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 19 On the Bones of the Thorax

Why the abdomen is not also bony 32

But perhaps someone might interject: “Why should not the abdomen also be made bony, like the thorax? For if such a bony mass formed in alternation with muscles were placed around the belly, it would not interfere with its contraction and dilation, and in addition greater security would be gained for the abdomen.” Whoever asks such a question should be taught that the contents of the belly could not always be expanded and compressed as much as sometimes happens if they were fenced with bone on the outside. If such were the case, women would not be able to conceive, nor would it be possible for a person to eat one’s fill at one time: he would need to eat continually, just as one needs to breathe continually. But it is not at all absurd that one is in constant need of breath: for one spends one’s time in the air, and lives in it. But if we had the same need of food and drink, we should conduct our life quite apart from philosophy and the Muses: forever occupied with eating, we would never pay attention to the finest and most beautiful things. 33 Again, if the bulk of a bony abdomen were as great as women require in the last months of pregnancy, what would be more awkward than such a bulk if after the fetus was expelled she continued to swell so unpleasantly? And at the same time when filled with no other thing which is useful to the human fabric, what would be more awkward than if it did not subside so as properly to embrace the stomach and intestines, and were not placed next to them like a pad or for the sake of heating 34 ? We shall pursue these matters at greater length in the fifth book, 35 and we shall show as well that in the fabric of the belly Nature’s cleverness was so great that she protected organs of the belly that do not require alternating dilation and compression, either placing them beneath other parts, or sheltering them no less than the lungs. For the liver and the spleen are walled in by the ribs, and the kidneys also lie beneath so many other organs, particularly toward the back, because none of these must be expanded, while with the remarkable foresight that we have noted, Nature wished the remaining organs of the belly to be in no way impeded from their functions by a bony structure.



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 19 On the Bones of the Thorax