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 33 On the Bones of the Foot

The similarity of quadrupeds to humans in their legs and feet

In the same way dogs, weasels, cats, rabbits, hares, and to a still greater degree apes and bears, 27 and all quadrupeds whose feet are split into digits, have the same kind of joint between femur and hip [articulatio coxae] and between femur and tibia 28 as humans, so, assuredly, the same structure is seen in the bones of their hind feet and man’s foot. For if you concede that the construction of the big toe is different in those animals than in man, and more or less resembles the thumb of our hand, and that their foot has sometimes more or fewer digits, and ours is shorter, 29 you will still see that the human foot 30 has no bone at all for which you will not find a very close counterpart, in situation, shape, 31 articulation, and system of motion, in dogs and animals of that kind. I call the hind foot the entire part of the limbs which we see rest on the ground when a dog or a bear raises its front legs off the ground and stands erect without leaning on a staff or any other support. I do not mean only the part that touches the ground when they stand on four feet, for that is only the digits of the feet. Likewise when we too try to move as if on four feet, we touch the ground only with fingers and toes and raise our wrist and heel from the ground like bears and dogs. 32 So it is, indeed, that in the animals just mentioned the foot begins where Aristotle imagined 33 the joint in all quadrupeds analogous with our knee. From this it is clear how much this paradox of mine about the bones of quadrupeds confounds the doctrines of Aristotle and (so far as I know) all philosophers, and of Galen, easily the prince among anatomists, about the common gait of animals in the flexion and extension of limbs, the action of sitting, the position of the femora relative to the spine or dorsum, and the erection of the body. 34 I have begun my account of the bones of the foot with this similarity of man to those animals, lest here at the beginning someone ask me things which Galen discusses in so many pages of the third book On the Use of the Parts, when he describes the foot of man as longer than that of quadrupeds, and then says that it is wide and soft. 35 So profusely does he distinguish man from the other animals in the composition of the bones, and so much trouble does he take to reason why man stands erect and sits, being more occupied in making fun of Euripides 36 than in looking at bones. Though the same features are present in man as in bears and other animals of that ilk, Galen teaches that in the construction of the foot Nature bestowed some things on man as a biped and some on him as animal endowed with reason. 37 I believe that hereafter students of Aristotle and Galen 38 will compare the bones of humans, quadrupeds, and even birds, and will investigate how we move when supported on four legs, as it were, in what manner a cat or dog 39 sits, or is supported when erect against a wall, and how they correspond or differ in each distinct feature, so that students of natural science may more correctly consider the opinions of such great men that have been studied so far and wide, and at last be admonished and recognize how manifestly the similarity of such bones refutes them, and how the anatomical doctrines of Aristotle and Galen — and even less of Plato — were not spoken by the oracle. It would take too long here to recount everybody’s opinions about the ankles and the motions of the legs, and to throw in my own view regarding each, especially when I have not yet described the bones of the foot, which I shall begin, as is fitting, from the anklebone [talus] (which the Greeks call a)stra/galoj and a)/strion). 40



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 33 On the Bones of the Foot