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Sacred Sneezes in Aristotle, Historia animalium I 11 and [Aristotle], Problemata physica XXXIII 7 & 9

Robert Mayhew


The aim of this essay is to shed light on three related Peripatetic texts that have received little scholarly attention: a passage in Aristotle’s Historia animalium I 11, on the nose, which mentions in passing that «sneezing […] is alone of breaths (πνευμάτων) a sign prophetic and sacred»; and, two chapters in pseudo-Aristotle, Problemata physica XXXIII, which ask and attempt to answer the question: why is sneezing (thought to be) sacred? An important issue distinguishing the latter from the former is the view that the head is the seat of reason.


Aristotle; Historia animalium; omen; Problemata physica; religion; sacred; sneezing; Strato – Aristotele; Historia animalium; presagio; Problemata physica; religione; sacro; starnuto; Stratone.

Full Text:



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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7358/erga-2023-001-mayr

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