§ bio Life of Oppian
Oppian the poet was the son of Agesilaus and Zenodote, and his birthplace was Anazarbos in Cilicia. His father, a man of wealth and considered the foremost citizen of his native city, distinguished too for culture and living the life of a philosopher, trained his son on the same lines and educated him in the whole curriculum of education — music and geometry and especially grammar. When Oppian was about thirty years of age, the Roman Emperor Severus visited Anazarbos. And whereas it was the duty of all public men to meet the Emperor, Agesilaus as a philosopher and one who despised all vain-glory neglected to do so. The Emperor was angered and banished him to the island of Melite in the Adriatic. There the son accompanied his father and there he wrote these very notable poems. Coming to Rome in the time of Antoninus, son of Severus — Severus being already dead — he read his poetry and was bidden to ask anything he pleased. He asked and obtained the restoration of his father, and received further for each verse or line of his poetry a golden coin. Returning home with his father and a pestilence coming upon Anazarbos he soon after died. His fellow-citizens gave him a funeral and erected in his honour a splendid monument with the following inscription:
'I, Oppian, won everlasting fame, but Fate's envious thread carried me off and chilly Hades took me while still young — me the minstrel of sweet song. But had dread Envy allowed me to remain alive long, no man would have won such glory as I.'
He wrote also certain other poems and he lived for thirty years. He possessed much polish and smoothness coupled with conciseness and nobility — a most difficult combination. He is particularly successful in sententious sayings and similes.
§ 1.1 Book I
The tribes of the sea and the far scattered ranks of all manner of fishes, the swimming brood of Amphitrite, will I declare, O Antoninus, sovereign majesty of earth; all that inhabit the watery flood and where each dwells, their mating in the waters and their birth, the life of fishes, their hates, their loves, their wiles, and the crafty devices of the cunning fisher's art — even all that men have devised against the baffling fishes. Over the unknown sea they sail with daring heart and they have beheld the unseen deeps and by their arts have mapped out the measures of the sea, men more than human. The mountain-bred Boar and the Bear the hunter sees, and, when he confronts him watches him openly, whether to shoot him afar or slay him at close quarters. Both beast and man fight securely on the land, and the hounds go with the hunter as guides to mark the quarry and direct their masters to the very lair and attend close at hand as helpers. To them winter brings no great fear, nor summer brings burning heat; for hunters have many shelters — shady thickets and cliffs and caves in the rock self-roofed; many a silvery river, too, stretching through the hills to quench thirst and dispense a never-failing bath; and by the green-fringed streams are low beds of grass, a soft couch in sunny weather for sleep after toil, and seasonable repast to eat of woodland fruits which grow abundant on the hills. Pleasure more than sweat attends the hunt. And those who prepare destruction for birds, easy for them too and visible is their prey. For some they capture unawares asleep upon their nests; others they take with limed reeds; others fall of themselves into the fine-plaited nets, seeking for a bed, and a woeful roost they find. But for the toilsome fishermen their labours are uncertain, and unstable as a dream is the hope that flatters their hearts. For not upon the moveless land do they labour, but always they have to encounter the chill and wildly raging water, which even to behold from the land brings terror and to essay it only with the eyes. In tiny barks they wander obsequious to the stormy winds, their minds ever on the surging waves; always they scan the dark clouds and ever tremble at the blackening tract of sea; no shelter have they from the raging winds nor any defence against the rain nor bulwark against summer heat. Moreover, they shudder at the terrors awful to behold of the grim sea, even the Sea-monsters which encounter them when they traverse the secret places of the deep. No hounds guide the fishers on their seaward path — for the tracks of the swimming tribes are unseen — nor do they see where the fish will encounter them and come within range of capture; for not by one path does the fish travel. In feeble hairs and bent hooks of bronze and in reeds and nets the fishers have their strength.
§ 1.56 Yet not bereft of pleasure art thou, if pleasure thou desirest, but sweet is the royal sport. A ship well-riveted, well-benched, light exceedingly, the young men drive with racing oars smiting the back of the sea; and at the stern the best man as steersman guides the ship, steady and true, to a wide space of gently heaving waves; and there feed infinite tribes of feasting fishes which thy servants ever tend, fattening them with abundant food, a ready choir of spoil for thee, O blessed one, and for thy glorious son, the flock of your capture. For straightway thou lettest from thy hand into the sea the well-woven line, and the fish quickly meets and seizes the hook of bronze and is speedily haled forth — not all unwilling — by our king; and thy heart is gladdened, O Lord of earth. For great delight it is for eye and mind to see the captive fish tossing and turning.
