness; for the rough artery, the wind pipe, being made wide in the
beginning, and the exterior and outward part being unequal to the
throat, the air going out the rough, unequal and uneven pipe doth then
become unequal and sharp, and after, hoarse, something like unto the
voice of a goat, wherefore it has its name called Bronchus. The same
doth also happen to them unto whose rough artery distillation doth
follow; it happens by reason of the drooping humidity that a slight
small skin filled unequally causes the uneven going forth of the spirit
and air. Understand, that the windpipe of goats is such by reason of the
abundance of humidity. The like doth happen unto all such as nature hath
given a rough artery, as unto cranes. After the age of fourteen they
leave off that voice, because the artery is made wider and reacheth its
natural evenness and quality.

Q. Why do hard dens, hollow and high places, send back the likeness and
sound of the voice? A. Because that in such places also by reflection do
return back the image of a sound, for the voice doth beat the air, and
the air the place, which the more it is beaten the more it doth bear,
and therefore doth cause the more vehement sound of the voice; moist
places, and as it were, soft, yielding to the stroke, and dissolving it,
give no sound again; for according to the quantity of the stroke, the
quality and quantity of the voice is given, which is called an echo.
Some do idly fable that she is a goddess; some say that Pan was in love
with her, which without doubt is false. He was some wise man, who did
first desire to search out the cause of the voice, and as they who love,
and cannot enjoy that love, are grieved, so in like manner was he very
sorry until he found out the solution of that cause; as Endymion also,
who first found out the course of the moon, watching all night, and
observing her course, and searching her motion, did sleep in the
daytime, and that she came to him when he was asleep, because she did
give the philosopher the solution of the course herself. They say also
that he was a shepherd, because that in the desert and high places, he
did mark the course of the moon. And they gave him also the pipe because
that the high places are blown with wind, or else because he sought out
the consonancy of figures. Prometheus also, being a wise man, sought the
course of the star, which is called the eagle in the firmament, his
nature and place; and when he was, as it were, wasted with the desire of
learning, then at last he rested, when Hercules did resolve unto him all
doubts with his wisdom.

Q. Why do not swine cry when they are carried with their snouts upwards?
A. Because that of all other beasts they bend more to the earth. They
delight in filth, and that they seek, and therefore in the sudden change
of their face, they be as it were strangers, and being amazed with so
much light do keep that silence; some say the windpipe doth close
together by reason of the straitness of it.

Q. Why do swine delight in dirt? A. As physicians do say, they are
naturally delighted with it, because they have a great liver, in which
desire it, as Aristotle saith, the wideness of their snout is the case,
for he that hath smelling which doth dissolve itself, and as it were
strive with stench.

Q. Why do many beasts when they see their friends, and a lion and a
bull beat their sides when they are angry? A. Because they have the
marrow of their backs reaching to the tail, which hath the force of
motion in it, the imagination acknowledging that which is known to them,
as it were with the hand, as happens to men, doth force them to move
their tails. This doth manifestly show some secret force to be within
them, which doth acknowledge what they ought. In the anger of lions and
bulls, nature doth consent to the mind, and causeth it to be greatly
moved, as men do sometimes when they are angry, beating their hands on
other parts; when the mind cannot be revenged on that which doth hurt,
it presently seeks out some other source, and cures the malady with a
stroke or blow.

Q. How come steel glasses to be better for the sight than any other
kind? A. Because steel is hard, and doth present unto us more
substantially the air that receiveth the light.

Q. How doth love show its greater force by making the fool to become
wise, or the wise to become a fool? A. In attributing wisdom to him that
has it not; for it is harder to build than to pull down; and ordinarily
love and folly are but an alteration of the mind.

Q. How comes much labour and fatigue to be bad for the sight? A.
Because it dries the blood too much.

Q. Why is goat's milk reckoned best for the stomach? A. Because it is
thick, not slimy, and they feed on wood and boughs rather than on grass.

Q. Why do grief and vexation bring grey hairs? A. Because they dry,
which bringeth on greyness.

Q. How come those to have most mercy who have the thickest blood? A.
Because the blood which is fat and thick makes the spirits firm and
constant, wherein consists the force of all creatures.

Q. Whether it is hardest, to obtain a person's love, or to keep it when
obtained? A. It is hardest to keep it, by reason of the inconstancy of
man, who is quickly angry, and soon weary of a thing; hard to be gained
and slippery to keep.

Q. Why do serpents shun the herb rue? A. Because they are cold, dry and
full of sinews, and that herb is of a contrary nature.

Q. Why is a capon better to eat than a cock? A. Because a capon loses
not his moisture by treading of the hens.

Q. Why is our smell less in winter than in summer? A. Because the air is
thick, and less moveable.

Q. Why does hair burn so quickly? A. Because it is dry and cold.

Q. Why is love compared to a labyrinth? A. Because the entry and coming
in is easy, and the going out almost impossible or hard.

