Tools

Aristotle

465 b ἂν εἴη. ἢ οὔ, ἀλλ᾿ ὑπὸ τοῦ περιέχοντος φθείρεται.

Εἰ μὲν οὖν,1 ἱκανὸν ἐκ τῶν εἰρημένων· εἰ δὲ μή, ὑποθέσθαι δεῖ ὅτι ἔνεστί τι ἐνεργείᾳ ἐναντίον, καὶ περίττωμα γίνεται. διὸ ἡ ἐλάττων φλὸξ κατακάεται ὑπὸ τῆς πολλῆς κατὰ συμβεβηκός, ὅτι ἣν τροφὴν2 25ἐκείνη ἐν πολλῷ χρόνῳ ἀναλίσκει τὸν καπνόν, ταύτην ἡ πολλὴ φλὸξ ταχύ. διὸ πάντα ἀεὶ ἐν κινήσει ἐστί, καὶ γίνεται ἢ φθείρεται. τὸ δὲ περιέχον ἢ συμπράττει ἢ ἀντιπράττει. καὶ διὰ τοῦτο μετατιθέμενα πολυχρονιώτερα μὲν γίνεται καὶ ὀλιγοχρονιώτερα τῆς φύσεως, ἀΐδια δ᾿ οὐδαμοῦ, 30ὅσοις ἐναντία ἐστίν· εὐθὺς γὰρ ἡ ὕλη τὸ ἐναντίον ἔχει. ὥστ᾿ εἰ μὲν τοῦ ποῦ, κατὰ τόπον μεταβάλλει, εἰ δὲ τοῦ ποσοῦ, κατ᾿ αὔξησιν καὶ φθίσιν· εἰ δὲ πάθους, ἀλλοιοῦται.

466 aIV. Ἔστι δ᾿ οὔτε τὰ μέγιστα ἀφθαρτότερα (ἵππος γὰρ ἀνθρώπου βραχυβιώτερον) οὔτε τὰ μικρά (ἐπέτεια γὰρ τὰ πολλὰ τῶν ἐντόμων) οὔτε τὰ φυτὰ ὅλως τῶν ζῴων (ἐπέτεια γὰρ ἔνια τῶν 5φυτῶν) οὔτε τὰ ἔναιμα (μέλιττα γὰρ πολυχρονιώτερον ἐνίων ἐναίμων) οὔτε τὰ ἄναιμα (τὰ γὰρ μαλάκια ἐπέτεια μέν, ἄναιμα δέ) οὔτε τὰ ἐν τῇ γῇ (καὶ γὰρ φυτὰ ἐπέτειά ἐστι καὶ ζῷα πεζά) οὔτε τὰ ἐν τῇ θαλάττῃ (καὶ γὰρ ἐκεῖ βραχύβια καὶ τὰ ὀστρακηρὰ καὶ τὰ μαλάκια). ὅλως δὲ τὰ μακροβιώτατα 10ἐν τοῖς φυτοῖς ἐστίν, οἷον ὁ φοῖνιξ· εἶτ᾿

400

On Length and Shortness of Life

case too it would be indestructible. Surely not; it is destroyed by its environment.

If this is so, it has been sufficiently established byNothing can last for ever. what we have said; if it is not so, one must assume that some actual contrary is present,a and that refuse is produced. So the lesser flame is consumed by the greater accidentally, because the nourishment—namely the smoke—which the lesser flame exhausts after a long time, is exhausted rapidly by the greater. So everything is in a state of movement, and is being either generated or destroyed. The environment either works with it or against it. For this reason things which change their locality may become longer or shorter lived than their own nature allows, but in no case can they be everlasting, if they have contraries; for their matter directly entails contrariety. So that if the contrariety is of place, the change is one of locality; if of quantity, the change takes place by growth and decay; if of affection, a change of state results.

IV. Very large creatures are not less liable to destructionHow far is longevity dependent on size? (for a horse does not live as long as a man), nor are small ones (for most of the insects only live a year), nor are plants generally less liable than animals (for some plants are annuals), nor are sanguineous animals less liable (for the bee lives longer than some sanguineous animals), nor the bloodless (for the molluscs, which are bloodless, only live for a year), nor terrestrial creatures (for there are terrestrial plants and animals which only live for a year), nor marine creatures (for in the sea the testacea and molluscs are both short-lived). Generally speaking, the longest lived are to be found among plants, e.g., the date-palm; secondly, longevity is commoner

401
DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.aristotle-parva_naturalia_length_shortness_life.1957