But be thou gracious unto me, thou who art king pin the tract of the sea, wide-ruling son of Cronus, Girdler of the earth, and be gracious thyself, O Sea, and ye gods who in the sounding sea have your abode; and grant me to tell of your herds and sea-bred tribes; and do thou, O lady Goddess, direct all and make these gifts of thy song well pleasing to our sovereign lord and to his son.
§ 1.80 Infinite and beyond ken are the tribes that move and swim in the depths of the sea, and none could name them certainly; for no man hath reached the limit of the sea, but unto three hundred fathoms less or more men know and have explored the deep. But, since the sea is infinite and of unmeasured depth, many things are hidden, and of these dark things none that is mortal can tell; for small are the understanding and the strength of men. The briny sea feeds not, I ween, fewer herds nor lesser tribes than earth, mother of many. But whether the tale of offspring be debatable between them both, or whether one excels the other, the gods know certainly; but we must make our reckoning by human wits.
Now fishes differ in breed and habit and in their path in the sea, and not all fishes have like range. For some keep by the low shores, feeding on sand and whatever things grow in the sand; to wit, the Sea-horse, the swift Cuckoo-fish, the yellow Erythinus, the Citharus and the Red Mullet and the feeble Melanurus, the shoals of the Trachurus, and the Sole and the Platyurus, the weak Ribbon-fish and the Mormyrus of varied hue and the Mackerel and the Carp and all that love the shores.
Others again feed in the mud and the shallows of the sea; to wit, the Skate and the monster tribes of the Ox-ray and the terrible Sting-ray, and the Cramp-fish truly named, the Turbot and the Callarias, the Red Mullet and the works of the Oniscus, and the Horse-mackerel and the Scepanus and whatsoever else feeds in mud.
On the weedy beach under the green grasses feeds the Maenis and the Goat-fish and the Atherine, the Smaris and the Blenny and the Sparus and both sorts of Bogue and whatsoever others love to feed on sea-weed.
§ 1.110 The Grey Mullets — Cestreus and Cephalus — the most righteous race of the briny sea, and the Basse and the bold Amia, the Chremes, the Pelamyd, the Conger, and the fish which men call Olisthus — these always dwell in the sea where it neighbours rivers or lakes, where the sweet water ceases from the brine, and where much alluvial silt is gathered, drawn from the land by the eddying current. There they feed on pleasant food and fatten on the sweet brine. The Basse does not fail even from the rivers themselves but swims up out of the sea into the estuaries; while the Eels come from the rivers and draw to the flat reefs of the sea.
The sea-girt rocks are of many sorts. Some are wet and covered with seaweed and about them grows abundant moss. About these feed the Perch and the Rainbow-wrasse and the Channus and withal the spangled Saupe and the slender Thrush-wrasse and the Phycisa and those which fishermen have nicknamed from the name of an effeminate man.
Other rocks are low-lying beside the sandy sea and rough; about these dwell the Cirrhis and the Sea-swine and the Basiliscus and withal the Mylus and the rosy tribes of the Red Mullet.
Other rocks again whose wet faces are green with grasses have for tenant the Sargue and the Sciaena, the Dory, and the Crow-fish, named from its dusky colour, and the Parrot-wrasse, which alone among all the voiceless fishes utters a liquid note and alone rejects its food back into its mouth, and feasts on it a second time, throwing up its food even as sheep and goats.
Those rocks again which abound in Clams or Limpets and in which there are chambers and abodes for fish to enter — on these abide the Braize and the shameless Wild Braize and the Cercurus and the gluttonous and baleful Muraena and the Horse-mackerel and the race of the late-dying Merou, which of all others on the earth remain longest alive and wriggle even when cut in pieces with a knife.
§ 1.145 Others in the deeps under the sea abide in their lairs; to wit, the Sea-sheep and the Hepatus and the Prepon. Strong and large of body are they, but slowly they roll upon their way; wherefore also they never leave their own cleft, but just there they lie in wait beside their lair for any fish that may approach, and bring sudden doom on lesser fishes. Among these also is numbered the Hake, which beyond all fishes shrinks from the bitter assault of the Dog-star in summer, and remains retired within phis dark recess and comes not forth so long as the breath of the fierce star prevails.
