Aristotle, On the Parts of Animals: Book III. Translated by William Ogle

Book III


WE have next to consider the teeth, and with these the mouth, that is the cavity which they enclose and form. The teeth have one invariable office, namely the reduction of food; but besides this general function they have other special ones, and these differ in different groups. Thus in some animals the teeth serve as weapons; but this with a distinction. For there are offensive weapons and there are defensive weapons; and while in some animals, as the wild Carnivora, the teeth answer both purposes, in many others, both wild and domesticated, they serve only for defence. In man the teeth are admirably constructed for their general office, the front ones being sharp, so as to cut the food into bits, and the hinder ones broad and flat, so as to grind it to a pulp; while between these and separating them are the dog-teeth, which, in accordance with the rule that the mean partakes of both extremes, share in the characters of those on either side, being broad in one part but sharp in another. Similar distinctions of shape are presented by the teeth of other animals, with the exception of those whose teeth are one and all of the sharp kind. In man, however, the number and the character even of these sharp teeth have been mainly determined by the requirements of speech. For the front teeth of man contribute in many ways to the formation of letter-sounds.

In some animals, however, the teeth, as already said, serve merely for the reduction of food. When, besides this, they serve as offensive and defensive weapons, they may either be formed into tusks, as for instance is the case in swine, or may be sharp-pointed and interlock with those of the opposite jaw, in which case the animal is said to be saw-toothed. The explanation of this latter arrangement is as follows. The strength of such an animal is in its teeth, and these depend for their efficiency on their sharpness. In order, then, to prevent their getting blunted by mutual friction, such of them as serve for weapons fit into each other's interspaces, and are so kept in proper condition. No animal that has sharp interfitting teeth is at the same time furnished with tusks. For nature never makes anything superfluous or in vain. She gives, therefore, tusks to such animals as strike in fighting, and serrated teeth to such as bite. Sows, for instance, have no tusks, and accordingly sows bite instead of striking.

A general principle must here be noted, which will be found applicable not only in this instance but in many others that will occur later on. Nature allots each weapon, offensive and defensive alike, to those animals alone that can use it; or, if not to them alone, to them in a more marked degree; and she allots it in its most perfect state to those that can use it best; and this whether it be a sting, or a spur, or horns, or tusks, or what it may of a like kind.

Thus as males are stronger and more choleric than females, it is in males that such parts as those just mentioned are found, either exclusively, as in some species, or more fully developed, as in others. For though females are of course provided with such parts as are no less necessary to them than to males, the parts, for instance, which subserve nutrition, they have even these in an inferior degree, and the parts which answer no such necessary purpose they do not possess at all. This explains why stags have horns, while does have none; why the horns of cows are different from those of bulls, and, similarly, the horns of ewes from those of rams. It explains also why the females are often without spurs in species where the males are provided with them, and accounts for similar facts relating to all other such parts.

All fishes have teeth of the serrated form, with the single exception of the fish known as the Scarus. In many of them there are teeth even on the tongue and on the roof of the mouth. The reason for this is that, living as they do in the water, they cannot but allow this fluid to pass into the mouth with the food. The fluid thus admitted they must necessarily discharge again without delay. For were they not to do so, but to retain it for a time while triturating the food, the water would run into their digestive cavities. Their teeth therefore are all sharp, being adapted only for cutting, and are numerous and set in many parts, that their abundance may serve in lieu of any grinding faculty, to mince the food into small bits. They are also curved, because these are almost the only weapons which fishes possess.

In all these offices of the teeth the mouth also takes its part; but besides these functions it is subservient to respiration, in all such animals as breathe and are cooled by external agency. For nature, as already said, uses the parts which are common to all animals for many special purposes, and this of her own accord. Thus the mouth has one universal function in all animals alike, namely its alimentary office; but in some, besides this, the special duty of serving as a weapon is attached to it; in others that of ministering to speech; and again in many, though not in all, the office of respiration. All these functions are thrown by nature upon one single organ, the construction of which she varies so as to suit the variations of office. Therefore it is that in some animals the mouth is contracted, while in others it is of wide dimensions. The contracted form belongs to such animals as use the mouth merely for nutritive, respiratory, and vocal purposes; whereas in such as use it as a means of defence it has a wide gape. This is its invariable form in such animals as are saw-toothed. For seeing that their mode of warfare consists in biting, it is advantageous to them that their mouth shall have a wide opening; for the wider it opens, the greater will be the extent of the bite, and the more numerous will be the teeth called into play.

What has just been said applies to fishes as well as to other animals; and thus in such of them as are carnivorous, and made for biting, the mouth has a wide gape; whereas in the rest it is small, being placed at the extremity of a tapering snout. For this form is suited for their purposes, while the other would be useless.

In birds the mouth consists of what is called the beak, which in them is a substitute for lips and teeth. This beak presents variations in harmony with the functions and protective purposes which it serves. Thus in those birds that are called Crooked-clawed it is invariably hooked, inasmuch as these birds are carnivorous, and eat no kind of vegetable food whatsoever. For this form renders it serviceable to them in obtaining the mastery over their prey, and is better suited for deeds of violence than any other. Moreover, as their weapons of offence consist of this beak and of their claws, these latter also are more crooked in them than in the generality of birds. Similarly in each other kind of bird the beak is suited to the mode of life. Thus, in woodpeckers it is hard and strong, as also in crows and birds of crowlike habit, while in the smaller birds it is delicate, so as to be of use in collecting seeds and picking up minute animals. In such birds, again, as eat herbage, and such as live about marshes-those, for example, that swim and have webbed feet-the bill is broad, or adapted in some other way to the mode of life. For a broad bill enables a bird to dig into the ground with ease, just as, among quadrupeds, does the broad snout of the pig, an animal which, like the birds in question, lives on roots. Moreover, in these root-eating birds and in some others of like habits of life, the tips of the bill end in hard points, which gives them additional facility in dealing with herbaceous food.

The several parts which are set on the head have now, pretty nearly all, been considered. In man, however, the part which lies between the head and the neck is called the face, this name, (prosopon) being, it would seem, derived from the function of the part. For as man is the only animal that stands erect, he is also the only one that looks directly in front (proso) and the only one whose voice is emitted in that direction.


We have now to treat of horns; for these also, when present, are appendages of the head. They exist in none but viviparous animals; though in some ovipara certain parts are metaphorically spoken of as horns, in virtue of a certain resemblance. To none of such parts, however, does the proper office of a horn belong; for they are never used, as are the horns of vivipara, for purposes which require strength, whether it be in self-protection or in offensive strife. So also no polydactylous animal is furnished with horns. For horns are defensive weapons, and these polydactylous animals possess other means of security. For to some of them nature has given claws, to others teeth suited for combat, and to the rest some other adequate defensive appliance. There are horns, however, in most of the cloven-hoofed animals, and in some of those that have a solid hoof, serving them as an offensive weapon, and in some cases also as a defensive one. There are horns also in all animals that have not been provided by nature with some other means of security; such means, for instance, as speed, which has been given to horses; or great size, as in camels; for excessive bulk, such as has been given to these animals, and in a still greater measure to elephants, is sufficient in itself to protect an animal from being destroyed by others. Other animals again are protected by the possession of tusks; and among these are the swine, though they have a cloven hoof.

All animals again, whose horns are but useless appendages, have been provided by nature with some additional means of security. Thus deer are endowed with speed; for the large size and great branching of their horns makes these a source of detriment rather than of profit to their possessors. Similarly endowed are the Bubalus and gazelle; for though these animals will stand up against some enemies and defend themselves with their horns, yet they run away from such as are fierce and pugnacious. The Bonasus again, whose horns curve inwards towards each other, is provided with a means of protection in the discharge of its excrement; and of this it avails itself when frightened. There are some other animals besides the Bonasus that have a similar mode of defence. In no case, however, does nature ever give more than one adequate means of protection to one and the same animal.