* * * * *






* * * * *


SECTION 1. - _Of Physiognomy, showing what it is, and whence it is

Physiognomy is an ingenious science, or knowledge of nature, by which
the inclinations and dispositions of every creature are understood, and
because some of the members are uncompounded, and entire of themselves,
as the tongue, the heart, etc., and some are of a mixed nature, as the
eyes, the nose and others, we therefore say that there are signs which
agree and live together, which inform a wise man how to make his
judgment before he be too rash to deliver it to the world.

Nor is it to be esteemed a foolish or idle art, seeing it is derived
from the superior bodies; for there is no part of the face of man but
what is under the peculiar influence or government, not only of the
seven planets but also of the twelve signs of Zodiac; and the
dispositions, vices, virtues and fatality, either of a man or woman are
plainly foretold, if the person pretending to the knowledge thereof be
an artist, which, that my readers may hereby attain it I shall set these
things in a clearer light.

The reader should remember that the forehead is governed by Mars; the
right eye is under the domination of Sol; the left is ruled by the Moon;
the right ear is under Jupiter; the left, Saturn, the rule of the nose
is claimed by Venus, which, by the way, is one reason that in all
unlawful venereal encounters, the nose is too subject to bear the scars
that are gotten in those wars; and nimble Mercury, the significator of
eloquence claims the dominion of the mouth, and that very justly.

Thus have the seven planets divided the face among them, but not with so
absolute a way but that the twelve signs of the Zodiac do also come in
with a part (see the engraving) and therefore the sign Cancer presides
in the upper part of the forehead, and Leo attends upon the right
eyebrow, as Saggittarius does upon the right eye, and Libra upon the
right ear, upon the left eyebrow you will find Aquarius; and Gemini and
Aries taking care of the left ear; Taurus rules in the middle of the
forehead, and Capricorn the chin; Scorpio takes upon him the protection
of the nose; Virgo claims the precedence of the right cheek, Pisces the
left. And thus the face of man is cantoned out amongst the signs and
planets; which being carefully attended to, will sufficiently inform
the artist how to pass a judgment. For according to the sign or planet
ruling so also is the judgment to be of the part ruled, which all those
that have understanding know easily how to apply.


In the judgment that is to be made from physiognomy, there is a great
difference betwixt a man and a woman; the reason is, because in respect
of the whole composition men more fully comprehend it than women do, as
may evidently appear by the manner and method we shall give. Wherefore
the judgments which we shall pass in every chapter do properly concern a
man, as comprehending the whole species, and but improperly the woman,
as being but a part thereof, and derived from the man, and therefore,
whoever is called to give judgment on such a face, ought to be wary
about all the lines and marks that belong to it, respect being also had
to the sex, for when we behold a man whose face is like unto a woman's
and we pass a judgment upon it, having diligently observed it, and not
on the face only, but on other parts of the body, as hands, etc., in
like manner we also behold the face of a woman, who in respect to her
flesh and blood is like unto a man, and in the disposure also of the
greatest part of the body. But does physiognomy give the same judgment
on her, as it does of a man that is like unto her? By no means, but far
otherwise, in regard that the conception of the woman is much different
from that of a man, even in those respects which are said to be common.
Now in those common respects two parts are attributed to a man, and a
third part to a woman.

Wherefore it being our intention to give you an exact account, according
to the rule of physiognomy of all and every part of the members of the
body, we will begin with the head, as it hath relation only to man and
woman, and not to any other creature, that the work may be more obvious
to every reader.

* * * * *


_Of the Judgment of Physiognomy._

Hair that hangs down without curling, if it be of a fair complexion,
thin and soft withal, signifies a man to be naturally faint-hearted, and
of a weak body, but of a quiet and harmless disposition. Hair that is
big, and thick and short withal, denotes a man to be of a strong
constitution, secure, bold, deceitful and for the most part, unquiet and
vain, lusting after beauty, and more foolish than wise, though fortune
may favour him. He whose hair is partly curled and partly hanging down,
is commonly wise or a very great fool, or else as very a knave as he is
a fool. He whose hair grows thick on his temples and his brow, one may
certainly at first sight conclude that such a man is by nature simple,
vain, luxurious, lustful, credulous, clownish in his speech and
conversation and dull in his apprehension. He whose hair not only curls
very much, but bushes out, and stands on end, if the hair be white or of
a yellowish colour, he is by nature proud and bold, dull of
apprehension, soon angry, and a lover of venery, and given to lying,
malicious and ready to do any mischief. He whose hair arises in the
corners of the temples, and is gross and rough withal, is a man highly
conceited of himself, inclined to malice, but cunningly conceals it, is
very courtly and a lover of new fashions. He who hath much hair, that is
to say, whose hair is thick all over his head, is naturally vain and
very luxurious, of a good digestion, easy of belief, and slow of
performance, of a weak memory and for the most part unfortunate. He
whose hair is of a reddish complexion, is for the most part, if not
always, proud, deceitful, detracting and full of envy. He whose hair is
extraordinarily fair, is for the most part a man fit for the most
praiseworthy enterprises, a lover of honour, and much more inclined to
do good than evil; laborious and careful to perform whatsoever is
committed to his care, secret in carrying on any business, and
fortunate. Hair of a yellowish colour shows a man to be good
conditioned, and willing to do anything, fearful, shamefaced and weak of
body, but strong in the abilities of the mind, and more apt to remember,
than to avenge an injury. He whose hair is of a brownish colour, and
curled not too much nor too little, is a well-disposed man, inclined to
that which is good, a lover of peace, cleanliness and good manners. He
whose hair turns grey or hoary in the time of his youth, is generally
given to women, vain, false, unstable, and talkative. [Note. That
whatever signification the hair has in men, it has the same in women

