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Meteorology By Aristotle

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Author Topic: Meteorology By Aristotle  (Read 1164 times)
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« Reply #105 on: August 31, 2009, 12:12:10 am »

A thing is viscous when, being moist or soft, it is tractile. Bodies
owe this property to the interlocking of their parts when they are
composed like chains, for then they can be drawn out to a great length
and contracted again. Bodies that are not like this are friable. Bodies
are compressible when they are squeezable and retain the shape they
have been squeezed into; incompressible when they are either inapt
to be squeezed at all or do not retain the shape they have been squeezed

Some bodies are combustible and some are not. Wood, wool, bone are
combustible; stone, ice are not. Bodies are combustible when their
pores are such as to admit fire and their longitudinal pores contain
moisture weaker than fire. If they have no moisture, or if, as in
ice or very green wood, the moisture is stronger than fire, they are
not combustible.

Those bodies give off fumes which contain moisture, but in such a
form that it does not go off separately in vapour when they are exposed
to fire. For vapour is a moist secretion tending to the nature of
air produced from a liquid by the agency of burning heat. Bodies that
give off fumes give off secretions of the nature of air by the lapse
of time: as they perish away they dry up or become earth. But the
kind of secretion we are concerned with now differs from others in
that it is not moist nor does it become wind (which is a continuous
flow of air in a given direction). Fumes are common secretion of dry
and moist together caused by the agency of burning heat. Hence they
do not moisten things but rather colour them.

The fumes of a woody body are called smoke. (I mean to include bones
and hair and everything of this kind in the same class. For there
is no name common to all the objects that I mean, but, for all that,
these things are all in the same class by analogy. Compare what Empedocles
says: They are one and the same, hair and leaves and the thick wings
of birds and scales that grow on stout limbs.) The fumes of fat are
a sooty smoke and those of oily substances a greasy steam. Oil does
not boil away or thicken by evaporation because it does not give off
vapour but fumes. Water on the other hand does not give off fumes,
but vapour. Sweet wine does give off fumes, for it contains fat and
behaves like oil. It does not solidify under the influence of cold
and it is apt to burn. Really it is not wine at all in spite of its
name: for it does not taste like wine and consequently does not inebriate
as ordinary wine does. It contains but little fumigable stuff and
consequently is inflammable.
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« Reply #106 on: August 31, 2009, 12:12:27 am »

All bodies are combustible that dissolve into ashes, and all bodies
do this that solidify under the influence either of heat or of both
heat and cold; for we find that all these bodies are mastered by fire.
Of stones the precious stone called carbuncle is least amenable to

Of combustible bodies some are inflammable and some are not, and some
of the former are reduced to coals. Those are called 'inflammable'
which produce flame and those which do not are called 'non-inflammable'.
Those fumigable bodies that are not liquid are inflammable, but pitch,
oil, wax are inflammable in conjunction with other bodies rather than
by themselves. Most inflammable are those bodies that give off smoke.
Of bodies of this kind those that contain more earth than smoke are
apt to be reduced to coals. Some bodies that can be melted are not
inflammable, e.g. copper; and some bodies that cannot be melted are
inflammable, e.g. wood; and some bodies can be melted and are also
inflammable, e.g. frankincense. The reason is that wood has its moisture
all together and this is continuous throughout and so it burns up:
whereas copper has it in each part but not continuous, and insufficient
in quantity to give rise to flame. In frankincense it is disposed
in both of these ways. Fumigable bodies are inflammable when earth
predominates in them and they are consequently such as to be unable
to melt. These are inflammable because they are dry like fire. When
this dry comes to be hot there is fire. This is why flame is burning
smoke or dry exhalation. The fumes of wood are smoke, those of wax
and frankincense and such-like, and pitch and whatever contains pitch
or such-like are sooty smoke, while the fumes of oil and oily substances
are a greasy steam; so are those of all substances which are not at
all combustible by themselves because there is too little of the dry
in them (the dry being the means by which the transition to fire is
effected), but burn very readily in conjunction with something else.
(For the fat is just the conjunction of the oily with the dry.) So
those bodies that give off fumes, like oil and pitch, belong rather
to the moist, but those that burn to the dry.
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« Reply #107 on: August 31, 2009, 12:12:42 am »

Part 10

Homogeneous bodies differ to touch-by these affections and differences,
as we have said. They also differ in respect of their smell, taste,
and colour.

By homogeneous bodies I mean, for instance, 'metals', gold, copper,
silver, tin, iron, stone, and everything else of this kind and the
bodies that are extracted from them; also the substances found in
animals and plants, for instance, flesh, bones, sinew, skin, viscera,
hair, fibres, veins (these are the elements of which the non-homogeneous
bodies like the face, a hand, a foot, and everything of that kind
are made up), and in plants, wood, bark, leaves, roots, and the rest
like them.

