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

. (page 25 of 25)
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 25 of 25)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

if crossed and broken, the contrary.

* * * * *


_Judgments according to Physiognomy, drawn from the several parts
of the Body, from the Hands to the Feet._

A large and full breast, shows a man valiant and courageous, but withal
proud and hard to deal with, quickly angry, and very apprehensive of an
injury; he whose breast is narrow, and which riseth a little in the
middle of it, is, by the best rule of physiognomy, of a clear spirit, of
a great understanding, good in counsel, very faithful, clean both in
mind and body, yet as an enemy to this, he is soon angry, and inclined
long to keep it. He whose breast is somewhat hairy, is very luxurious,
and serviceable to another. He who hath no hair upon his breast, is a
man weak by nature, of a slender capacity and very timorous, but of a
laudable life and conversation, inclined to peace, and much retired to

The back of the chin bone, if the flesh be anything hairy and lean, and
higher than any other part that is behind, signifies a man shameless,
beastly and withal malicious. He whose back is large, big and fat, is
thereby denoted to be a strong and stout man, but of a heavy
disposition, vain, slow and full of deceit.

He or she whose belly is soft over all the body, is weak, lustful, and
fearful upon little or no occasion, of a good understanding, and an
excellent invention, but little eaters, faithful, but of various
fortune, and meet with more adversity than prosperity. He whose flesh is
rough and hard, is a man of strong constitution and very bold, but vain,
proud and of a cruel temper. A person whose skin is smooth, fat and
white, is a person, curious, vain-glorious, timorous, shame-faced,
malicious, false, and too wise to believe all he hears.

A thigh, full of strong, bristly hair, and the hair inclined to curl,
signifies one lustful, licentious, and fit for copulation. Thighs with
but little hair, and those soft and slender, show the person to be
reasonably chaste, and one that has no great desire to coition, and who
will have but few children.

The legs of both men and women have a fleshy substance behind, which are
called calves, which nature hath given them (as in our book of living
creatures we have observed), in lieu of those long tails which other
creatures have pendant behind. Now a great calf, and he whose legs are
of great bone, and hair withal, denotes the person to be strong, bold,
secure, dull in understanding and slow in business, inclined to
procreation, and for the most part fortunate in his undertakings.
Little legs, and but little hair on them, show the person to be weak,
fearful, of a quick understanding, and neither luxurious at bed nor
board. He whose legs do much abound with hair, shows he has great store
in another place, and that he is lustful and luxurious, strong, but
unstable in his resolution, and abounding with ill humours.

The feet of either men or women, if broad and thick with flesh, and long
in figure, especially if the skin feels hard, they are by nature of a
strong constitution, and gross nutriment, but of weak intellect, which
renders the understanding vain. But feet that are thin and lean, and of
a soft skin, show the person to be but weak of body, but of a strong
understanding and an excellent wit.

The soles of the feet do administer plain and evident signs, whereby the
disposition and constitution of men and women may be known, as do the
palms of their hands, as being full of lines, by which lines all the
fortunes and misfortunes of men and women may be known, and their
manners and inclinations made plainly to appear. But this in general we
may take notice, as that many long lines and strokes do presage great
affliction, and a very troublesome life, attended with much grief and
toil, care, poverty, and misery; but short lines, if they are thick and
full of cross lines, are yet worse in every degree. Those, the skin of
whose soles is very thick and gross, are, for the most part, able,
strong and venturous. Whereas, on the contrary, those the skin of whose
soles of their feet is thin, are generally weak and timorous.

I shall now, before I conclude (having given an account of what
judgments may be made by observing the several parts of the body, from
the crown of the head to the soles of the feet), give an account of what
judgments may be drawn by the rule of physiognomy from things extraneous
which are found upon many, and which indeed to them are parts of the
body, but are so far from being necessary parts that they are the
deformity and burden of it, and speak of the habits of the body, as they
distinguish persons.

_Of Crooked and Deformed Persons._

A crooked breast and shoulder, or the exuberance of flesh in the body
either of man or woman, signifies the person to be extremely
parsimonious and ingenious, and of a great understanding, but very
covetous and scraping after the things of the world, attended also with
a very bad memory, being also very deceitful and malicious; they are
seldom in a medium, but either virtuous or extremely vicious. But if
the person deformed hath an excrescence on his breast instead of on the
back, he is for the most part of a double heart, and very mischievous.

_Of the divers Manners of going, and particular Posture both of Men and

He or she that goes slowly, making great steps as they go, are generally
persons of bad memory, and dull of apprehension, given to loitering, and
not apt to believe what is told them. He who goes apace, and makes short
steps, is most successful in all his undertakings, swift in his
imagination, and humble in the disposition of his affairs. He who makes
wide and uneven steps, and sidelong withal, is one of a greedy, sordid
nature, subtle, malicious, and willing to do evil.

