"Hercules Is Not Only Known By His Foot"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: This philosophical physician and scientist set out to write a report concerning some forty or fifty Roman funeral urns which were exhumed near Norwich. His speculative nature led him beyond the bounds of a mere scientific treatise to a disquisition on burial customs in general, ranging of course through his vast knowledge of classical literature. In Chapter 3 he discusses not only the effects of burial on the remains discovered but digresses to consider generally the information to be derived from exhumed remains, and reflects upon some classical examples:

. . . When Alexander opened the Tomb of Cyrus, the remaining bones discovered his proportion, whereof urnall fragments afford but a bad conjecture, and have this disadvantage of grave enterrments, that they leave us ignorant of most personal discoveries. For since bones afford not only rectitude and stability, but figure unto the body; it is no impossible physiognomy to conjecture at fleshy appendencies; and after what shape the muscles and carnous parts might hang in their full consistences. A full spread Cariola shews a well-shaped horse behind, handsome formed skulls give some analogy of fleshy resemblance. A critical view of bones makes a good distinction of sexes. Even colour is not beyond conjecture; since it is hard to be deceived in the distinction of Negro's skulls. Dante's characters are to be found in skulls as well as faces. Hercules is not only known by his foot. Other parts make out their comproportions, and inferences upon the whole or parts. And since the dimensions of the head measure the whole body, and the figure thereof gives conjecture of the principal faculties; physiognomy outlives our selves, and ends not in our graves.