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The Works of Aristotle - Of the Head.

Of the Head.


Why is a man's head round?
Because this is most fit to receive anything into it, as Aristotle doth affirm, lib. de cael., and the head doth contain in it five senses. This is also seen in a material sphere.

Why is the head round?
Aristotle saith, because it doth contain in it the moistest parts of the living creatures, and also because the brain may be defended thereby as with a shield.

Why is the head absolutely long, but somewhat round?
To the end the three creeks and cells of the brain might better be distinguished; that is the fancy in the forehead, the discoursing or reasonable pert in the middle, and memory in the hindermost part.

Why doth a man lift up his head towards the heavens when he doth imagine?
Because the imagination is in the forepart of the head or brain, and therefore it lifteth up itself, that the creeks or cells of the imagination may be opened, and that the spirits which help the imagination, and are fit for that purpose, having their concourse thither, may help the imagination.

Why doth a man when he museth, or thinketh on things past, look down towards the earth?
Because the cell or creek which is behind is the creek or chamber of memory, and therefore that looketh towards heaven when the head is bowed down; and so that cell is open, to the end that the spirits which perfect the memory should enter in.

Why is not the head fleshy, like other parts of the body?
Because that, according to Aristotle, the head would be too heavy, and would not stand steadfastly; and therefore it is without flesh. Also a head loaded with flesh doth betoken an evil complexion.

Why is the head subject to aches and griefs?
According unto Constant, by reason of evil humours which proceed from the stomach, ascend up to the head, and disturb the brain, and so cause the pain in the head. And sometimes it proceeds from over-much filling the stomach, because, according unto the opinion of Galen, two great sinews pass from the brain to the mouth of the stomach, and therefore these two parts do suffer grief always together. Sometimes the headache doth proceed of drinking strong wine, of fuming meats, as garlic or onion, and sometimes of phlegm in the stomach, whereof spring quotidian fevers.

Why have women the headache more often than men?
Albertus saith that it is by reason of their monthly terms, which men are not troubled with, and so a moist, unclean, and venomous fume is dissolved, the which seeking passage upward. dub cause the headache.

Why is the brain white?
There are two answers: the first, because it is cold, and coldness is the mother of white: the philosophers do teach the second, because it may have the similitude and likeness of all colours, which the white colour may best do, because it is most simple.

Why are all the senses in the head?
Because, as Albertus saith, the brain is there, on which all the senses do depend and are directed by it; and by consequence it maketh all the spirits to feel, and by it all the membranes are governed.

Why cannot a man escape death if the brain or heart be hurt?
Because the brain and heart are two of the most principal parts which concern life, and therefore if they be hurt there is no remedy left for cure.

Why is the brain moist?
Because it may easily receive an impression, which moisture can best do, as it appeareth in wax, which doth easily receive the print of the seal when it is soft.

Why is the brain cold?
This is answered two ways: first, because that by this coldness it may clear the understanding of a man, and make it subtile. Secondly, that, by the coldness of the brain the heat of the heart may be tempered; and this is Aristotle's intent. Lib. de animal.


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