_Of the Gait or Motion in Men and Women._

Every man hath a certain gait or motion, and so in like manner hath
every woman; for a man to be shaking his head, or using any light motion
with his hands or feet, whether he stands or sits, or speaks, is always
accompanied with an extravagant motion, unnecessary, superfluous and
unhandsome. Such a man, by the rule of physiognomy is vain, unwise,
unchaste, a detractor, unstable and unfaithful. He or she whose motion
is not much when discoursing with any one, is for the most part wise and
well bred, and fit for any employment, ingenious and apprehensive,
frugal, faithful and industrious in business. He whose posture is
forwards and backwards, or, as it were, whisking up and down, mimical,
is thereby denoted to be a vain, silly person, of a heavy and dull wit,
and very malicious. He whose motion is lame and limping, or otherwise
imperfect, or that counterfeits an imperfection is denoted to be
envious, malicious, false and detracting.

_Judgment drawn from the Stature of Man._

Physiognomy draws several judgments also from the stature of man, which
take as followeth; if a man be upright and straight, inclined rather to
leanness than fat, it shows him to be bold, cruel, proud, clamorous,
hard to please, and harder to be reconciled when displeased, very
frugal, deceitful, and in many things malicious. To be of tall stature
and corpulent with it, denotes him to be not only handsome but valiant
also, but of no extraordinary understanding, and which is worst of all,
ungrateful and trepanning. He who is extremely tall and very lean and
thin is a projecting man, that designs no good to himself, and suspects
every one to be as bad as himself, importunate to obtain what he
desires, and extremely wedded to his own humour. He who is thick and
short, is vain, envious, suspicious, and very shallow of apprehension,
easy of belief, but very long before he will forget an injury. He who is
lean and short but upright withal, is, by the rules of physiognomy, wise
and ingenious, bold and confident, and of a good understanding, but of a
deceitful heart. He who stoops as he goes, not so much by age as custom,
is very laborious, a retainer of secrets, but very incredulous and not
easy to believe every vain report he hears. He that goes with his belly
stretching forth, is sociable, merry, and easy to be persuaded.

* * * * *


_Of the Power of the Celestial Bodies over Men and Women._

Having spoken thus largely of Physiognomy, and the judgment given
thereby concerning the dispositions and inclinations of men and women,
it will be convenient here to show how all these things come to pass;
and how it is that the secret inclinations and future fate of men and
women may be known from the consideration of the several parts of the
bodies. They arise from the power and dominion of superior powers to
understand the twelve signs of the Zodiac, whose signs, characters and
significations are as follows: -


_Aries_, the Ram, which governs the head and face.

_Taurus_, the Bull, which governs the neck.

_Gemini_, the Twins, which governs the hands and arms.

_Cancer_, the Crab, governs the breast and stomach.

_Leo_, the Lion, governs the back and heart

_Virgo_, the Virgin, governs the belly and bowels.

_Libra_, the Balance, governs the veins and loins.

_Scorpio_, the Scorpion, governs the secret parts.

_Sagittary_, the Centaur, governs the thighs.

_Capricorn_, the Goat, governs the knees.

_Aquarius_, the Water-Bearer, governs the legs and ankles.

_Pisces_, the Fish, governs the feet.

It is here furthermore necessary to let the reader know, that the
ancients have divided the celestial sphere into twelve parts, according
to the number of these signs, which are termed houses; as in the first
house, Aries, in the second Taurus, in the third Gemini, etc. And
besides their assigning the twelve signs of the twelve houses, they
allot to each house its proper business.

To the first house they give the signification of life.

The second house has the signification of wealth, substances, or riches.

The third is the mansion of brethren.

The fourth, the house of parentage.

The fifth is the house of children.

The sixth is the house of sickness or disease.

The seventh is the house of wedlock, and also of enemies, because
oftentimes a wife or husband proves the worst enemy.

The eighth is the house of death.

The ninth is the house of religion.

The tenth is the signification of honours.

The eleventh of friendship.

The twelfth is the house of affliction and woe.

Now, astrologically speaking, a house is a certain place in the heaven
or firmament, divided by certain degrees, through which the planets have
their motion, and in which they have their residence and are situated.
And these houses are divided by thirty degrees, for every sign has so
many degrees. And these signs or houses are called the houses of such
and such planets as make their residence therein, and are such as
delight in them, and as they are deposited in such and such houses are
said to be either dignified or debilitated. For though the planets in
their several revolutions go through all the houses, yet there are some
houses which they are more properly said to delight in. As for instance,
Aries and Scorpio are the houses of Mars; Taurus and Libra of Venus;
Gemini and Virgo of Mercury; Sagittarius and Pisces are the houses of
Jupiter; Capricorn and Aquarius are the houses of Saturn; Leo is the
house of the Sun; and Cancer is the house of the Moon.

Now to sum up the whole, and show how this concerns Physiognomy, is
this: - as the body of man, as we have shown, is not only governed by the
signs and planets, but every part is appropriated to one or another of
them, so according to the particular influence of each sign and planet,
so governing is the disposition, inclination, and nature of the person
governed. For such and such tokens and marks do show a person to be born
under such and such a planet; so according to the nature, power and
influences of the planets, is the judgment to be made of that person. By
which the reader may see that the judgments drawn from physiognomy are
grounded upon a certain verity.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 25

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 25 of 25)