Most of the animals that have horns are cloven-hoofed; but the Indian ass, as they call it, is also reported to be horned, though its hoof is solid.

Again as the body, so far as regards its organs of motion, consists of two distinct parts, the right and the left, so also and for like reasons the horns of animals are, in the great majority of cases, two in number. Still there are some that have but a single horn; the Oryx, for instance, and the so-called Indian ass; in the former of which the hoof is cloven, while in the latter it is solid. In such animals the horn is set in the centre of the head; for as the middle belongs equally to both extremes, this arrangement is the one that comes nearest to each side having its own horn.

Again, it would appear consistent with reason that the single horn should go with the solid rather than with the cloven hoof. For hoof, whether solid or cloven, is of the same nature as horn; so that the two naturally undergo division simultaneously and in the same animals. Again, since the division of the cloven hoof depends on deficiency of material, it is but rationally consistent, that nature, when she gave an animal an excess of material for the hoofs, which thus became solid, should have taken away something from the upper parts and so made the animal to have but one horn. Rightly too did she act when she chose the head whereon to set the horns; and AEsop's Momus is beside the mark, when he finds fault with the bull for not having its horns upon its shoulders. For from this position, says he, they would have delivered their blow with the greatest force, whereas on the head they occupy the weakest part of the whole body. Momus was but dull-sighted in making this hostile criticism. For had the horns been set on the shoulders, or had they been set on any other part than they are, the encumbrance of their weight would have been increased, not only without any compensating gain whatsoever, but with the disadvantage of impeding many bodily operations. For the point whence the blows could be delivered with the greatest force was not the only matter to be considered, but the point also whence they could be delivered with the widest range. But as the bull has no hands and cannot possibly have its horns on its feet or on its knees, where they would prevent flexion, there remains no other site for them but the head; and this therefore they necessarily occupy. In this position, moreover, they are much less in the way of the movements of the body than they would be elsewhere.

Deer are the only animals in which the horns are solid throughout, and are also the only animals that cast them. This casting is not simply advantageous to the deer from the increased lightness which it produces, but, seeing how heavy the horns are, is a matter of actual necessity.

In all other animals the horns are hollow for a certain distance, and the end alone is solid, this being the part of use in a blow. At the same time, to prevent even the hollow part from being weak, the horn, though it grows out of the skin, has a solid piece from the bones fitted into its cavity. For this arrangement is not only that which makes the horns of the greatest service in fighting, but that which causes them to be as little of an impediment as possible in the other actions of life.

Such then are the reasons for which horns exist; and such the reasons why they are present in some animals, absent from others.

Let us now consider the character of the material nature whose necessary results have been made available by rational nature for a final cause.

In the first place, then, the larger the bulk of animals, the greater is the proportion of corporeal and earthy matter which they contain. Thus no very small animal is known to have horns, the smallest horned animal that we are acquainted with being the gazelle. But in all our speculations concerning nature, what we have to consider is the general rule; for that is natural which applies either universally or generally. And thus when we say that the largest animals have most earthy matter, we say so because such is the general rule. Now this earthy matter is used in the animal body to form bone. But in the larger animals there is an excess of it, and this excess is turned by nature to useful account, being converted into weapons of defence. Part of it necessarily flows to the upper portion of the body, and this is allotted by her in some cases to the formation of tusks and teeth, in others to the formation of horns. Thus it is that no animal that has horns has also front teeth in both jaws, those in the upper jaw being deficient. For nature by subtracting from the teeth adds to the horns; the nutriment which in most animals goes to the former being here spent on the augmentation of the latter. Does, it is true, have no horns and yet are equally deficient with the males as regards the teeth. The reason, however, for this is that they, as much as the males, are naturally horn-bearing animals; but they have been stripped of their horns, because these would not only be useless to them but actually baneful; whereas the greater strength of the males causes these organs, though equally useless, to be less of an impediment. In other animals, where this material is not secreted from the body in the shape of horns, it is used to increase the size of the teeth; in some cases of all the teeth, in others merely of the tusks, which thus become so long as to resemble horns projecting from the jaws.

So much, then, of the parts which appertain to the head.


Below the head lies the neck, in such animals as have one. This is the case with those only that have the parts to which a neck is subservient. These parts are the larynx and what is called the oesophagus. Of these the former, or larynx, exists for the sake of respiration, being the instrument by which such animals as breathe inhale and discharge the air. Therefore it is that, when there is no lung, there is also no neck. Of this condition the Fishes are an example. The other part, or oesophagus, is the channel through which food is conveyed to the stomach; so that all animals that are without a neck are also without a distinct oesophagus; Such a part is in fact not required of necessity for nutritive purposes; for it has no action whatsoever on the food. Indeed there is nothing to prevent the stomach from being placed directly after the mouth. This, however, is quite impossible in the case of the lung. For there must be some sort of tube common to the two divisions of the lung, by which--it being bipartite--the breath may be apportioned to their respective bronchi, and thence pass into the air-pipes; and such an arrangement will be the best for giving perfection to inspiration and expiration. The organ then concerned in respiration must of necessity be of some length; and this, again, necessitates there being an oesophagus to unite mouth and stomach. This oesophagus is of a flesh-like character, and yet admits of extension like a sinew. This latter property is given to it, that it may stretch when food is introduced; while the flesh-like character is intended to make it soft and yielding, and to prevent it from being rasped by particles as they pass downwards, and so suffering damage. On the other hand, the windpipe and the so-called larynx are constructed out of a cartilaginous substance. For they have to serve not only for respiration, but also for vocal purposes; and an instrument that is to produce sounds must necessarily be not only smooth but firm. The windpipe lies in front of the oesophagus, although this position causes it to be some hindrance to the latter in the act of deglutition. For if a morsel of food, fluid or solid, slips into it by accident, choking and much distress and violent fits of coughing ensue. This must be a matter of astonishment to any of those who assert that it is by the windpipe that an animal imbibes fluid. For the consequences just mentioned occur invariably, whenever a particle of food slips in, and are quite obvious. Indeed on many grounds it is ridiculous to say that this is the channel through which animals imbibe fluid. For there is no passage leading from the lung to the stomach, such as the oesophagus which we see leading thither from the mouth. Moreover, when any cause produces sickness and vomiting, it is plain enough when the fluid is discharged. It is manifest also that fluid, when swallowed, does not pass directly into the bladder and collect there, but goes first into the stomach. For, when red wine is taken, the dejections of the stomach are seen to be coloured by its dregs; and such discoloration has been even seen on many occasions inside the stomach itself, in cases where there have been wounds opening into that organ. However, it is perhaps silly to be minutely particular in dealing with silly statements such as this.

The windpipe then, owing to its position in front of the oesophagus, is exposed, as we have said, to annoyance from the food. To obviate this, however, nature has contrived the epiglottis. This part is not found in all sanguineous animals, but only in such of them as have a lung; nor in all of these, but only in such as at the same time have their skin covered with hairs, and not either with scaly plates or with feathers. In such scaly and feathered animals there is no epiglottis, but its office is supplied by the larynx, which closes and opens, just as in the other case the epiglottis falls down and rises up; rising up during the ingress or egress of breath, and falling down during the ingestion of food, so as to prevent any particle from slipping into the windpipe. Should there be the slightest want of accuracy in this movement, or should an inspiration be made during the ingestion of food, choking and coughing ensue, as already has been noticed. So admirably contrived, however, is the movement both of the epiglottis and of the tongue, that, while the food is being ground to a pulp in the mouth, the tongue very rarely gets caught between the teeth; and, while the food is passing over the epiglottis seldom does a particle of it slip into the windpipe.

The animals which have been mentioned as having no epiglottis owe this deficiency to the dryness of their flesh and to the hardness of their skin. For an epiglottis made of such materials would not admit of easy motion. It would, indeed, take a longer time to shut down an epiglottis made of the peculiar flesh of these animals, and shaped like that of those with hairy skins, than to bring the edges of the windpipe itself into contact with each other.

