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Whether the male is better nourishment than the female.

One inquires further whether the male is better nourishment than the female.

1. And it seems not. Because the cleaner the nourishment, the better it is. But the female is cleansed more than the male, through the purging of the menstrual blood. Therefore, she is better nourishment.

2. This is evident in many cases from experience [ per experimentum]. For many animals are better nourishment in their youth, because they are more moist. Since then females are moister than males, they therefore will be better nourishment.

To the contrary. That one is better nourishment that is more digested. But the female has poorer digestion; on account of the weakness of her digestion she does not produce sperm. Therefore, etc.

One must reply to this that some animals are good nourishment by virtue of their species, just as sheep or goats are hot and moist, and this is why they are good nourishment. And in ones like this the male is better nourishment than the female because he is more tempered, and especially one that is castrated.

Other animals are not suitable nourishment, but rather they are incompatible with nourishment owing to their moisture, like the pig, and some are such owing to their dryness, like a bird. Moreover, in those animals which abound with moisture, throughout their species, the males are better nourishment. Therefore, the male pig nourishes better than the female. In others, however, which abound in dryness, the opposite holds. Therefore, female birds are better nourishment than males, as is clear in the case of the hen. Therefore, the male is not simply better nourishment than the female, or vice versa, but it is different in different cases, as has been seen.

1. On to the arguments. To the first, one must reply that although the female is cleansed more by purgation, nevertheless in and of herself she is more unclean; otherwise, she would not be purged. This is why the female is always tainted in some way, etc.

2. To the second argument one must reply that some animals have a moist womb, and others have one that is dry. In animals with a dry womb, the younger the animals are, the better. Therefore, a calf is better nourishment than an ox, and a capreolus or a kid is better than a she-goat or a billy goat, and so too for the others.[1] In animals with a moist womb, the younger they are, the worse. Therefore, the flesh of a young pig is the worst as nourishment, because unless it is salted it is too moist. And for a similar reason the front portions of some animals are better [than the rear], and in other animals the rear portions are better. Therefore, those animals that have front portions that are elevated on account of a lot of movement, are better in the front, and also because superfluities run from an elevated and lofty place downward. Therefore, the front portion of a sheep or cow is better owing to its elevation than the front portion of anotherin others with an opposite condition the opposite holdsand in birds who fly the front portion is better, and I say this with respect to the hen.[2] In the former, however, when they have their hind portions elevated or when they work more with the hind portions, the hind portion is better, as in the case of the pig and in birds that are non-flyers, like the goose, because a goose walks more than it flies. And the reason for this is that the portion that is lower and the part that works less is more unclean, because superfluities are sent more to such parts, since flow is more likely toward a part that slopes downward.

  • [1] The term capreolus here is vexing. A. is clearly pairing young and old versions of the same animal, e.g., calf and ox. Thus capreolus seems parallel to capra (she-goat) as kid (haedus) does to billy goat (hircus). Yet capreolus is normally a wild goat, and not a term reserved for a juvenile.
  • [2] The clause, as printed in the text, literally reads: "the front portion of a flying bird is better in those who fly." It seems clear that the doubling is due to an intrusion of a marginal gloss or a confused manuscript tradition.
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