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History of Animals, Book I, Ch. 9

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  1. Hear the lesson prelection.
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Prelection

 

Lesson

1 . The part of the head by which we hear, but do not breathe, is the ear; for Alcmæon is mistaken when he says that goats breathe through their ears. One part of the ear has not received any name, the other part is called the lobe. The whole ear is made up of cartilage and flesh. Internally, the ear has the nature of a shell, and the last bone is similar to the ear itself. The sound reaches this part last, as it were in a chamber. There is no passage from the ear into the brain, but there is to the roof of the mouth; and a vein extends from the brain to each ear. The eyes also are connected with the brain, and each eye is placed upon a vein.

2. Man is the only animal with ears that cannot move them. Among animals which have the faculty of hearing; some have ears, and others, as winged and scaly creatures, have no ear, but an open orifice in the head; all viviparous animals, except the seal, and the dolphin, and other cetacea, have ears; the selache also are viviparous. The seal has open orifices by which it hears; the dolphin can hear, though it has no ears; all other animals can move their ears, but man alone does not move them.

3. The ears (of man) lie in the same circle with his eyes, and not above them, as in some quadrupeds. The ears are either smooth, hairy, or moderate. These last are the best for hearing, but they do not in any way indicate the disposition. They are large, or small or middling, or they are erect, or not at all, or only moderately erect. The moderately erect are a sign of the best disposition; large and erect ears are an evidence of foolish talking and loquacity.  The part of the head between the eye and the ear is called the temple.

4. In the middle of the face is the nose, the passage for the breath, for through this animals inhale and exhale, and through it also they sneeze; this is the expulsion of a concentrated breath, and is the only kind of breathing which is esteemed ominous or sacred: moreover, inhaling and exhaling is into the chest, and without the nostrils it is impossible to inhale or exhale, for inhaling and exhaling is from the breast by the windpipe, and not from any part of the head. But it is possible to live without this respiration through the nostrils. The smell also resides in this part; this is the sense of odour. The nostril is very moveable, and not naturally immoveable like the ear.

5. One part of the nose, namely, the division between the nostrils, is cartilaginous, but the passage is empty, for the nose is formed of two divisions. In the elephant, the nostril is very large and strong, and it answers to the purpose of a hand , for the animal can extend it, and with it take its food, and convey it to its mouth, whether the food is moist or dry. This is the only animal that can do so.

6. There are also two jaws, the upper and the lower. All animals move the lower jaw, except the river-crocodile, and this moves the upper jaw only. Below the nose are two lips, the flesh of which is very moveable. The mouth is the centre of the jaws and the lips. The upper part is called the roof of the mouth, the lower, the pharynx. The tongue is the organ of taste. This sense resides in the tip, and, if food is placed on the broad part of the tongue, the taste is less acute. The tongue partakes of all the other sensations, as harshness, heat, and cold , as well as that of taste , in common with the rest of the flesh.

7. The flat part of the tongue is either narrow or moderate in size, the moderate is the best, and most apt for clear elocution. The tongue may be either too loose, or tied down, as in stammerers and inarticulate speakers. The flesh of the tongue is porous and spongy. The epiglottis is a portion of the tongue, the double part of the mouth is the tonsils; that in many divisions the gums, they are fleshy, and in them are fixed the bony teeth. Within the mouth there is another part, the uvula, a pillar filled with blood. If this part is swelled with relaxation, it is called a grape, and chokes.

Source:  Aristotle, History of Animals; translated by Richard Cresswell, M.A. (1862)

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