Thus much then as to the reason why some animals have an epiglottis while others have none, and thus much also as to its use. It is a contrivance of nature to remedy the vicious position of the windpipe in front of the oesophagus. That position is the result of necessity. For it is in the front and centre of the body that the heart is situated, in which we say is the principle of life and the source of all motion and sensation. (For sensation and motion are exercised in the direction which we term forwards, and it is on this very relation that the distinction of before and behind is founded.) But where the heart is, there and surrounding it is the lung. Now inspiration, which occurs for the sake of the lung and for the sake of the principle which has its seat in the heart, is effected through the windpipe. Since then the heart must of necessity lie in the very front place of all, it follows that the larynx also and the windpipe must of necessity lie in front of the oesophagus. For they lead to the lung and heart, whereas the oesophagus leads to the stomach. And it is a universal law that, as regards above and below, front and back, right and left, the nobler and more honourable part invariably is placed uppermost, in front, and on the right, rather than in the opposite positions, unless some more important object stands in the way.


We have now dealt with the neck, the oesophagus, and the windpipe, and have next to treat of the viscera. These are peculiar to sanguineous animals, some of which have all of them, others only a part, while no bloodless animals have any at all. Democritus then seems to have been mistaken in the notion he formed of the viscera, if, that is to say, he fancied that the reason why none were discoverable in bloodless animals was that these animals were too small to allow them to be seen. For, in sanguineous animals, both heart and liver are visible enough when the body is only just formed, and while it is still extremely small. For these parts are to be seen in the egg sometimes as early as the third day, being then no bigger than a point; and are visible also in aborted embryos, while still excessively minute. Moreover, as the external organs are not precisely alike in all animals, but each creature is provided with such as are suited to its special mode of life and motion, so is it with the internal parts, these also differing in different animals. Viscera, then, are peculiar to sanguineous animals; and therefore are each and all formed from sanguineous material, as is plainly to be seen in the new-born young of these animals. For in such the viscera are more sanguineous, and of greater bulk in proportion to the body, than at any later period of life, it being in the earliest stage of formation that the nature of the material and its abundance are most conspicuous. There is a heart, then, in all sanguineous animals, and the reason for this has already been given. For that sanguineous animals must necessarily have blood is self-evident. And, as the blood is fluid, it is also a matter of necessity that there shall be a receptacle for it; and it is apparently to meet this requirement that nature has devised the blood-vessels. These, again, must necessarily have one primary source. For it is preferable that there shall be one such, when possible, rather than several. This primary source of the vessels is the heart. For the vessels manifestly issue from it and do not go through it. Moreover, being as it is homogeneous, it has the character of a blood-vessel. Again its position is that of a primary or dominating part. For nature, when no other more important purpose stands in her way, places the more honourable part in the more honourable position; and the heart lies about the centre of the body, but rather in its upper than its lower half, and also more in front than behind. This is most evident in the case of man, but even in other animals there is a tendency in the heart to assume a similar position, in the centre of the necessary part of the body, that is to say of the part which terminates in the vent for excrement. For the limbs vary in position in different animals, and are not to be counted with the parts which are necessary for life. For life can be maintained even when they are removed; while it is self-evident that the addition of them to an animal is not destructive of it.

There are some who say that the vessels commence in the head. In this they are clearly mistaken. For in the first place, according to their representation, there would be many sources for the vessels, and these scattered; and secondly, these sources would be in a region that is manifestly cold, as is shown by its intolerance of chill, whereas the region of the heart is as manifestly hot. Again, as already said, the vessels continue their course through the other viscera, but no vessel spreads through the heart. From this it is quite evident that the heart is a part of the vessels and their origin; and for this it is well suited by its structure. For its central part consists of a dense and hollow substance, and is moreover full of blood, as though the vessels took thence their origin. It is hollow to serve for the reception of the blood, while its wall is dense, that it may serve to protect the source of heat. For here, and here alone in all the viscera and indeed in all the body, there is blood without blood-vessels, the blood elsewhere being always contained within vessels. Nor is this but consistent with reason. For the blood is conveyed into the vessels from the heart, but none passes into the heart from without. For in itself it constitutes the origin and fountain, or primary receptacle, of the blood. It is however, from dissections and from observations on the process of development that the truth of these statements receives its clearest demonstration. For the heart is the first of all the parts to be formed; and no sooner is it formed than it contains blood. Moreover, the motions of pain and pleasure, and generally of all sensation, plainly have their source in the heart, and find in it their ultimate termination. This, indeed, reason would lead us to expect. For the source must, when. ever possible, be one; and, of all places, the best suited for a source is the centre. For the centre is one, and is equally or almost equally within reach of every part. Again, as neither the blood itself, nor yet any part which is bloodless, is endowed with sensation, it is plain that that part which first has blood, and which holds it as it were in a receptacle, must be the primary source of sensation. And that this part is the heart is not only a rational inference, but also evident to the senses. For no sooner is the embryo formed, than its heart is seen in motion as though it were a living creature, and this before any of the other parts, it being, as thus shown, the starting-point of their nature in all animals that have blood. A further evidence of the truth of what has been stated is the fact that no sanguineous animal is without a heart. For the primary source of blood must of necessity be present in them all. It is true that sanguineous animals not only have a heart but also invariably have a liver. But no one could ever deem the liver to be the primary organ either of the whole body or of the blood. For the position in which it is placed is far from being that of a primary or dominating part; and, moreover, in the most perfectly finished animals there is another part, the spleen, which as it were counterbalances it. Still further, the liver contains no spacious receptacle in its substance, as does the heart; but its blood is in a vessel as in all the other viscera. The vessel, moreover, extends through it, and no vessel whatsoever originates in it; for it is from the heart that all the vessels take their rise. Since then one or other of these two parts must be the central source, and since it is not the liver which is such, it follows of necessity that it is the heart which is the source of the blood, as also the primary organ in other respects. For the definitive characteristic of an animal is the possession of sensation; and the first sensory part is that which first has blood; that is to say is the heart, which is the source of blood and the first of the parts to contain it.

The apex of the heart is pointed and more solid than the rest of the organ. It lies against the breast, and entirely in the anterior part of the body, in order to prevent that region from getting chilled. For in all animals there is comparatively little flesh over the breast, whereas there is a more abundant covering of that substance on the posterior surface, so that the heat has in the back a sufficient amount of protection. In all animals but man the heart is placed in the centre of the pectoral region; but in man it inclines a little towards the left, so that it may counterbalance the chilliness of that side. For the left side is colder in man, as compared with the right, than in any other animal. It has been stated in an earlier treatise that even in fishes the heart holds the same position as in other animals; and the reason has been given why it appears not to do so. The apex of the heart, it is true, is in them turned towards the head, but this in fishes is the front aspect, for it is the direction in which their motion occurs.

The heart again is abundantly supplied with sinews, as might reasonably be expected. For the motions of the body commence from the heart, and are brought about by traction and relaxation. The heart therefore, which, as already said,' as it were a living creature inside its possessor, requires some such subservient and strengthening parts.

In no animals does the heart contain a bone, certainly in none of those that we have ourselves inspected, with the exception of the horse and a certain kind of ox. In these exceptional cases the heart, owing to its large bulk, is provided with a bone as a support; just as the bones serve as supports for the body generally.

In animals of great size the heart has three cavities; in smaller animals it has two; and in all has at least one, for, as already stated, there must be some place in the heart to serve as a receptacle for the first blood; which, as has been mentioned more than once, is formed in this organ. But inasmuch as the main blood-vessels are two in number, namely the so-called great vessel and the aorta, each of which is the origin of other vessels; inasmuch, moreover, as these two vessels present differences, hereafter to be discussed, when compared with each other, it is of advantage that they also shall themselves have distinct origins. This advantage will be obtained if each side have its own blood, and the blood of one side be kept separate from that of the other. For this reason the heart, whenever it is possible, has two receptacles. And this possibility exists in the case of large animals, for in them the heart, as the body generally, is of large size. Again it is still better that there shall be three cavities, so that the middle and odd one may serve as a centre common to both sides. But this requires the heart to be of greater magnitude, so that it is only in the largest hearts that there are three cavities.

