The Works of Aristotle - Of Carnal Copulation.

Of Carnal Copulation.

Why do living creatures use carnal copulation?
Because it is the most natural work that is in them to beget their like, for if copulation were not, all procreation had sunk ere now.

What is this carnal copulation?
It is a mutual action of male and female, with instruments ordained for that purpose to propagate their kind; and therefore divines say, it is a sin to use that act for any other end.

Why is this action good in those who use it lawfully and moderately?
Because, say Avicen and Const, it eases and lightens the body, clears the mind, comforts the head and senses, and expels the melancholy. Therefore, sometimes through the omission of this act, dimness of sight doth ensue, and giddiness, besides the seed of man retained above its due time is converted into some infectious humour.

Why is immoderate carnal copulation hurtful?
Because it destroys the sight, drys the body, and impairs the brain; often causes fevers, as Avicen and experience show; it shortens life too, as is evident in the sparrow, which, by reason of it often coupling, lives but three years.

Why doth carnal copulation injure melancholy or choleric men. especially thin men?
Because it drys the bones much, which are naturally so. On the contrary, it is good for the phlegmatic and sanguine, as Avicen says, because they abound with that substance which by nature is necessarily expelled. Though Aristotle affirms, that every fat creature has but little seed because the substance turns to fat.

Why don't female brute beasts covet carnal copulation after they be great with young?
Because then the womb or matrix is shut, and desire doth cease.

Why should not the act be used when the body is full?
Because it hinders digestion, and it is not good for a hungry belly, because it weakens him.

Why is it not good after a birth?
Because then the pores are open, and the heat disperses through, the body; yet after bathing it cools the body very much.

Why is it not proper after vomiting or looseness?
Because it is dangerous to purge twice in one day; but so it is in this act the reins are purged, and the guts by the vomit.

Why are wild beasts furious when they couple, as appears in asses which bray; and harts, who are mad almost, as Hippocrates says?
Their blood is kindled with desire, and nature also labours to expel superfluities in them, which dispose to anger and madness: therefore the act done, they are tame and gentle.

Why is there such delight in the act of venery?
Because this act is a base and contemptible thing in itself, insomuch that all creatures would naturally abhor it were there no pleasure in it, and therefore nature readily uses it, that all kinds of living things should be maintained and kept.

Why do such as use it often take less delight in it than those who come to it seldom?
For three reasons: First, because the passages of the seed are over large and wide, therefore, it makes no stay there, which would cause the delight. Secondly, because that through often evacuation there is little seed left, therefore no delight. Thirdly, because such, instead of seed, cast out blood undigested and raw, or some other watery substance which is not hot, and therefore affords no delight.

Whether can this carnal copulation be done by the mouth, so that beasts may conceive thereby, as some say of pigeons, that by kissing they do it, and conceive, some say that it is true in the weasel and ermine?
According to Aristotle it is false; for though pigeons do kiss by the beak, yet they do not couple this way nor conceive. And because the weasel carries his young ones from place to place in his mouth they are of that opinion; wherefore Aristotle says, whatever goes in at the mouth is consumed by digestion, and if the seed should go in at the mouth then that would be consumed by digestion. The major part is plain, the conclusion doth hold in Davii.

 

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