A fish there is which haunts the sea-washed rocks, yellow of aspect and in like build unto the Grey Mullet; some men call him Adonis; others name him the Sleeper-out, because he takes his sleep outside the sea and comes to the land, alone of all them that have gills, those folds of the mouth, on either side. For when calm hushes the works of the glancing sea, he hastes with the hasting tide and, stretched upon the rocks, takes his rest in fine weather. But he fears the race of sea-birds which are hostile to him; if he sees any of them approach, he hops like a dancer until, as he rolls on and on, the sea-wave receives him safe from the rocks.
Others live both among the rocks and in the sands; to wit, the Gilt-head, named from its beauty, and the Weever and the Simus and the Glaucus and the strong Dentex, the rushing Scorpion, a double race, and both sorts of the long Sphyraena and therewithal the slender Needle-fish; the Charax likewise is there and the nimble tumbling Goby and the savage tribe of Sea-mice, which are bold beyond all other fishes and contend even with men; not that they are so very large, but trusting chiefly to their hard hide and the serried teeth of their mouth, they fight with fishes and with mightier men.
§ 1.179 Others roam in the unmeasured seas far from the dry land and companion not with the shores; to wit, the dashing Tunny, most excellent among fishes for spring and speed, and the Sword-fish, truly named, and the huge race of the Orcynus and the Premas and the Cybeia and the Coly-mackerel and the Scytala and the tribes of the Hippurus. Among these, too, is the Beauty-fish, truly named, a holy fish; and among them dwells the Pilot-fish which sailors revere exceedingly, and they have given him this name for his convoying of ships. For they delight exceedingly in ships that run over the wet seas, and they attend them as convoyers, voyaging with them on this side and on that, gambolling around and about the well-benched chariot of the sea, about both sides and about the controlling helm at the stern, while others gather round the prow; not of their own motion thou wouldst say that they voyage, but rather entangled in the well-riveted timbers are pulled against their will as in chains and carried along perforce; so great a swarm does their passion for hollow ships collect. Even as a city-saving king or some athlete crowned with fresh garlands is beset by boys and youths and men who lead him to his house and attend him always in troops until he passes the fencing threshold of his halls, even so the Pilot-fishes always attend swift-faring ships, so long as no fear of the earth drives them away. But when they mark the dry land — and greatly do they abhor the solid earth — they all turn back again in a body and rush away as from the starting-post and follow the ships no more. This is a true sign to sailors that they are near land, when they see those companions of their voyage leaving them. O Pilot-fish, honoured of seafarers, by thee doth a man divine the coming of temperate winds; for with fair weather thou dost put to sea and fair weather signs thou showest forth.
§ 1.210 Companion of the open seas likewise is the Echeneis. It is slender of aspect, in length a cubit, its colour dusky, its nature like that of the eel; under its head its mouth slopes sharp and crooked, like the barb of a curved hook. A marvellous thing have mariners remarked of the slippery Echeneis, hearing which a man would refuse to believe it in his heart; for always the mind of inexperienced men is hard to persuade, and they will not believe even the truth. When a ship is straining under stress of a strong wind, running with spread sails over the spaces of the sea, the fish gapes its tiny mouth and stays all the ship underneath, constraining it below the keel; and it cleaves waves no more for all its haste but is firmly stayed, even as if it were shut up in a tideless harbour. All its canvas groans upon the forestays, the ropes creak, the yard-arm bends under the stress of the breeze, and on the stern the steersman gives every rein to the ship, urging her to her briny path. But she nor heeds the helm nor obeys the winds nor is driven by the waves but, fixed fast, remains against her will and is fettered for all her haste, rooted on the mouth of a feeble fish. And the sailors tremble to see the mysterious bonds of the sea, beholding a marvel like unto a dream. As when in the woods a hunter lies in wait for a swift-running Deer and smites her with winged arrow on the leg and stays her in her course; and she for all her haste, transfixed with compelling pain, unwillingly awaits the bold hunter; even such a fetter doth the spotted fish cast about the ship which it encounters, and from such deeds it gets its name.
The Pilchard again and the Shad and the Abramis move in shoals, now in one path of the sea, now in another, round rocks or in the open sea, and they also run to the long shores, ever changing to a strange path like wanderers.
