Home Philosophy The fathers of the church
Why a large forehead indicates a slow person, prone to foolishness, and a small one indicates a good disposition.
Why eyebrows that are straight indicate femininity and pliability whereas ones arched toward the nose indicate discretion and intellect.
Why those arched toward the temples indicate weakness and a bad disposition.
Why a lot of hair hanging to the ground indicates envy and wantonness.
Next one asks why a large forehead indicates a slow person, inclined to foolishness, and a small one indicates a good disposition.
Second, one asks why eyebrows that are straight indicate femininity and pliability whereas ones arched toward the nose indicate discretion and intellect.
And why those arched toward the temples indicate weakness [mollities] and a bad disposition.
And why a lot of hair hanging to the ground indicates envy and wantonness.
To the first, one must reply that the forehead is near to the brain, and this is why the size of the forehead is an indicator of the brain's size. Now the brain is moist and cold and phlegmat-ic, and as a result there is a heaviness there, because [the cold] thickens the spirits and greatly blocks the heat, which is the instrument of agility. And this is why a large forehead indicates slowness.
Again, if it is broad it is an indication that the sensitive powers flowing from the brain through the forehead are greatly dispersed and as a result this is a sign of weakness, because a power is not strengthened by unification in anything very broad. And this is why a broad forehead is a sign of foolishness.
Nevertheless, one can distinguish that size or breadth can arise from either a natural or an unnatural cause. If it arises from an unnatural cause, then it is not a sign of slowness or foolishness. Such a thing may occur in children because of the nurse's inept swaddling, because by being bound incorrectly, the forehead becomes incorrectly shaped. If it should arise from a natural cause, either it arises from the strength of an active power, and then it is a sign of a good disposition, and this occurs when the neck and other members near it are proportioned to the forehead. If, however, it arises from a large quantity of matter and from the weakness of the active power, then it is a sign of a bad disposition, for example, when the head is thick and the neck is thin. And so too for the others.
To the second question one must say that each thing is distinguished by its end. Thus if some animal is deficient with respect to its end, it is a sign of an error in its principles. But eyebrows exist to safeguard and to adorn the eyes, and so that a superfluity may be emitted hiddenly through the pores and eyebrows and converted into hairs. For otherwise the superfluity would fall into the eyes. This is why eyebrows have to be shaped naturally, according to the shape of the eyes, because eyebrows ought naturally to curve in at that very place where the visual rays are especially directed. And this is why if they are well curved in toward the cone of the nose, they indicate a good disposition with respect to discretion, intellect, and good vision. If, however, they curve toward the temples, they indicate a weakness and bad disposition, because then they already depart from their end. And if they are linear, lying in a straight line, they are a sign of moisture, because the moist easily receives every impression, and as a result they are an indication of femininity and pliability. But if they droop and are very hairy, since hair is especially generated from an earthy matter which is hard and dry, then they are signs of melancholy, and melancholy is a cause of envy, because melancholics are envious and disparagers.
This physiognomy ought to be applied to irrational animals, because brute beasts follow nature, and where these sorts of dispositions are naturally found in beasts, then the effect on their characters [ mores] will be of this sort. For the bear, which has drooping eyebrows, is envious and subject to anger. And so too for the others, like the pig, which has hairy eyebrows and is wanton.
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