Of these three cavities it is the right that has the most abundant and the hottest blood, and this explains why the limbs also on the right side of the body are warmer than those on the left. The left cavity has the least blood of all, and the coldest; while in the middle cavity the blood, as regards quantity and heat, is intermediate to the other two, being however of purer quality than either. For it behooves the supreme part to be as tranquil as possible, and this tranquillity can be ensured by the blood being pure, and of moderate amount and warmth.

In the heart of animals there is also a kind of joint-like division, something like the sutures of the skull. This is not, however, attributable to the heart being formed by the union of several parts into a compound whole, but is rather, as already said, the result of a joint-like division. These jointings are most distinct in animals of keen sensibility, and less so in those that are of duller feeling, in swine for instance. Different hearts differ also from each other in their sizes, and in their degrees of firmness; and these differences somehow extend their influence to the temperaments of the animals. For in animals of low sensibility the heart is hard and dense in texture, while it is softer in such as are endowed with keener feeling. So also when the heart is of large size the animal is timorous, while it is more courageous if the organ be smaller and of moderate bulk. For in the former the bodily affection which results from terror already pre-exists; for the bulk of the heart is out of all proportion to the animal's heat, which being small is reduced to insignificance in the large space, and thus the blood is made colder than it would otherwise be.

The heart is of large size in the hare, the deer, the mouse, the hyena, the ass, the leopard, the marten, and in pretty nearly all other animals that either are manifestly timorous, or betray their cowardice by their spitefulness.

What has been said of the heart as a whole is no less true of its cavities and of the blood-vessels; these also if of large size being cold. For just as a fire of equal size gives less heat in a large room than in a small one, so also does the heat in a large cavity or a large blood-vessel, that is in a large receptacle, have less effect than in a small one. Moreover, all hot bodies are cooled by motions external to themselves, and the more spacious the cavities and vessels are, the greater the amount of spirit they contain, and the more potent its action. Thus it is that no animal that has large cavities in its heart, or large blood-vessels, is ever fat, the vessels being indistinct and the cavities small in all or most fat animals.

The heart again is the only one of the viscera, and indeed the only part of the body, that is unable to tolerate any serious affection. This is but what might reasonably be expected. For, if the primary or dominant part be diseased, there is nothing from which the other parts which depend upon it can derive succour. A proof that the heart is thus unable to tolerate any morbid affection is furnished by the fact that in no sacrificial victim has it ever been seen to be affected with those diseases that are observable in the other viscera. For the kidneys are frequently found to be full of stones, and growths, and small abscesses, as also are the liver, the lung, and more than all the spleen. There are also many other morbid conditions which are seen to occur in these parts, those which are least liable to such being the portion of the lung which is close to the windpipe, and the portion of the liver which lies about the junction with the great blood-vessel. This again admits of a rational explanation. For it is in these parts that the lung and liver are most closely in communion with the heart. On the other hand, when animals die not by sacrifice but from disease, and from affections such as are mentioned above, they are found on dissection to have morbid affections of the heart.

Thus much of the heart, its nature, and the end and cause of its existence in such animals as have it.


In due sequence we have next to discuss the blood-vessels, that is to say the great vessel and the aorta. For it is into these two that the blood first passes when it quits the heart; and all the other vessels are but offshoots from them. Now that these vessels exist on account of the blood has already been stated. For every fluid requires a receptacle, and in the case of the blood the vessels are that receptacle. Let us now explain why these vessels are two, and why they spring from one single source, and extend throughout the whole body.

The reason, then, why these two vessels coalesce into one centre, and spring from one source, is that the sensory soul is in all animals actually one; and this one-ness of the sensory soul determines a corresponding one-ness of the part in which it primarily abides. In sanguineous animals this one-ness is not only actual but potential, whereas in some bloodless animals it is only actual. Where, however, the sensory soul is lodged, there also and in the selfsame place must necessarily be the source of heat; and, again, where this is there also must be the source of the blood, seeing that it thence derives its warmth and fluidity. Thus, then, in the oneness of the part in which is lodged the prime source of sensation and of heat is involved the one-ness of the source in which the blood originates; and this, again, explains why the blood-vessels have one common starting-point.

The vessels, again, are two, because the body of every sanguineous animal that is capable of locomotion is bilateral; for in all such animals there is a distinguishable before and behind, a right and left, an above and below. Now as the front is more honourable and of higher supremacy than the hinder aspect, so also and in like degree is the great vessel superior to the aorta. For the great vessel is placed in front, while the aorta is behind; the former again is plainly visible in all sanguineous animals, while the latter is in some indistinct and in some not discernible at all.

Lastly, the reason for the vessels being distributed throughout the entire body is that in them, or in parts analogous to them, is contained the blood, or the fluid which in bloodless animals takes the place of blood, and that the blood or analogous fluid is the material from which the whole body is made. Now as to the manner in which animals are nourished, and as to the source from which they obtain nutriment and as to the way in which they absorb this from the stomach, these are matters which may be more suitably considered and explained in the treatise on Generation. But inasmuch as the parts are, as already said, formed out of the blood, it is but rational that the flow of the blood should extend, as it does, throughout the whole of the body. For since each part is formed of blood, each must have blood about and in its substance.

To give an illustration of this. The water-courses in gardens are so constructed as to distribute water from one single source or fount into numerous channels, which divide and subdivide so as to convey it to all parts; and, again, in house-building stones are thrown down along the whole ground-plan of the foundation walls; because the garden-plants in the one case grow at the expense of the water, and the foundation walls in the other are built out of the stones. Now just after the same fashion has nature laid down channels for the conveyance of the blood throughout the whole body, because this blood is the material out of which the whole fabric is made. This becomes very evident in bodies that have undergone great emaciation. For in such there is nothing to be seen but the blood-vessels; just as when fig-leaves or vine-leaves or the like have dried up, there is nothing left of them but their vessels. The explanation of this is that the blood, or fluid which takes its place, is potentially body and flesh, or substance analogous to flesh. Now just as in irrigation the largest dykes are permanent, while the smallest are soon filled up with mud and disappear, again to become visible when the deposit of mud ceases; so also do the largest blood-vessels remain permanently open, while the smallest are converted actually into flesh, though potentially they are no whit less vessels than before. This too explains why, so long as the flesh of an animal is in its integrity, blood will flow from any part of it whatsoever that is cut, though no vessel, however small, be visible in it. Yet there can be no blood, unless there be a blood-vessel. The vessels then are there, but are invisible owing to their being clogged up, just as the dykes for irrigation are invisible until they have been cleared of mud.

As the blood-vessels advance, they become gradually smaller and smaller, until at last their tubes are too fine to admit the blood. This fluid can therefore no longer find its way through them, though they still give passage to the humour which we call sweat; and especially so when the body is heated, and the mouths of the small vessels are dilated. Instances, indeed, are not unknown of persons who in consequence of a cachectic state have secreted sweat that resembled blood, their body having become loose and flabby, and their blood watery, owing to the heat in the small vessels having been too scanty for its concoction. For, as was before said, every compound of earth and water-and both nutriment and blood are such-becomes thicker from concoction. The inability of the heat to effect concoction may be due either to its being absolutely small in amount, or to its being small in proportion to the quantity of food, when this has been taken excess. This excess again may be of two kinds, either quantitative or qualitative; for all substances are not equally amenable to concoction.

The widest passages in the body are of all parts the most liable to haemorrhage; so that bleeding occurs not infrequently from the nostrils, the gums, and the fundament, occasionally also from the mouth. Such haemorrhages are of a passive kind, and not violent as are those from the windpipe.

