Mulus, ut dicit Liber rerum, animal est viribus in labore eximium, ex adulterine commixtione seminum asini et qui. Hec propria habet: asini aures longas, hinnitum horridum, crucem on humeris, pedes exiguous et corpus malicentum; reliqua vero habet ut equus. Muli et burdones et huiusmodi animalia, que ex diversis animalibus generantur, propriam speciem non habent. Unde si relinquantur, sibi deificiunt. Vere autem species sunt et non alie, que, si relinquantur nature perpetue sunt. Mule nunquam concipere possunt. Unde fit, ut nequaquam eorum natura ex seminis posteritate proprietatem generationis accipiat. Semper enim oportet, possunt mule concipere: menstrui superfluitas transit cum cibo in mulabus in nutrumentum corporum earum. Ipse vero sanguis, quo non indiget natura, exit cum superfluitate vesice. Alia vero ratio est, quare concipere non possunt mule, quoniam animal contra naturam generatum est et eius natura diversificata est in equo, qui calide nature est, et in asina, que summe frigiditatis est. Non ergo posttest esse in fetu diversifice generato et male complexionao concordantia partium et ordinata natura, ut quasi e propria substantia sui sibi simile generet, qui nullam propriam sui generis substantiam habere dinoscitur, licet ex propriis substantiis equi et asini sit nature amminiculo generates. Mulus quanto plus bibit quando pullus est, tanto maior fit et fortiori. Plinius dicit, ex duobus diversis generibus nata tertii generis fieri et neutri parentum esse similia, eaque nata non gignere in Omni genere animalium certum est. In annalibus Romanorum est: peperisse sepe mulas; sed prodigii loco habitum. Ut dicit Plinius, mule calcitratus inhibetur vini crebriore potu. De asino et de equa generantur muli, et de asina et de equo burduli.
Concerning the Mule. The mule, as the Book of things says, is an animal special with strengths in respect to work, from the adulterous mixture of the seed of asses and horses, has these peculiar things: the long ears of the ass, rude neighing, a cross on the shoulders, small feet and a skinny body; it certainly has the rest as a horse does. Mules and hinnies and animals of this sort, who are fathered from different animals, have no peculiar appearance. If whence they might be abandoned, they have shortcomings for themselves. They are truly a species and not otherwise, which, if they might be abandoned, their natures continuously perpetuate. Mules are never able to conceive. Whence it happens, the nature of these ones should not at all receive the peculiarity of birth with offspring from seeds. Indeed it is always proper, that ass and horse might convene in the procreation of the mule. And this is the reason, why mules are not able to conceive: the overflowing of the menstrual discharge goes across with food in the mules into nourishment of their bodies. Truly the blood itself, which nature does not require, goes out with the overflowing of the bladder. Truly another account is how the mules are not able to conceive, because the animal was fathered against nature and its nature is varied in the horse, which is of a warm nature, and from the she-ass, which is of the highest coldness. Therefore an agreement of parts and ordained nature is not able to exist in an offspring brought forth by different things and badly tempered, just as out of their own substance it fathered similar of itself to itself, who was discerned to have none of its own substance of its own type, although out of the individual substance of the horse and the ass it might have been fathered by a support of nature. The more a mule drinks when it is a young mule, so it is made much greater and stronger. Pliny says, out of two opposite types the offspring of a third type they become and they resemble neither of the parents, and it is certain that these offspring do not give birth to any type of animal. In the annals of the Romans it is: the she-mule often has given birth; but it was considered that in place of an omen. As Pliny says, the kicking of heels of the mules is restrained by the rather frequent drink of wine. The mules are fathered by the ass and mare, and hinnies by the she-ass and the stallion.
adulterinus, -a, -um adj. adulterous, counterfeit
amminiculum, aminiculi n. prop (up), support
asina, -ae n./f. – ass
burdo, -onis n./m. hinny (offspring of a stallion and a she-ass)
calcitratus, -us m. kicking with heels
commixtio, -onis n./f. mixture, mixing, mingling
concipio, concipere, concepi, conceptus 3 conceive, produce
concordantia, -ae f. agreement
creber, crebra, crebior adj. thick, frequent, constant
crux, crucis f. cross
dinosco, dinoscere 3 discern, distinguish
exiguus, -a, -um adj. slight, small, meager
eximius, -a, -um adj. choice, select, special, exceptional
generatio, -onis n./f. generation
genero, generare, generavi, generatus 1 beget, procreate, father, produce
hinnitus, -us m.
horridus, -a, -um adj. rude, uncouth
huiusmodi adj. of this sort, this kind of
humerus, -i n./m. upper arm, shoulder
indigeo, indigere, indigui 2 need, require
macilentus, -a, -um adj. skinny
menstruum, menstrui n. menstrual discharge
nequaquam adv. by no means, not at all, in vain
nutrimentum,-i n. nourishment
posteritas, -atis n./f. the future, posterity, later generations, offspring
procreatio, -onis f. procreation
proprietas, -atis f. property, peculiarity, quality
pullus, -i m. foal, young horse
semen, seminis n. seed
superfluites, -ei n. overflowing, excess
vesica, -ae f. bladder; vagina
Liber rerum: “The Book of things” may be a reference to either Thomas’ text itself or another treatise of this name.
viribus in labore: abl. respect, “with strengths in respect to work”
eximium: pred. nom.
hec: = haec. There are multiple instances in this entry where Thomas shortens ae to e.
crucem in humeris: All mules have a colored cross on their backs, which holds considerable iconographical significance for Christians. This phrase does not refer to bone structure.
reliqua…equus: i.e., aside from these characteristics, the mule is anatomically similar to the horse.
que: = quae
si relinquantur…si relinquantur: Both verbs are potential subjunctives, with a repeated conditional.
sibi deficiunt: Refers to the infertility of the mule, rather than abandonment by parents.
alie: = aliae
que: = quae
nature perpetue: = naturae perpetuae
mule: = mulae
unde…accipiat: This is another, longer way of saying that mules cannot reproduce.
unde: “Whence” seems the most appropriate definition of the word in this context.
ex…generationis: Translated in the following order: “proprietatem generationis posteritate ex seminis”
asinus et equus: pl. nom. subj.
mule: = mulae
menstrui…earum: Advances in medical knowledge render this statement inaccurate.
vero: In its adverbial form, “in truth”
vesice: = vesicae
quoniam…generatus: As with the sentence before, this is not a true explanation as to why the mule is not able to conceive, but it is rather amusing to consider that the reason behind the mule’s sterility is the temperament of the parents, or their relations not being morally condoned.
calide nature: = calidae naturae
potest: Impersonal, with ergo: “it is possible”
sui sibi: “of itself to itself,” or “to itself of itself”
licet…sit: Adverbial “although” with the subjunctive.
pullus: While usually meaning a young hen or a chick, the medieval definition also included foals.
Plinius dixit: Refers to Pliny the Elder, a Roman naturalist.
certum est: Impersonal passive: “it is certain that”
In annalibus Romanorum: Thomas is not specific to which annals these are or who wrote them, but they included the story where female mules giving birth is regarded as an omen. May refer to the work of Pliny.
sepe: = saepe
habitum: Understand as habitum esse, an impersonal passive governing an indirect statement: “it was considered that“