§ 1.248 The range of the Anthias is most familiar to the deep rocks; yet no wise do they always dwell among these, but wander everywhere as they are bidden by their jaws, their belly and their gluttonous desire insatiate of food; for beyond others a voracious passion drives those fishes, albeit the space of their mouth is toothless. Four mighty tribes of the Anthias inhabit the sea, the yellow, the white, and, a third breed, the black; others men call Euopus and Aulopus, because they have a circular dark brow ringed above their eyes.
Two fishes whose limbs are fenced with hard coats swim in the gulfs of the sea; to wit, the Spiny Crayfish and the Lobster. Both these dwell among the rocks and among the rocks they feed. The Lobster again holds in his heart a love exceeding and unspeakable for his own lair and he never leaves it willingly, but if one drag him away by force and let him go again in the sea, in no long time he returns to his own cleft eagerly, and will not choose a strange retreat nor does he heed any other rock but seeks the home that he left and his native haunts and his feeding-ground in the brine which fed him before, and leaves not the sea from which seafaring fishermen estranged him. Thus even to the swimming tribes their own house and their native sea and the home place where they were born instil in their hearts a sweet delight, and it is not to mortal men only that their fatherland is dearest of all; and there is nothing more painful or more terrible then when a man perforce lives the grievous life of an exile from his native land, a stranger among aliens bearing the yoke of dishonour.
§ 1.280 In that kind are also the wandering Crab and the herds of the Prawn and the shameless tribes of the Pagurus, whose lot is numbered with the amphibians.
All those whose body is set beneath a shell put off the old shell and another springs up from the nether flesh. The Pagurus, when they feel the violence of the rending shell, rush everywhere in their desire for food, that the separation of the slough may be easier when they have sated themselves. But when the sheath is rent and slips off, then at first they lie idly stretched upon the sands, mindful neither of food nor of aught else, thinking to be numbered with the dead and to breathe warm breath no more, and they tremble for their new-grown tender hide. Afterwards they recover their spirits again and take a little courage and eat of the sand; but they are weak and helpless of heart until a new shelter is compacted around their limbs. Even as when a physician tends a man who is laden with disease, in the first days he keeps him from tasting food, blunting the fierceness of his malady, and then he gives him a little food for the sick, until he has cleared away all his distress and his limb-devouring aches and pains; even so they retire, fearing for their new-grown shells, to escape the evil fates of disease.
§ 1.305 Other reptiles dwell in the haunts of the sea, the crooked Poulpe and the Water-newt and the Scolopendra, abhorred by fishermen, and the Osmylus. These also are amphibious; and some rustic tiller of the soil, I ween, who tends a vineyard by the sea, has seen an Osmylus or a Poulpe twining above the fruit-laden branches and devouring the sweet fruit off the trees. The same way as these reptiles have also the crafty Cuttle-fish. But other tribes dwell in the waves which have a hard shell, many among the rocks and many amid the sands; to wit, the Nerites and the race of the Strombus and the Purple-shells themselves and the Trumpet-shells and the Mussel and the truly-named Razor-shell and the dewy Oysters and the prickly Sea-urchins, which, if one cut them in small pieces and cast them into the sea, grow together and again become alive.
The Hermit-crabs have no shell of their own from birth but are born naked and unprotected and weak; yet they devise for themselves an acquired home, covering their feeble bodies with a bastard shelter. For when they see a shell left all desolate, the tenant having left his home, they creep in below the alien mantle and settle there and dwell and take it for their home. And along with it they travel and move their shelter from within — whether it be some Nerites that hath left the shell or a Trumpet or a Strombus. Most of all they love the shelters of the Strombus, because these are wide and light to carry. But when the Hermit-crab within grows and fills the cavity, it keeps that house no longer, but leaves it and seeks a wider shell-vessel to put on. Ofttimes battle arises and great contention among the Hermit-crabs about a hollow shell and the stronger drives out the weaker and herself puts on the fitting house.
One fish there is covered with a hollow shell, like in form to the Poulpe, which men call the Nautilus, so named because it sails of itself. It dwells in the sands and it rises to the surface of the water face downwards, so that the sea may not fill it. But when it swims above the waves of Amphitrite, straightway it turns over and sails like a man skilled in sailing a boat. Two feet it stretches aloft by way of rigging and between these runs like a sail a fine membrane which is stretched by the wind; but underneath two feet touching the water, like rudders, guide and direct house and ship and fish. But when it fears some evil hard at hand, no longer does it trust the winds in its flight, but gathers in all its tackle, sails and rudders, and receives the full flood within and is weighed down and sunk by the rush of water. Ah! whosoever first invented ships, the chariots of the sea, whether it was some god that devised them or whether some daring mortal first boasted to have crossed the wave, surely it was when he had seen that voyaging of a fish that he framed a like work in wood, spreading from the forestays those parts to catch the wind and those behind to control the ship.