The great vessel and the aorta, which above lie somewhat apart, lower down exchange positions, and by so doing give compactness to the body. For when they reach the point where the legs diverge, they each split into two, and the great vessel passes from the front to the rear, and the aorta from the rear to the front. By this they contribute to the unity of the whole fabric. For as in plaited work the parts hold more firmly together because of the interweaving, so also by the interchange of position between the blood-vessels are the anterior and posterior parts of the body more closely knit together. A similar exchange of position occurs also in the upper part of the body, between the vessels that have issued from the heart. The details however of the mutual relations of the different vessels must be looked for in the treatises on Anatomy and the Researches concerning Animals.

So much, then, as concerns the heart and the blood-vessels. We must now pass on to the other viscera and apply the same method of inquiry to them.


The lung, then, is an organ found in all the animals of a certain class, because they live on land. For there must of necessity be some means or other of tempering the heat of the body; and in sanguineous animals, as they are of an especially hot nature, the cooling agency must be external, whereas in the bloodless kinds the innate spirit is sufficient of itself for the purpose. The external cooling agent must be either air or water. In fishes the agent is water. Fishes therefore never have a lung, but have gills in its place, as was stated in the treatise on Respiration. But animals that breathe are cooled by air. These therefore are all provided with a lung.

All land animals breathe, and even some water animals, such as the whale, the dolphin, and all the spouting Cetacea. For many animals lie half-way between terrestrial and aquatic; some that are terrestrial and that inspire air being nevertheless of such a bodily constitution that they abide for the most time in the water; and some that are aquatic partaking so largely of the land character, that respiration constitutes for them the man condition of life.

The organ of respiration is the lung. This derives its motion from the heart; but it is its own large size and spongy texture that affords amplitude of space for entrance of the breath. For when the lung rises up the breath streams in, and is again expelled when the lung collapses. It has been said that the lung exists as a provision to meet the jumping of the heart. But this is out of the question. For man is practically the only animal whose heart presents this phenomenon of jumping, inasmuch as he alone is influenced by hope and anticipation of the future. Moreover, in most animals the lung is separated from the heart by a considerable interval and lies above it, so that it can contribute nothing to mitigate any jumping.

The lung differs much in different animals. For in some it is of large size and contains blood; while in others it is smaller and of spongy texture. In the vivipara it is large and rich in blood, because of their natural heat; while in the ovipara it is small and dry but capable of expanding to a vast extent when inflated. Among terrestrial animals, the oviparous quadrupeds, such as lizards, tortoises, and the like, have this kind of lung; and, among inhabitants of the air, the animals known as birds. For in all these the lung is spongy, and like foam. For it is membranous and collapses from a large bulk to a small one, as does foam when it runs together. In this too lies the explanation of the fact that these animals are little liable to thirst and drink but sparingly, and that they are able to remain for a considerable time under water. For, inasmuch as they have but little heat, the very motion of the lung, airlike and void, suffices by itself to cool them for a considerable period.

These animals, speaking generally, are also distinguished from others by their smaller bulk. For heat promotes growth, and abundance of blood is a sure indication of heat. Heat, again, tends to make the body erect; and thus it is that man is the most erect of animals, and the vivipara more erect than other quadrupeds. For no viviparous animal, be it apodous or be it possessed of feet, is so given to creep into holes as are the ovipara.

The lung, then, exists for respiration; and this is its universal office; but in one order of animals it is bloodless and has the structure described above, to suit the special requirements There is, however, no one term to denote all animals that have a lung; no designation, that is, like the term Bird, applicable to the whole of a certain class. Yet the possession of a lung is a part of their essence, just as much as the presence of certain characters constitutes the essence of a bird.


Of the viscera some appear to be single, as the heart and lung; others to be double, as the kidneys; while of a third kind it is doubtful in which class they should be reckoned. For the liver and the spleen would seem to lie half-way between the single and the double organs. For they may be regarded either as constituting each a single organ, or as a pair of organs resembling each other in character.

In reality, however, all the organs are double. The reason for this is that the body itself is double, consisting of two halves, which are however combined together under one supreme centre. For there is an upper and a lower half, a front and a rear, a right side and a left.

This explains why it is that even the brain and the several organs of sense tend in all animals to consist of two parts; and the same explanation applies to the heart with its cavities. The lung again in Ovipara is divided to such an extent that these animals look as though they had actually two lungs. As to the kidneys, no one can overlook their double character. But when we come to the liver and the spleen, any one might fairly be in doubt. The reason of this is, that, in animals that necessarily have a spleen, this organ is such that it might be taken for a kind of bastard liver; while in those in which a spleen is not an actual necessity but is merely present, as it were, by way of token, in an extremely minute form, the liver plainly consists of two parts; of which the larger tends to lie on the right side and the smaller on the left. Not but what there are some even of the Ovipara in which this condition is comparatively indistinctly marked; while, on the other hand, there are some Vivipara in which the liver is manifestly divided into two parts. Examples of such division are furnished by the hares of certain regions, which have the appearance of having two livers, and by the cartilaginous and some other fishes.

It is the position of the liver on the right side of the body that is the main cause for the formation of the spleen; the existence of which thus becomes to a certain extent a matter of necessity in all animals, though not of very stringent necessity.

The reason, then, why the viscera are bilateral is, as we have said, that there are two sides to the body, a right and a left. For each of these sides aims at similarity with the other, and so likewise do their several viscera; and as the sides, though dual, are knit together into unity, so also do the viscera tend to be bilateral and yet one by unity of constitution.

Those viscera which lie below the diaphragm exist one and all on account of the blood-vessels; serving as a bond, by which these vessels, while floating freely, are yet held in connexion with the body. For the vessels give off branches which run to the body through the outstretched structures, like so many anchorlines thrown out from a ship. The great vessel sends such branches to the liver and the spleen; and these viscera-the liver and spleen on either side with the kidneys behind-attach the great vessel to the body with the firmness of nails. The aorta sends similar branches to each kidney, but none to the liver or spleen.

These viscera, then, contribute in this manner to the compactness of the animal body. The liver and spleen assist, moreover, in the concoction of the food; for both are of a hot character, owing to the blood which they contain. The kidneys, on the other hand, take part in the separation of the excretion which flows into the bladder.

The heart then and the liver are essential constituents of every animal; the liver that it may effect concoction, the heart that it may lodge the central source of heat. For some part or other there must be which, like a hearth, shall hold the kindling fire; and this part must be well protected, seeing that it is, as it were, the citadel of the body.

All sanguineous animals, then, need these two parts; and this explains why these two viscera, and these two alone, are invariably found in them all. In such of them, however, as breathe, there is also as invariably a third, namely the lung. The spleen, on the other hand, is not invariably present; and, in those animals that have it, is only present of necessity in the same sense as the excretions of the belly and of the bladder are necessary, in the sense, that is, of being an inevitable concomitant. Therefore it is that in some animals the spleen is but scantily developed as regards size. This, for instance, is the case in such feathered animals as have a hot stomach. Such are the pigeon, the hawk, and the kite. It is the case also in oviparous quadrupeds, where the spleen is excessively minute, and in many of the scaly fishes. These same animals are also without a bladder, because the loose texture of their flesh allows the residual fluid to pass through and to be applied to the formation of feathers and scales. For the spleen attracts the residual humours from the stomach, and owing to its bloodlike character is enabled to assist in their concoction. Should, however, this residual fluid be too abundant, or the heat of the spleen be too scanty, the body becomes sickly from over-repletion with nutriment. Often, too, when the spleen is affected by disease, the belly becomes hard owing to the reflux into it of the fluid; just as happens to those who form too much urine, for they also are liable to a similar diversion of the fluids into the belly. But in those animals that have but little superfluous fluid to excrete, such as birds and fishes, the spleen is never large, and in some exists no more than by way of token. So also in the oviparous quadrupeds it is small, compact, and like a kidney. For their lung is spongy, and they drink but little, and such superfluous fluid as they have is applied to the growth of the body and the formation of scaly plates, just as in birds it is applied to the formation of feathers.