The forehead that riseth in a round, signifies a man liberally merry, of
a good understanding, and generally inclined to virtue. He whose
forehead is fleshy, and the bone of the brow jutting out, and without
wrinkles, is a man much inclined to suits of law, contentious, vain,
deceitful, and addicted to follow ill courses. He whose forehead is
very low and little, is of a good understanding, magnanimous, but
extremely bold and confident, and a great pretender to love and honour.
He whose forehead seems sharp, and pointed up in the corners of his
temples, so that the bone seems to jut forth a little, is a man
naturally weak and fickle, and weak in the intellectuals. He whose brow
upon the temples is full of flesh, is a man of a great spirit, proud,
watchful and of a gross understanding. He whose brow is full of
wrinkles, and has as it were a seam coming down the middle of the
forehead, so that a man may think he has two foreheads, is one that is
of a great spirit, a great wit, void of deceit, and yet of a hard
fortune. He who has a full, large forehead, and a little round withal,
destitute of hair, or at least that has little on it is bold, malicious,
full of choler and apt to transgress beyond all bounds, and yet of a
good wit and very apprehensive. He whose forehead is long and high and
jutting forth, and whose face is figured, almost sharp and peaked
towards the chin, is one reasonably honest, but weak and simple, and of
a hard fortune.

Those eyebrows that are much arched, whether in man or woman, and which
by frequent motion elevate themselves, show the person to be proud,
high-spirited, vain-glorious, bold and threatening, a lover of beauty,
and indifferently inclined to either good or evil. He whose eyelids bend
down when he speaks to another or when he looks upon him, and who has a
kind of skulking look, is by nature a penurious wretch, close in all his
actions, of a very few words, but full of malice in his heart. He whose
eyebrows are thick, and have but little hair upon them, is but weak in
his intellectuals, and too credulous, very sincere, sociable, and
desirous of good company. He whose eyebrows are folded, and the hair
thick and bending downwards, is one that is clownish and unlearned,
heavy, suspicious, miserable, envious, and one that will cheat and cozen
you if he can. He whose eyebrows have but short hair and of a whitish
colour is fearful and very easy of belief, and apt to undertake
anything. Those, on the other side, whose eyebrows are black, and the
hair of them thin, will do nothing without great consideration, and are
bold and confident of the performance of what they undertake; neither
are they apt to believe anything without reason for so doing.

If the space between the eyebrows be of more than the ordinary distance,
it shows the person to be hard-hearted, envious, close, cunning,
apprehensive, greedy of novelties, of a vain fortune, addicted to
cruelty more than love. But those men whose eyebrows are at a lesser
distance from each other, are for the most part of a dull understanding;
yet subtle enough in their dealings, and of an uncommon boldness, which
is often attended with great felicity; but that which is most
commendable in them is, that they are most sure and constant in their

Great and full eyes in either man or woman, show the person to be for
the most part slothful, bold, envious, a bad concealer of secrets,
miserable, vain, given to lying, and yet a bad memory, slow in
invention, weak in his intellectuals, and yet very much conceited of
that little knack of wisdom he thinks himself master of. He whose eyes
are hollow in his head, and therefore discerns well at a great distance,
is one that is suspicious, malicious, furious, perverse in his
conversation, of an extraordinary memory, bold, cruel, and false, both
in words and deeds, threatening, vicious, luxurious, proud, envious and
treacherous; but he whose eyes are, as it were, starting out of his
head, is a simple, foolish person, shameless, very fertile and easy to
be persuaded either to vice or virtue. He who looks studiously and
acutely, with his eyes and eyelids downwards, denotes thereby to be of a
malicious nature, very treacherous, false, unfaithful, envious,
miserable, impious towards God, and dishonest towards men. He whose
eyes are small and conveniently round, is bashful and weak, very
credulous, liberal to others, and even in his conversation. He whose
eyes look asquint, is thereby denoted to be a deceitful person, unjust,
envious, furious, a great liar, and as the effect of all that is
miserable. He who hath a wandering eye and which is rolling up and down,
is for the most part a vain, simple, deceitful, lustful, treacherous, or
high-minded man, an admirer of the fair sex, and one easy to be
persuaded to virtue or vice. He or she whose eyes are twinkling, and
which move forward or backward, show the person to be luxurious,

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Online LibraryAristotleThe Works of Aristotle the Famous Philosopher Containing his Complete Masterpiece and Family Physician; his Experienced Midwife, his Book of Problems and his Remarks on Physiognomy → online text (page 23 of 25)