Today I have been reading Isbrand van Diemerbroeck, The Anatomy of Human Bodies (1689). In a rather interesting discussion of the human body he suggested that the shape and form of a person’s stomach had a lot to say about their personality.
‘notable Conjectures may be made concerning the Disposition of Men from the form and bigness of this Belly. Thus Aristotle affirms that a little Belly is one of the principal Parts from when Wisdom appears in man. Among others, a flat and hollow Belly denotes a man envious and covetous. A round Belly betokens sobriety. A swag-Belly marks out a sleepy, slothful, stupid Fellow. A Navel swelling out very much, is a sign of a person given to Venery.’
Diemerbroeck was apparently not alone, Sara Read recently found that Sarah Jinner’s The womans almanack (1659) also noted a few signs related to the belly which signified the disposition of women:
‘If she have a Mole on her Belly, it denotes her a Clutton or great feeder … If on the bottom of the Belly, it argues much debility and weakness. If near the privy Members it denotes unspeakable desires after Venery, and unsatiable in coacting.’
So does your belly suggest that you are wise or slothful, or is it perhaps time to do a few more sit-ups?