On the other hand, in such animals as have a bladder, and whose lung contains blood, the spleen is watery, both for the reason already mentioned, and also because the left side of the body is more watery and colder than the right. For each of two contraries has been so placed as to go together with that which is akin to it in another pair of contraries. Thus right and left, hot and cold, are pairs of contraries; and right is conjoined with hot, after the manner described, and left with cold.

The kidneys when they are present exist not of actual necessity, but as matters of greater finish and perfection. For by their special character they are suited to serve in the excretion of the fluid which collects in the bladder. In animals therefore where this fluid is very abundantly formed, their presence enables the bladder to perform its proper office with greater perfection.

Since then both kidneys and bladder exist in animals for one and the same function, we must next treat of the bladder, though in so doing we disregard the due order of succession in which the parts should be enumerated. For not a word has yet been said of the midriff, which is one of the parts that environ the viscera and therefore has to be considered with them.


It is not every animal that has a bladder; those only being apparently intended by nature to have one, whose lung contains blood. To such it was but reasonable that she should give this part. For the superabundance in their lung of its natural constituents causes them to be the thirstiest of animals, and makes them require a more than ordinary quantity not merely of solid but also of liquid nutriment. This increased consumption necessarily entails the production of an increased amount of residue; which thus becomes too abundant to be concocted by the stomach and excreted with its own residual matter. The residual fluid must therefore of necessity have a receptacle of its own; and thus it comes to pass that all animals whose lung contains blood are provided with a bladder. Those animals, on the other hand, that are without a lung of this character, and that either drink but sparingly owing to their lung being of a spongy texture, or never imbibe fluid at all for drinking's sake but only as nutriment, insects for instance and fishes, and that are moreover clad with feathers or scales or scaly plates-all these animals, owing to the small amount of fluid which they imbibe, and owing also to such residue as there may be being converted into feathers and the like, are invariably without a bladder. The Tortoises, which are comprised among animals with scaly plates, form the only exception; and this is merely due to the imperfect development of their natural conformation; the explanation of the matter being that in the sea-tortoises the lung is flesh-like and contains blood, resembling the lung of the ox, and that in the land-tortoises it is of disproportionately large size. Moreover, inasmuch as the covering which invests them is dense and shell-like, so that the moisture cannot exhale through the porous flesh, as it does in birds and in snakes and other animals with scaly plates, such an amount of secretion is formed that some special part is required to receive and hold it. This then is the reason why these animals, alone of their kind, have a bladder, the sea-tortoise a large one, the land-tortoises an extremely small one.


What has been said of the bladder is equally true of the kidneys. For these also are wanting in all animals that are clad with feathers or with scales or with scale-like plates; the sea and land tortoises forming the only exception. In some of the birds, however, there are flattened kidney like bodies, as though the flesh allotted to the formation of the kidneys, unable to find one single place of sufficient size, had been scattered over several.

The Emys [the fresh-water tortoise] has neither bladder nor kidneys. For the softness of its shell allows of the ready transpiration of fluid; and for this reason neither of the organs mentioned exists in this animal. All other animals, however, whose lung contains blood are, as before said, provided with kidneys. For nature uses these organs for two separate purposes, namely for the excretion of the residual fluid, and to subserve the blood-vessels, a channel leading to them from the great vessel.

In the centre of the kidney is a cavity of variable size. This is the case in all animals, excepting the seal. The kidneys of this animal are more solid than those of any other, and in form resemble the kidneys of the ox. The human kidneys are of similar shape; being as it were made up of numerous small kidneys, and not presenting one unbroken surface like the kidneys of sheep and other quadrupeds. For this reason, should the kidneys of a man be once attacked by disease, the malady is not easily expelled. For it is as though many kidneys were diseased and not merely one; which naturally enhances the difficulties of a cure.

The duct which runs to the kidney from the great vessel does not terminate in the central cavity, but is expended on the substance of the organ, so that there is no blood in the cavity, nor is any coagulum found there after death. A pair of stout ducts, void of blood, run, one from the cavity of each kidney, to the bladder; and other ducts, strong and continuous, lead into the kidneys from the aorta. The purpose of this arrangement is to allow the superfluous fluid to pass from the blood-vessel into the kidney, and the resulting renal excretion to collect by the percolation of the fluid through the solid substance of the organ, in its centre, where as a general rule there is a cavity. (This by the way explains why the kidney is the most ill-savoured of all the viscera.) From the central cavity the fluid is discharged into the bladder by the ducts that have been mentioned, having already assumed in great degree the character of excremental residue. The bladder is as it were moored to the kidneys; for, as already has been stated, it is attached to them by strong ducts. These then are the purposes for which the kidneys exist, and such the functions of these organs.

In all animals that have kidneys, that on the right is placed higher than that on the left. For inasmuch as motion commences from the right, and the organs on this side are in consequence stronger than those on the left, they must all push upwards in advance of their opposite fellows; as may be seen in the fact that men even raise the right eyebrow more than the left, and that the former is more arched than the latter. The right kidney being thus drawn upwards is in all animals brought into contact with the liver; for the liver lies on the right side.

Of all the viscera the kidneys are those that have the most fat. This is in the first place the result of necessity, because the kidneys are the parts through which the residual matters percolate. For the blood which is left behind after this excretion, being of pure quality, is of easy concoction, and the final result of thorough blood-concoction is lard and suet. For just as a certain amount of fire is left in the ashes of solid substances after combustion, so also does a remnant of the heat that has been developed remain in fluids after concoction; and this is the reason why oily matter is light, and floats on the surface of other fluids. The fat is not formed in the kidneys themselves, the density of their substance forbidding this, but is deposited about their external surface. It consists of lard or of suet, according as the animal's fat is of the former or latter character. The difference between these two kinds of fat has already been set forth in other passages. The formation, then, of fat in the kidneys is the result of necessity; being, as explained, a consequence of the necessary conditions which accompany the possession of such organs. But at the same time the fat has a final cause, namely to ensure the safety of the kidneys, and to maintain their natural heat. For placed, as these organs are, close to the surface, they require a greater supply of heat than other parts. For while the back is thickly covered with flesh, so as to form a shield for the heart and neighbouring viscera, the loins, in accordance with a rule that applies to all bendings, are destitute of flesh; and fat is therefore formed as a substitute for it, so that the kidneys may not be without protection. The kidneys, moreover, by being fat are the better enabled to secrete and concoct their fluid; for fat is hot, and it is heat that effects concoction.

Such, then, are the reasons why the kidneys are fat. But in all animals the right kidney is less fat than its fellow. The reason for this is, that the parts on the right side are naturally more solid and more suited for motion than those on the left. But motion is antagonistic to fat, for it tends to melt it.

Animals then, as a general rule, derive advantage from their kidneys being fat; and the fat is often very abundant and extends over the whole of these organs. But, should the like occur in the sheep, death ensues. Be its kidneys, however, as fat as they may, they are never so fat but that some part, if not in both at any rate in the right one, is left free. The reason why sheep are the only animals that suffer in this manner, or suffer more than others, is that in animals whose fat is composed of lard this is of fluid consistency, so that there is not the same chance in their case of wind getting shut in and causing mischief. But it is to such an enclosure of wind that rot is due. And thus even in men, though it is beneficial to them to have fat kidneys, yet should these organs become over-fat and diseased, deadly pains ensue. As to those animals whose fat consists of suet, in none is the suet so dense as in the sheep, neither is it nearly so abundant; for of all animals there is none in which the kidneys become so soon gorged with fat as in the sheep. Rot, then, is produced by the moisture and the wind getting shut up in the kidneys, and is a malady that carries off sheep with great rapidity. For the disease forthwith reaches the heart, passing thither by the aorta and the great vessel, the ducts which connect these with the kidneys being of unbroken continuity.