§ 1.360 The Sea-monsters mighty of limb and huge, the wonders of the sea, heavy with strength invincible, a terror for the eyes to behold and ever armed with deadly rage — many of these there be that roam the spacious seas, where are the unmapped prospects of Poseidon, but few of them come nigh the shore, those only whose weight the beaches can bear and whom the salt water does not fail. Among these are the terrible Lion and the truculent Hammer-head and the deadly Leopard and the dashing Physalus; among them also is the impetuous black race of the Tunny and the deadly Saw-fish and the dread gape of the woeful Lamna and the Maltha, named not from soft feebleness, and the terrible Rams and the awful weight of the Hyaena and the ravenous and shameless Dogfish. Of the Dogfish there are three races; one fierce race in the deep seas is numbered among the terrible Sea-monsters; two other races among the mightiest fishes dwell in the deep mud; one of these from its black spines is called Centrines, the other by the general name of Galeus; and of the Galeus there are different kinds, to wit, the Scymnus, the Smooth Dogfish, the Spiny Dogfish; and among them are the Angel-shark, the Fox-shark and the Spotted Dogfish. But the works and the feeding of them all is alike and they herd together.
§ 1.383 The Dolphins both rejoice in the echoing shores and dwell in the deep seas, and there is no sea without Dolphins; for Poseidon loves them exceedingly, inasmuch as when he was seeking the dark-eyed daughter of Nereus who fled from his embraces, the Dolphin marked her hiding in the halls of Ocean and told Poseidon; and the god of the dark hair straightway carried off the maiden and overcame her against her will. Her he made his bride, queen of the sea, and for their tidings he commended his kindly attendants and bestowed on them exceeding honour for their portion.
There are also those among the stern Sea-monsters which leave the salt water and come forth upon the life-giving soil of the dry land. For a long space do Eels consort with the shores and the fields beside the sea; so too the shielded Turtle and the woeful, lamentable Castorids, which utter on the shores their grievous voice of evil omen. He who receives in his ears their voice of sorrow, shall soon be not far from death, but that dread sound prophesies for him doom and death. Nay, even the shameless Whale, they say, leaves the sea for the dry land and basks in the sun. And Seals in the night-time always leave the sea, and often in the day-time they abide at their ease on the rocks and on the sands and take their sleep outside the sea.
§ 1.409 O Father Zeus, in thee and by thee are all things rooted, whether thou dwellest in the highest height of heaven or whether thou dwellest everywhere; for that is impossible for a mortal to declare. With what loving-kindness, although thou hast marked out and divided the bright sky and the air and the fluid water and earth, mother of all, and established them apart each from the other, yet hast thou bound them all one to another in a bond of amity that may not be broken and set them perforce under a common yoke not to be removed! For neither is the sky without air nor the air without water nor is the water sundered from the earth, but they inhere each in the other, and all travel one path and revolve in one cycle of change. Therefore also they pledge one another in the common race of the amphibians; of whom some come up from the sea to the land; others again go down from the air to consort with the sea; to wit, the light Gulls and the plaintive tribes of the Kingfisher and the strong rapacious Sea-eagle, and whatsoever others there be that fish and seek their prey in the water. Others again, though they are dwellers in the sea, plough the air; to wit, the Calamaries and the race of Sea-hawks and the Swallow of the deep. These, when they fear a mightier fish at hand, leap from the sea and fly in the air. But while the Calamaries ply the wing high and far — a bird would you think you were seeing, not a fish, when they set themselves in shoals to fly — the Swallows keep a lower path and the Hawks fly close to the very sea, grazing the surface of the water, seeming, to behold, as if they swam at once and flew.
§ 1.435 These are the city-states, as it were, among fishes, these the various communities of the sea-wandering race. And of these some roam all together in their various tribes, like flocks of sheep or like armies, and these are called shoaling fishes; others again move in files; others like platoons or sections of ten; another goes on his own course all alone and apart from others; yet others travel in pairs; while some again remain at home in their own lairs.
