Aristotle, Physiognomics

LCL 307: 86-87

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805 a φυσιογνωμονοῦσι, τιθέμενοι καθ᾿ ἕκαστον γένος εἶδός τι ζῴου καὶ διάνοιαν. οἱ δ᾿ ἐπὶ τούτοις σῶμά τι, εἶτα τὸν ὅμοιον τῷ σώματι σῶμα ἔχοντα καὶ τὴν ψυχὴν ὁμοίαν ὑπελάμβανον. ἄλλοι δέ τινες 25τοῦτο μὲν ἐποίουν, οὐκ ἐξ ἁπάντων δὲ τῶν ζῴων ἐδοκίμαζον, ἀλλ᾿ ἐξ αὐτοῦ τοῦ τῶν ἀνθρώπων γένους, διελόμενοι κατὰ τὰ ἔθνη, ὅσα διέφερε τὰς ὄψεις καὶ τὰ ἤθη, οἷον Αἰγύπτιοι καὶ Θρᾷκες καὶ Σκύθαι, ὁμοίως τὴν ἐκλογὴν τῶν σημείων ἐποιοῦντο. οἱ δέ τινες ἐκ τῶν ἠθῶν τῶν ἐπιφαινομένων, οἵᾳ διαθέσει 30ἕπεται ἕκαστον ἦθος, τῷ ὀργιζομένῳ, τῷ φοβουμένῳ, τῷ ἀφροδισιάζοντι, καὶ τῶν ἄλλων δὴ παθημάτων ἑκάστῳ. ἔστι δὲ κατὰ πάντας τούτους τοὺς τρόπους φυσιογνωμονεῖν, καὶ ἔτι κατ᾿ ἄλλους, καὶ τὴν ἐκλογὴν τῶν σημείων ἀνομοίως ποιεῖσθαι.

805 bΟἱ μὲν οὖν κατὰ τὰ ἤθη μόνον φυσιογνωμονοῦντες ἁμαρτάνουσιν, πρῶτον μὲν ὅτι ἔνιοι οὐχ οἱ αὐτοὶ ὄντες τὰ ἐπὶ τῶν προσώπων ἤθη τὰ αὐτὰ ἔχουσιν, οἷον ὅ τε ἀνδρεῖος καὶ ὁ ἀναιδὴς τὰ αὐτὰ ἔχουσι, τὰς διανοίας πολὺ κεχωρισμένοι, δεύτερον 5δὲ ὅτι κατὰ χρόνους τινὰς τὰ ἤθη οὐ τὰ αὐτὰ ἀλλ᾿ ἑτέρων ἔχουσιν· δυσανίοις τε γὰρ οὖσιν ἐνίοτε συνέβη τὴν ἡμέραν ἡδέως διαγαγεῖν καὶ τὸ ἦθος λαβεῖν τὸ τοῦ εὐθύμου, καὶ τοὐναντίον εὔθυμον λυπηθῆναι, ὥστε τὸ ἦθος τὸ ἐπὶ τοῦ προσώπου μεταβαλεῖν. ἔτι πρὸς τούτοις περὶ ὀλίγων ἄν τις 10τοῖς ἐπιφαινομένοις τεκμαίροιτο. οἱ δ᾿ ἐκ τῶν θηρίων φυσιογνωμονοῦντες οὐκ ὀρθῶς τὴν ἐκλογὴν τῶν σημείων ποιοῦνται. οὐ γὰρ δὴ ἑκάστου τῶν



for each genus one form and disposition for the animal. On these grounds they have supposed one type of body for the animal and then have concluded that the man who has a body similar to this will have a similar soul. A second class have pursued the same method, but have not based their conclusions entirely on animals, but upon the genus man itself, dividing him into races, in so far as they differ in appearance and in character (for instance Egyptians, Thracians and Scythians), and have made a corresponding selection of characteristics. A third class have made a collection of superficial characteristics, and the dispositions which follow each—the passionate man, the fearful, the sexual and each of the other affections. It is possible to make a science of physiognomies according to each of these methods, and also by others and to make a selection of characteristics in different ways.

Those who proceed in their science entirely by Errors in method. characteristics are wrong; first of all, because some men, who are in no sense alike, have the same facial expressions (for instance the brave and the shameless man have the same expressions), but are widely different in disposition; secondly, because at certain times they do not have the same expressions but different ones; for the low-spirited sometimes spend a happy day and assume the facial expression of the high-spirited, and conversely the high-spirited may be suffering grief, so that the expression in the face changes. In addition to this one could only draw evidence from superficial characteristics in very few cases. But those who base this science of physiognomies on wild beasts do not make their selection of signs correctly. For it is impossible

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.aristotle-physiognomics.1936