We have now dealt with the heart and the lung, as also with the liver, spleen, and kidneys. The latter are separated from the former by the midriff or, as some call it, the Phrenes. This divides off the heart and lung, and, as already said, is called Phrenes in sanguineous animals, all of which have a midriff, just as they all have a heart and a liver. For they require a midriff to divide the region of the heart from the region of the stomach, so that the centre wherein abides the sensory soul may be undisturbed, and not be overwhelmed, directly food is taken, by its up-steaming vapour and by the abundance of heat then superinduced. For it was to guard against this that nature made a division, constructing the midriff as a kind of partition-wall and fence, and so separated the nobler from the less noble parts, in all cases where a separation of upper from lower is possible. For the upper part is the more honourable, and is that for the sake of which the rest exists; while the lower part exists for the sake of the upper and constitutes the necessary element in the body, inasmuch as it is the recipient of the food.

That portion of the midriff which is near the ribs is fleshier and stronger than the rest, but the central part has more of a membranous character; for this structure conduces best to its strength and its extensibility. Now that the midriff, which is a kind of outgrowth from the sides of the thorax, acts as a screen to prevent heat mounting up from below, is shown by what happens, should it, owing to its proximity to the stomach, attract thence the hot and residual fluid. For when this occurs there ensues forthwith a marked disturbance of intellect and of sensation. It is indeed because of this that the midriff is called Phrenes, as though it had some share in the process of thinking (Phronein). in reality, however, it has no part whatsoever itself in the matter, but, lying in close proximity to organs that have, it brings about the manifest changes of intelligence in question by acting upon them. This too explains why its central part is thin. For though this is in some measure the result of necessity, inasmuch as those portions of the fleshy whole which lie nearest to the ribs must necessarily be fleshier than the rest, yet besides this there is a final cause, namely to give it as small a proportion of humour as possible; for, had it been made of flesh throughout, it would have been more likely to attract and hold a large amount of this. That heating of it affects sensation rapidly and in a notable manner is shown by the phenomena of laughing. For when men are tickled they are quickly set a-laughing, because the motion quickly reaches this part, and heating it though but slightly nevertheless manifestly so disturbs the mental action as to occasion movements that are independent of the will. That man alone is affected by tickling is due firstly to the delicacy of his skin, and secondly to his being the only animal that laughs. For to be tickled is to be set in laughter, the laughter being produced such a motion as mentioned of the region of the armpit.

It is said also that when men in battle are wounded anywhere near the midriff, they are seen to laugh, owing to the heat produced by the wound. This may possibly be the case. At any rate it is a statement made by much more credible persons than those who tell the story of the human head, how it speaks after it is cut off. For so some assert, and even call in Homer to support them, representing him as alluding to this when he wrote, 'His head still speaking rolled into the dust,' instead of 'The head of the speaker'. So fully was the possibility of such an occurrence accepted in Caria, that one of that country was actually brought to trial under the following circumstances. The priest of Zeus Hoplosmios had been murdered; but as yet it had not been ascertained who was the assassin; when certain persons asserted that they had heard the murdered man's head, which had been severed from the body, repeat several times the words, 'Cercidas slew man on man.' Search was thereupon made and a man of those parts who bore the name of Cercidas hunted out and put upon his trial. But it is impossible that any one should utter a word when the windpipe is severed and no motion any longer derived from the lung. Moreover, among the Barbarians, where heads are chopped off with great rapidity, nothing of the kind has ever yet occurred. Why, again, does not the like occur in the case of other animals than man? For that none of them should laugh, when their midriff is wounded, is but what one would expect; for no animal but man ever laughs. So, too, there is nothing irrational in supposing that the trunk may run forwards to a certain distance after the head has been cut seeing that bloodless animals at any rate can live, and that for a considerable time, after decapitation, as has been set forth and explained in other passages.

The purposes, then, for which the viscera severally exist have now been stated. It is of necessity upon the inner terminations of the vessels that they are developed; for humour, and that of a bloody character, cannot but exude at these points, and it is of this, solidified and coagulated, that the substance of the viscera is formed. Thus they are of a bloody character, and in substance resemble each other while they differ from other parts.


The viscera are enclosed each in a membrane. For they require some covering to protect them from injury, and require, moreover, that this covering shall be light. To such requirements membrane is well adapted; for it is close in texture so as to form a good protection, destitute of flesh so as neither to attract humour nor retain it, and thin so as to be light and not add to the weight of the body. Of the membranes those are the stoutest and strongest which invest the heart and the brain; as is but consistent with reason. For these are the parts which require most protection, seeing that they are the main governing powers of life, and that it is to governing powers that guard is due.


Some animals have all the viscera that have been enumerated; others have only some of them. In what kind of animals this latter is the case, and what is the explanation, has already been stated. Moreover, the self-same viscera present differences in different possessors. For the heart is not precisely alike in all animals that have one; nor, in fact, is any viscus whatsoever. Thus the liver is in some animals split into several parts, while in others it is comparatively undivided. Such differences in its form present themselves even among those sanguineous animals that are viviparous, but are more marked in fishes and in the oviparous quadrupeds, and this whether we compare them with each other or with the Vivipara. As for birds, their liver very nearly resembles that of the Vivipara; for in them, as in these, it is of a pure and blood-like colour. The reason of this is that the body in both these classes of animals admits of the freest exhalation, so that the amount of foul residual matter within is but small. Hence it is that some of the Vivipara are without any gall-bladder at all. For the liver takes a large share in maintaining the purity of composition and the healthiness of the body. For these are conditions that depend finally and in the main upon the blood, and there is more blood in the liver than in any of the other viscera, the heart only excepted. On the other hand, the liver of oviparous quadrupeds and fishes inclines, as a rule, to a yellow hue, and there are even some of them in which it is entirely of this bad colour, in accordance with the bad composition of their bodies generally. Such, for instance, is the case in the toad, the tortoise, and other similar animals.

The spleen, again, varies in different animals. For in those that have horns and cloven hoofs, such as the goat, the sheep, and the like, it is of a rounded form; excepting when increased size has caused some part of it to extend its growth longitudinally, as has happened in the case of the ox. On the other hand, it is elongated in all polydactylous animals. Such, for instance, is the case in the pig, in man, and in the dog. While in animals with solid hoofs it is of a form intermediate to these two, being broad in one part, narrow in another. Such, for example, is its shape in the horse, the mule, and the ass.


The viscera differ from the flesh not only in the turgid aspect of their substance, but also in position; for they lie within the body, whereas the flesh is placed on the outside. The explanation of this is that these parts partake of the character of blood-vessels, and that while the former exist for the sake of the vessels, the latter cannot exist without them.


Below the midriff lies the stomach, placed at the end of the oesophagus when there is one, and in immediate contiguity with the mouth when the oesophagus is wanting. Continuous with this stomach is what is called the gut. These parts are present in all animals, for reasons that are self-evident. For it is a matter of necessity that an animal shall receive the incoming food; and necessary also that it shall discharge the same when its goodness is exhausted. This residual matter, again, must not occupy the same place as the yet unconcocted nutriment. For as the ingress of food and the discharge of the residue occur at distinct periods, so also must they necessarily occur in distinct places. Thus there must be one receptacle for the ingoing food and another for the useless residue, and between these, therefore, a part in which the change from one condition to the other may be effected. These, however, are matters which will be more suitably set forth when we come to deal with Generation and Nutrition. What we have at present to consider are the variations presented by the stomach and its subsidiary parts. For neither in size nor in shape are these parts uniformly alike in all animals. Thus the stomach is single in all such sanguineous and viviparous animals as have teeth in front of both jaws. It is single therefore in all the polydactylous kinds, such as man, dog, lion, and the rest; in all the solid-hoofed animals also, such as horse, mule, ass; and in all those which, like the pig, though their hoof is cloven, yet have front teeth in both jaws. When, however, an animal is of large size, and feeds on substances of so thorny and ligneous a character as to be difficult of concoction, it may in consequence have several stomachs, as for instance is the case with the camel. A similar multiplicity of stomachs exists also in the horned animals; the reason being that horn-bearing animals have no front teeth in the upper jaw. The camel also, though it has no horns, is yet without upper front teeth. The explanation of this is that it is more essential for the camel to have a multiple stomach than to have these teeth. Its stomach, then, is constructed like that of animals without upper front teeth, and, its dental arrangements being such as to match its stomach, the teeth in question are wanting. They would indeed be of no service. Its food, moreover, being of a thorny character, and its tongue necessarily made of a fleshy substance, nature uses the earthy matter which is saved from the teeth to give hardness to the palate. The camel ruminates like the horned animals, because its multiple stomach resembles theirs. For all animals that have horns, the sheep for instance, the ox, the goat, the deer, and the like, have several stomachs. For since the mouth, owing to its lack of teeth, only imperfectly performs its office as regards the food, this multiplicity of stomachs is intended to make up for its shortcomings; the several cavities receiving the food one from the other in succession; the first taking the unreduced substances, the second the same when somewhat reduced, the third when reduction is complete, and the fourth when the whole has become a smooth pulp. Such is the reason why there is this multiplicity of parts and cavities in animals with such dentition. The names given to the several cavities are the paunch, the honeycomb bag, the manyplies, and the reed. How these parts are related to each other, in position and in shape, must be looked for in the treatises on Anatomy and the Researches concerning Animals.