§ 1.446 In winter all dread exceedingly the terrible eddies of the storm-winds and the billows of the evil-sounding sea itself: for beyond all else the fishy tribes abhor their beloved sea when it rages. Then do some with their fins scrape the sand together and skulk like cowards beneath it, others creep below the rocks where they huddle together, others flee down to the nether depths of the deepest seas; for those seas neither roll overmuch nor are stirred to the bottom by the winds and no blast penetrates the nether foundation of the sea; and the great depth protects the fishes from the pangs of cold and the cruel assault of winter. But when the flowery hours of spring smile brightly on the earth and with fine weather the sea has respite from winter and there is calm water with a gentle swell, then from this quarter and from that the fishes come trooping joyfully nigh the land. As when, happily escaped from the cloud of ruinous war, some city dear to the deathless gods, which long time the brazen storm of foemen beset as with a flood, at last ceases gladly from strife and recovers her breath; she rejoices and takes her delight in the eager labours of peace and in calm weather holds festival, full of the dancing of men and women; even so the fishes, gladly escaped from sorrowful affliction and rough seas, rush exultant over the wave, leaping like dancers. And in spring the sweet goad of compelling desire and mating and mutual love are in season among all that move upon the fruitful earth and in the folds of air and in the bellowing sea. In spring the Birth-goddesses deliver most part of the fishes from the heavy travail of spawning. The female, in their desire to give birth and to bring forth, rub their tender bellies in the sand; for the eggs do not part easily but are closely entangled together within the belly, confusedly cohering — how could they bring forth the mass? — and, painfully straitened, they with difficulty pass their spawn. So not even on the fishes have the Fates bestowed easy birth, and not alone to women upon earth are there pains, but everywhere the birth-pangs are grievous. As for the males, on the other hand, some hasten to approach the shores, bringing doom to other fishes on which they feast; others again run before the shoals of females by whom they are pursued, since drawn by the passion of desire the females haste after the males with rush incontinent. Then the males, rubbing belly against belly, discharge behind them the moist milt; and the females, goaded by desire, rush to gobble it up with their mouths; by such mating they are filled with roe. This is the most common custom among fishes, but others there are which have separate and apart their own beds and bridal chambers and wedded wives; for there is much Passion among fishes and Desire and Jealousy, that grievous god, and all that hot Love brings forth, when he stirs fierce tumult in the heart. Many quarrel with one another and fight over a mate, like unto wooers who about a bride gather many and well-matched and contend in wealth and beauty. These weapons the fish have not, but strength and jaws and sawlike teeth within: with these they enter the lists and arm themselves to win a mate; and he who excels with these, wins at once both victory and mate. And some delight in more mates than one to share their bed, to wit, the race of the Sargue and the dusky Merle; others love and attend a single mate, as the Black Sea-bream and the Aetnaeus and delight not in more than one.
§ 1.510 But neither Eels nor Turtles nor Poulpes effect their mating in this fashion, nor the dark Muraena, but they have an unusual mode of union. Eels coil round one another and closely entwined they writhe their moist bodies, and from them a fluid like foam flows and is covered by the sands; and the mud receives it and conceives, and gives birth to the trailing Eel. Such also is the generation of the slippery Conger.
The Turtles greatly fear and hate their mating; for they have no delight or pleasure in union, as other creatures have, but they have far more pain. For the organ of the male is very hard, an unyielding bone, which is whetted in a joyless union. Therefore they fight and rend each other with their bent teeth, when they come together: the females seeking to avoid the rough mating, the males eager to mate, willing bridegrooms of unwilling brides; until the male by his strength prevails and makes her perforce his mate, like a captive bride, the prize of war. The mating of Dogs on land is similar to that of Turtles in the sea: similar also is that of Seals; for all of those remain a long time coupled rearwards, fast bound as by a chain.
§ 1.536 For the Poulpe his deadly mating goes with bitter destruction and union consummated is consummated death: for he does not abstain or cease from his desire, until he is spent and strength forsakes his limbs and he himself falls exhausted on the sand and perishes. For all that come nigh devour him — the timid Hermit-crab and the Crabs and other fishes which he himself formerly was wont to banquet on, easily stealing upon them; by these he is now devoured, still alive but lying helplessly, and making no resistance, until he dies. By such a death, the sad fruit of desire, he perishes. And even so the female likewise perishes, exhausted by the travail of birth. For their eggs do not issue forth separately, as with other fishes, but, clustered together like grapes, they pass with difficulty through the narrow channel. Wherefore the Poulpes never live beyond the measure of a year; for always they perish by dreadest mating and dreadest travail of birth.
