The Works of Aristotle - Of the Mouth.

Of the Mouth.

WHY hath the mouth lips to compass it?
According to Constant, because the lips do cover and defend the teeth; it were unseemly that the teeth should always be seen. Another answer is, that the teeth are of a cold nature, and would therefore be soon hurt if they were not covered with lips. An other moral reason is, because a man should not be too hasty of speech.

Why hath a man two eyes, two ears, and but one mouth?
Because a man should speak but little, and hear and see much. And withal, Aristotle doth say, that the hearing in the light doth show us many things; and Seneca doth agree unto this, affirming that nature environed the tongue with a double cloister, and teeth, and lips, and has made the ears open and wide, and has given us but one mouth to speak but little, though we hear much.

Why hath a man a mouth?
For many commodities: 1. Because the mouth is the gate and door of the stomach. 2. Because the meat is chewed in the mouth, and prepared and made ready for the first digestion, although Avicen doth hold that digestion is made in the mouth. 3. Because that the air drawn unto the hollow of the mouth for the refreshing of the heart is made more pure and subtile. And for many other causes, which shall hereafter appear.

Why are the lips moveable?
Because of forming the voice and words, which cannot be perfectly done without these. For as without a, b, c, there is no writing, so without the lips no voice can be well formed.

Why do men gape?
This gloss upon the last part of Hippocrates' Aphorisms saith, that it proceeds of wearisomeness, as when a man sitteth among such as he doth not know, whose company he would willingly be rid of. Besides, gaping is caused of the thick fumes and vapours that fill the jaws, by the expulsion of which is caused the stretching out and expansion of the jaws, and opening of the mouth, which is called gaping.

Why doth a man gape when be seeth another man gape?
This proceedeth of imagination. And this is proved by a similitude: for an ass is animal valde sensible, by reason of his melancholy, because he doth retain his superfluity a long time, and would neither eat nor piss, unless he should hear another piss; and a man gapes through imagination when another man gapes.


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