Birds also present variations in the part which acts as a recipient of the food; and the reason for these variations is the same as in the animals just mentioned. For here again it is because the mouth fails to perform its office and fails even more completely-for birds have no teeth at all, nor any instrument whatsoever with which to comminute or grind down their food-it is, I say, because of this, that in some of them what is called the crop precedes the stomach and does the work of the mouth; while in others the oesophagus is either wide throughout or a part of it bulges just before it enters the stomach, so as to form a preparatory store-house for the unreduced food; or the stomach itself has a protuberance in some part, or is strong and fleshy, so as to be able to store up the food for a considerable period and to concoct it, in spite of its not having been ground into a pulp. For nature retrieves the inefficiency of the mouth by increasing the efficiency and heat of the stomach. Other birds there are, such, namely, as have long legs and live in marshes, that have none of these provisions, but merely an elongated oesophagus. The explanation of this is to be found in the moist character of their food. For all these birds feed on substances easy of reduction, and their food being moist and not requiring much concoction, their digestive cavities are of a corresponding character.

Fishes are provided with teeth, which in almost all of them are of the sharp interfitting kind. For there is but one small section in which it is otherwise. Of these the fish called Scarus (Parrot-fish) is an example. And this is probably the reason why this fish apparently ruminates, though no other fishes do so. For those horned animals that have no front teeth in the upper jaw also ruminate.

In fishes the teeth are all sharp; so that these animals can divide their food, though imperfectly. For it is impossible for a fish to linger or spend time in the act of mastication, and therefore they have no teeth that are flat or suitable for grinding; for such teeth would be to no purpose. The oesophagus again in some fishes is entirely wanting, and in the rest is but short. In order, however, to facilitate the concoction of the food, some of them, as the Cestreus (mullet), have a fleshy stomach resembling that of a bird; while most of them have numerous processes close against the stomach, to serve as a sort of antechamber in which the food may be stored up and undergo putrefaction and concoction. There is contrast between fishes and birds in the position of these processes. For in fishes they are placed close to the stomach; while in birds, if present at all, they are lower down, near the end of the gut. Some of the Vivipara also have processes connected with the lower part of the gut which serve the same purpose as that stated above.

The whole tribe of fishes is of gluttonous appetite, owing to the arrangements for the reduction of their food being very imperfect, and much of it consequently passing through them without undergoing concoction; and, of all, those are the most gluttonous that have a straight intestine. For as the passage of food in such cases is rapid, and the enjoyment derived from it in consequence but brief, it follows of necessity that the return of appetite is also speedy.

It has already been mentioned that in animals with front teeth in both jaws the stomach is of small size. It may be classed pretty nearly always under one or other of two headings, namely as resembling the stomach of the dog, or as resembling the stomach of the pig. In the pig the stomach is larger than in the dog, and presents certain folds of moderate size, the purpose of which is to lengthen out the period of concoction; while the stomach of the dog is of small size, not much larger in calibre than the gut, and smooth on the internal surface.

Not much larger, I say, than the gut; for in all animals after the stomach comes the gut. This, like the stomach, presents numerous modifications. For in some animals it is uniform, when uncoiled, and alike throughout, while in others it differs in different portions. Thus in some cases it is wider in the neighbourhood of the stomach, and narrower towards the other end; and this explains by the way why dogs have to strain so much in discharging their excrement. But in most animals it is the upper portion that is the narrower and the lower that is of greater width.

Of greater length than in other animals, and much convoluted, are the intestines of those that have horns. These intestines, moreover, as also the stomach, are of ampler volume, in accordance with the larger size of the body. For animals with horns are, as a rule, animals of no small bulk, because of the thorough elaboration which their food undergoes. The gut, except in those animals where it is straight, invariably widens out as we get farther from the stomach and come to what is called the colon, and to a kind of caecal dilatation. After this it again becomes narrower and convoluted. Then succeeds a straight portion which runs right on to the vent. This vent is known as the anus, and is in some animals surrounded by fat, in others not so. All these parts have been so contrived by nature as to harmonize with the various operations that relate to the food and its residue. For, as the residual food gets farther on and lower down, the space to contain it enlarges, allowing it to remain stationary and undergo conversion. Thus is it in those animals which, owing either to their large size, or to the heat of the parts concerned, require more nutriment, and consume more fodder than the rest.

Neither is it without a purpose, that, just as a narrower gut succeeds to the upper stomach, so also does the residual food, when its goodness is thoroughly exhausted, pass from the colon and the ample space of the lower stomach into a narrower channel and into the spiral coil. For so nature can regulate her expenditure and prevent the excremental residue from being discharged all at once.

In all such animals, however, as have to be comparatively moderate in their alimentation, the lower stomach presents no wide and roomy spaces, though their gut is not straight, but has a number of convolutions. For amplitude of space causes desire for ample food, and straightness of the intestine causes quick return of appetite. And thus it is that all animals whose food receptacles are either simple or spacious are of gluttonous habits, the latter eating enormously at a meal, the former making meals at short intervals.

Again, since the food in the upper stomach, having just been swallowed, must of necessity be quite fresh, while that which has reached the lower stomach must have had its juices exhausted and resemble dung, it follows of necessity that there must also be some intermediate part, in which the change may be effected, and where the food will be neither perfectly fresh nor yet dung. And thus it is that, in all such animals as we are now considering, there is found what is called the jejunum; which is a part of the small gut, of the gut, that is, which comes next to the stomach. For this jejunum lies between the upper cavity which contains the yet unconcocted food and the lower cavity which holds the residual matter, which by the time it has got here has become worthless. There is a jejunum in all these animals, but it is only plainly discernible in those of large size, and this only when they have abstained from food for a certain time. For then alone can one hit on the exact period when the food lies half-way between the upper and lower cavities; a period which is very short, for the time occupied in the transition of food is but brief. In females this jejunum may occupy any part whatsoever of the upper intestine, but in males it comes just before the caecum and the lower stomach.


What is known as rennet is found in all animals that have a multiple stomach, and in the hare among animals whose stomach is single. In the former the rennet neither occupies the large paunch, nor the honeycomb bag, nor the terminal reed, but is found in the cavity which separates this terminal one from the two first, namely in the so-called manyplies. It is the thick character of their milk which causes all these animals to have rennet; whereas in animals with a single stomach the milk is thin, and consequently no rennet is formed. It is this difference in thickness which makes the milk of horned animals coagulate, while that of animals without horns does not. Rennet forms in the hare because it feeds on herbage that has juice like that of the fig; for juice of this kind coagulates the milk in the stomach of the sucklings. Why it is in the manyplies that rennet is formed in animals with multiple stomachs has been stated in the Problems.

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