Book One -- The things that sustain and support the entire body, and what braces and attaches them all. [the bones and the ligaments that interconnect them]

Chapter 36 On the Cartilage of the Ear

[On the Mechanical Engineering Aspects of the Ear]
Since the cartilage of the ear [cartilago auricularis], when completely free of the skin that covers it, expresses the shape of the ear itself with its lobe [lobulus auricularis] 1 removed, it would be beside the point here to draw an ear, which is known to everybody.
What the chief purpose of the ear is in taking in the convolutions and spirals of the air, and what names the parts of the ear are given, must be pursued in the account of the construction of the organ of hearing in the seventh book. Here the cartilage of the ear comes momentarily under consideration. It resembles the shape of the ear and is formed so that when clothed in skin it will make the body of the ear like a fan and likewise suitably hold it up and keep it erect. This cartilage [c. elastica] is soft and thin, becoming softer as it goes from the bone of the head [os temporale] toward the end of the ear and approaches its rounded part [helix], having less need to support anything. In the same way, no part of this cartilage is extended in the lobe of the ear, as there is no need for this suspended part to be held erect or supported. Near the temporal bone this cartilage feels harder and, so as to adhere with a firmer root, thicker. It originates from the small circle of the foramen [meatus acusticus externus] (a in fig. 2, ch. 12) of the auditory meatus carved in the temporal bone, whose circumference is roughened so as to put forth the cartilage more readily. For what reason Nature made the ear from such cartilage and did not implant in it a harder, osseous cartilage or actual bone, I explained in the second Chapter of the present book when I stated that Nature fashioned the blend of the cartilage with such foresight that it would provide expedient support, like bone, and at the same time be so soft that it would not be broken by the impact of things striking it but by gently yielding would relieve the ear, and in this way make the outermost parts more resistant to injuries than if they had been bony.


Book One -- The things that sustain and support the entire body, and what braces and attaches them all. [the bones and the ligaments that interconnect them]