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[4arg] Why the bowels are loosened by sudden terror; also why fire provokes urine.


THERE is a work of Aristotle, entitled Physical Questions, which is most delightful, and filled with choice knowledge of all kinds. In this book he inquires 1 why it happens that those who are seized with sudden fear of some great catastrophe commonly suffer at once from looseness of the bowels. He also inquires why it happens that one who has stood for some time before a fire is overtaken with a desire to make water. And he says that the cause of the loosening and discharge of the bowels because of fear is due to the fact that all terror is cold producing, or ψυχροποιός, as he calls it, and that by the effect of that cold it drives and expels all the blood and heat from the surface of the skin and at the same time causes those who fear to grow pale, because the blood leaves the face. “Now this blood and heat,” he says, “being driven inwards, usually moves the bowels and stimulates them.” For the frequent urinating caused by nearness to a fire he gave this reason: “The fire dissolves the solid matter, as the sun does snow.”

1 xxvii. 10; vii. 3.

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