The homogeneous bodies, it is true, are constituted by a different
cause, but the matter of which they are composed is the dry and the
moist, that is, water and earth (for these bodies exhibit those qualities
most clearly). The agents are the hot and the cold, for they constitute
and make concrete the homogeneous bodies out of earth and water as
matter. Let us consider, then, which of the homogeneous bodies are
made of earth and which of water, and which of both.

Of organized bodies some are liquid, some soft, some hard. The soft
and the hard are constituted by a process of solidification, as we
have already explained.

Those liquids that go off in vapour are made of water, those that
do not are either of the nature of earth, or a mixture either of earth
and water, like milk, or of earth and air, like wood, or of water
and air, like oil. Those liquids which are thickened by heat are a
mixture. (Wine is a liquid which raises a difficulty: for it is both
liable to evaporation and it also thickens; for instance new wine
does. The reason is that the word 'wine' is ambiguous and different
'wines' behave in different ways. New wine is more earthy than old,
and for this reason it is more apt to be thickened by heat and less
apt to be congealed by cold. For it contains much heat and a great
proportion of earth, as in Arcadia, where it is so dried up in its
skins by the smoke that you scrape it to drink. If all wine has some
sediment in it then it will belong to earth or to water according
to the quantity of the sediment it possesses.) The liquids that are
thickened by cold are of the nature of earth; those that are thickened
either by heat or by cold consist of more than one element, like oil
and honey, and 'sweet wine'.
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« Reply #108 on: August 31, 2009, 12:13:02 am »

Of solid bodies those that have been solidified by cold are of water,
e.g. ice, snow, hail, hoar-frost. Those solidified by heat are of
earth, e.g. pottery, cheese, natron, salt. Some bodies are solidified
by both heat and cold. Of this kind are those solidified by refrigeration,
that is by the privation both of heat and of the moisture which departs
with the heat. For salt and the bodies that are purely of earth solidify
by the privation of moisture only, ice by that of heat only, these
bodies by that of both. So both the active qualities and both kinds
of matter were involved in the process. Of these bodies those from
which all the moisture has gone are all of them of earth, like pottery
or amber. (For amber, also, and the bodies called 'tears' are formed
by refrigeration, like myrrh, frankincense, gum. Amber, too, appears
to belong to this class of things: the animals enclosed in it show
that it is formed by solidification. The heat is driven out of it
by the cold of the river and causes the moisture to evaporate with
it, as in the case of honey when it has been heated and is immersed
in water.) Some of these bodies cannot be melted or softened; for
instance, amber and certain stones, e.g. the stalactites in caves.
(For these stalactites, too, are formed in the same way: the agent
is not fire, but cold which drives out the heat, which, as it leaves
the body, draws out the moisture with it: in the other class of bodies
the agent is external fire.) In those from which the moisture has
not wholly gone earth still preponderates, but they admit of softening
by heat, e.g. iron and horn.

Now since we must include among 'meltables' those bodies which are
melted by fire, these contain some water: indeed some of them, like
wax, are common to earth and water alike. But those that are melted
by water are of earth. Those that are not melted either by fire or
water are of earth, or of earth and water.

Since, then, all bodies are either liquid or solid, and since the
things that display the affections we have enumerated belong to these
two classes and there is nothing intermediate, it follows that we
have given a complete account of the criteria for distinguishing whether
a body consists of earth or of water or of more elements than one,
and whether fire was the agent in its formation, or cold, or both.
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« Reply #109 on: August 31, 2009, 12:13:17 am »

Gold, then, and silver and copper and tin and lead and glass and many
nameless stone are of water: for they are all melted by heat. Of water,
too, are some wines and urine and vinegar and lye and whey and serum:
for they are all congealed by cold. In iron, horn, nails, bones, sinews,
wood, hair, leaves, bark, earth preponderates. So, too, in amber,
myrrh, frankincense, and all the substances called 'tears', and stalactites,
and fruits, such as leguminous plants and corn. For things of this
kind are, to a greater or less degree, of earth. For of all these
bodies some admit of softening by heat, the rest give off fumes and
are formed by refrigeration. So again in natron, salt, and those kinds
of stones that are not formed by refrigeration and cannot be melted.
Blood, on the other hand, and semen, are made up of earth and water
and air. If the blood contains fibres, earth preponderates in it:
consequently its solidifies by refrigeration and is melted by liquids;
if not, it is of water and therefore does not solidify. Semen solidifies
by refrigeration, its moisture leaving it together with its heat.

Part 11

We must investigate in the light of the results we have arrived at
what solid or liquid bodies are hot and what cold.

Bodies consisting of water are commonly cold, unless (like lye, urine,
wine) they contain foreign heat. Bodies consisting of earth, on the
other hand, are commonly hot because heat was active in forming them:
for instance lime and ashes.

