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Aristotle
On the Parts of Animals

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4

What are called fibres are found in the blood of some animals but not of all. There are none, for instance, in the blood of deer and of roes; and for this reason the blood of such animals as these never coagulates. For one part of the blood consists mainly of water and therefore does not coagulate, this process occurring only in the other and earthy constituent, that is to say in the fibres, while the fluid part is evaporating.

Some at any rate of the animals with watery blood have a keener intellect than those whose blood is of an earthier nature. This is due not to the coldness of their blood, but rather to its thinness and purity; neither of which qualities belongs to the earthy matter. For the thinner and purer its fluid is, the more easily affected is an animal’s sensibility. Thus it is that some bloodless animals, notwithstanding their want of blood, are yet more intelligent than some among the sanguineous kinds. Such for instance, as already said, is the case with the bee and the tribe of ants, and whatever other animals there may be of a like nature. At the same time too great an excess of water makes animals timorous. For fear chills the body; so that in animals whose heart contains so watery a mixture the way is prepared for the operation of this emotion. For water is congealed by cold. This also explains why bloodless animals are, as a general rule, more timorous than such as have blood, so that they remain motionless, when frightened, and discharge their excretions, and in some instances change colour. Such animals, on the other hand, as have thick and abundant fibres in their blood are of a more earthy nature, and of a choleric temperament, and liable to bursts of passion. For anger is productive of heat; and solids, when they have been made hot, give off more heat than fluids. The fibres therefore, being earthy and solid, are turned into so many hot embers in the blood, like the embers in a vapour-bath, and cause ebullition in the fits of passion.

This explains why bulls and boars are so choleric and so passionate. For their blood is exceedingly rich in fibres, and the bull’s at any rate coagulates more rapidly than that of any other animal. If these fibres, that is to say if the earthy constituents of which we are speaking, are taken out of the blood, the fluid that remains behind will no longer coagulate; just as the watery residue of mud will not coagulate after removal of the earth. But if the fibres are left the fluid coagulates, as also does mud, under the influence of cold. For when the heat is expelled by the cold, the fluid, as has been already stated, passes off with it by evaporation, and the residue is dried up and solidified, not by heat but by cold. So long, however, as the blood is in the body, it is kept fluid by animal heat.

The character of the blood affects both the temperament and the sensory faculties of animals in many ways. This is indeed what might reasonably be expected, seeing that the blood is the material of which the whole body is made. For nutriment supplies the material, and the blood is the ultimate nutriment. It makes then a considerable difference whether the blood be hot or cold, thin or thick, turbid or clear.

The watery part of the blood is serum; and it is watery, either owing to its not being yet concocted, or owing to its having become corrupted; so that one part of the serum is the resultant of a necessary process, while another part is material intended to serve for the formation of the blood.




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