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[p. 135] And what is the semen? Clearly the active principle of the animal, the material principle being the menstrual blood.
Aristotelian and Stoic duality of an active and a passive principle.
Next, seeing that the active principle employs this faculty primarily, therefore, in order that any one of the things fashioned by it may come into existence, it [the principle] must necessarily be possessed of its own faculty. How, then, was Erasistratus unaware of it, if the
primary function of the semen be to draw to itself a due proportion of blood? Now, this fluid would be in due proportion if it were so thin and vaporous, that, as soon as it was drawn like dew into every part of the semen, it would everywhere cease to display its own particular character; for so the semen will easily dominate and quickly assimilate it- in fact, will use it as food. It will then, I imagine, draw to itself a second and a third quantum, and thus by feeding it acquires for itself considerable bulk and quantity.
Note that early embryonic development is described as a process of nutrition. cf. p. 130, note 2.
In fact, the alterative faculty has now been discovered as well, although about this also has not written a word. And, thirdly the shaping
On the alterative and shaping of faculties cf. p. 18, note 1.
faculty will become evident, by virtue of which the semen firstly surrounds itself with a thin membrane like a kind of superficial condensation; this is what was described by Hippocrates in the sixth-day birth, which, according to his statement, fell from the singing-girl and resembled the pellicle of an egg. And following this all the other stages will occur, such as are described by him in his work "On the Child's
But if each of the parts formed were to remain as small as when it first came into existence, of what use would that be? They have, then, to grow.