The Works of Aristotle - Of the Ears.

Of the Ears.

Why do beasts move their ears and not men?
Because there is a certain muscle near unto the jaw which doth cause motion in the ear; and therefore, that muscle being extended and stretched, men do not move their ear, as it hath been seen in divers men, but all beasts do use that muscle or fleshy sinew, and therefore do move their ears.

Why is rain prognosticated by the pricking up of asses' ears?
Because the ass is a very melancholy beast, and it proceedeth from melancholy that he doth foresee rain to come. In the time of rain all beasts do prick up their ears, and therefore the ass, perceiving that it will rain, doth prick up his ears before it come.

Why have some beasts no ears?
Aristotle doth answer and say, that nature doth give unto every thing that which is fit for it; but if she should have given birds ears, their flying would have been hindered by them; likewise fish do want ears, because they would hinder their swimming, and have only certain little holes through which they hear, as Aristotle declares by the sea-calf.

Why have bats ears, seeing they seem to be birds?
Because they are partly birds in nature, in that they do fly, by reason whereof they have wings, and pertly they are hairy, because they are mice; therefore nature, as being wise gave them ears.

Why have men only round ears?
Because the shape of the whole and of the parts should be proportionable, and especially, in all things of one nature; or as a drop of water is round, so th. whole water, John de sacro Bosco doth prove; and so because a man's head is round, the ears incline towards the same figure; but the heads of beasts are somewhat long, and so the ears are drawn into length also.

Why did nature give living creatures ears?
For two causes: 1. Because with them they should hear. 2. Because that by the ear choleric superfluity is purged; for as the head is purged of phlegmatic superfluity by the nose, so from choleric by the ears.

 

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