We must recognize that cold is in a sense the matter of bodies. For
the dry and the moist are matter (being passive) and earth and water
are the elements that primarily embody them, and they are characterized
by cold. Consequently cold must predominate in every body that consists
of one or other of the elements simply, unless such a body contains
foreign heat as water does when it boils or when it has been strained
through ashes. This latter, too, has acquired heat from the ashes,
for everything that has been burnt contains more or less heat. This
explains the generation of animals in putrefying bodies: the putrefying
body contains the heat which destroyed its proper heat.

Bodies made up of earth and water are hot, for most of them derive
their existence from concoction and heat, though some, like the waste
products of the body, are products of putrefaction. Thus blood, semen,
marrow, figjuice, and all things of the kinds are hot as long as they
are in their natural state, but when they perish and fall away from
that state they are so no longer. For what is left of them is their
matter and that is earth and water. Hence both views are held about
them, some people maintaining them to be cold and others to be warm;
for they are observed to be hot when they are in their natural state,
but to solidify when they have fallen away from it. That, then, is
the case of mixed bodies. However, the distinction we laid down holds
good: if its matter is predominantly water a body is cold (water being
the complete opposite of fire), but if earth or air it tends to be

It sometimes happens that the coldest bodies can be raised to the
highest temperature by foreign heat; for the most solid and the hardest
bodies are coldest when deprived of heat and most burning after exposure
to fire: thus water is more burning than smoke and stone than water.

Part 12

Having explained all this we must describe the nature of flesh, bone,
and the other homogeneous bodies severally.
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« Reply #110 on: August 31, 2009, 12:13:53 am »

Our account of the formation of the homogeneous bodies has given us
the elements out of which they are compounded and the classes into
which they fall, and has made it clear to which class each of those
bodies belongs. The homogeneous bodies are made up of the elements,
and all the works of nature in turn of the homogeneous bodies as matter.
All the homogeneous bodies consist of the elements described, as matter,
but their essential nature is determined by their definition. This
fact is always clearer in the case of the later products of those,
in fact, that are instruments, as it were, and have an end: it is
clearer, for instance, that a dead man is a man only in name. And
so the hand of a dead man, too, will in the same way be a hand in
name only, just as stone flutes might still be called flutes: for
these members, too, are instruments of a kind. But in the case of
flesh and bone the fact is not so clear to see, and in that of fire
and water even less. For the end is least obvious there where matter
predominates most. If you take the extremes, matter is pure matter
and the essence is pure definition; but the bodies intermediate between
the two are matter or definition in proportion as they are near to
either. For each of those elements has an end and is not water or
fire in any and every condition of itself, just as flesh is not flesh
nor viscera viscera, and the same is true in a higher degree with
face and hand. What a thing is always determined by its function:
a thing really is itself when it can perform its function; an eye,
for instance, when it can see. When a thing cannot do so it is that
thing only in name, like a dead eye or one made of stone, just as
a wooden saw is no more a saw than one in a picture. The same, then,
is true of flesh, except that its function is less clear than that
of the tongue. So, too, with fire; but its function is perhaps even
harder to specify by physical inquiry than that of flesh. The parts
of plants, and inanimate bodies like copper and silver, are in the
same case. They all are what they are in virtue of a certain power
of action or passion-just like flesh and sinew. But we cannot state
their form accurately, and so it is not easy to tell when they are
really there and when they are not unless the body is thoroughly corrupted
and its shape only remains. So ancient corpses suddenly become ashes
in the grave and very old fruit preserves its shape only but not its
taste: so, too, with the solids that form from milk.

Now heat and cold and the motions they set up as the bodies are solidified
by the hot and the cold are sufficient to form all such parts as are
the homogeneous bodies, flesh, bone, hair, sinew, and the rest. For
they are all of them differentiated by the various qualities enumerated
above, tension, tractility, comminuibility, hardness, softness, and
the rest of them: all of which are derived from the hot and the cold
and the mixture of their motions. But no one would go as far as to
consider them sufficient in the case of the non-homogeneous parts
(like the head, the hand, or the foot) which these homogeneous parts
go to make up. Cold and heat and their motion would be admitted to
account for the formation of copper or silver, but not for that of
a saw, a bowl, or a box. So here, save that in the examples given
the cause is art, but in the nonhomogeneous bodies nature or some
other cause.

Since, then, we know to what element each of the homogeneous bodies
belongs, we must now find the definition of each of them, the answer,
that is, to the question, 'what is' flesh, semen, and the rest? For
we know the cause of a thing and its definition when we know the material
or the formal or, better, both the material and the formal conditions
of its generation and destruction, and the efficient cause of it.

After the homogeneous bodies have been explained we must consider
the non-homogeneous too, and lastly the bodies made up of these, such
as man, plants, and the rest.



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Translation of "The Deeds of the Divine Augustus" by Augustus is
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