§ 1.554 Touching the Muraena there is a not obscure report that a Serpent mates with her, and that the Muraena herself comes forth from the sea willingly, eager mate to eager mate. The bitter Serpent, whetted by the fiery passion within him, is frenzied for mating and drags himself nigh the shore; and anon he espies a hollow rock and therein vomits forth phis baneful venom, the fierce bile of his teeth, a deadly store, that he may be mild and serene to meet his bride. Standing on the shore he utters his hissing note, his mating call; and the dusky Muraena quickly hears his cry and speeds swifter than an arrow. She stretches her from the sea, he from the land treads the grey surf, and, eager to mate with one another, the two embrace, and the panting bride receives with open mouth the Serpent's head. Then, exulting over their union, she goes back again to her haunts in the sea, while he makes his trailing way to the land, where he takes in again his venom, lapping up that which before he shed and discharged from his teeth. But if he find not that bile — which some wayfarer, seeing it for what it is, has washed away with torrents of water — then indignant he dashes his body, till he finds the doom of a sad and unthought-for death, ashamed to be a Serpent when he is left defenceless of the weapons in which he trusted, and on the rock with his lost venom he loses his life.
§ 1.580 Dolphins mate after the manner of men, and the organs with which they are equipped are quite human-like; the male organ is not always visible but is hidden within and extended on occasion of mating.
Such are the loves and mating among fishes. And others at other season they desire to mate and bring forth their young; for some summer, some winter, for others spring or waning autumn brings birth. And some — the greatest part — are in travail of a single brood a year, but the Basse is twice burdened by the pangs of birth; the Red Mullet gets its name Trigla from its triple brood; the Scorpion again endures the pang of four labours; the Carps alone bear five times; and the Oniscus is the only fish, they say, whose breeding no one has ever remarked, but that is still a mystery among men.
§ 1.595 When in spring the oviparous fishes are full of roe, some of them remain quietly in their homes, each tribe in its own place; but many gather together and pursue a common path to the Euxine Sea, that there they may bring forth their brood. For that gulf is the sweetest of all the sea, watered as it is by infinite rivers of abundant water; and it has soft and sandy bays; therein are goodly feeding-grounds and waveless shores and caverned rocks and silty clefts and shady headlands and all that fish most love; but no fierce Sea-monster inhabits there not any deadly bane of the finny race nor any of those which prey upon the smaller fishes — no coiling Poulpe nor Lobster nor Crab; Dolphins, indeed, dwell there but few, and feebler even these than the Sea-monster breed and harmless. Wherefore to fishes that water is pleasant exceedingly and they greatly haste to come to it. All together they set forth in company, gathering to one place from their several haunts, and all have one path, one voyage, one course, even as again all have the same impulse of return.
§ 1.616 And the swarms of various tribe make the Thracian Ford of the Cow, past the Bebrycian Sea and the narrow mouth of Pontus traversing a long course of the ocean. And as when from the Ethiopians and the streams of Egypt there comes the high-flying choir of clanging Cranes, fleeing from winter and the snowy Mount of Atlas and the weak prace of the feeble Pygmies: as they fly in ordered ranks their broad swarms shadow the air and keep unbroken line; even so in that season those myriad-tribed phalanxes of the sea plough the great waves of the Euxine; and the sea is full to overflowing and rough with the beating of many fins, till eagerly they win rest from their long journey and their spawning. But when the term of autumn passes, they bethink them of their homeward way, since chillier than all other is the winter that rages on that eddying sea; for it is not deep offshore but is easily buffeted about by the winds which beat upon it violent and deadly. Wherefore they slip away from the Amazonian mere and with their young travel home again, and scatter over the sea, each tribe to the place where they are to feed.
§ 1.638 Now those which are called Molluscs, whose limbs are bloodless and boneless, and those tribes that are covered with close-set scales or armed with scutes, are all alike oviparous; but from the fierce Dogfish and the Eagle-ray and all the tribes that are called Selachians and from the kingly Dolphins which lord it among fishes and from the ox-eyed Seal spring children who straightway from birth are like their parents.
§ 1.646 Now all the viviparous denizens of the sea love and cherish their young but diviner than the Dolphin is nothing yet created; for indeed they were aforetime men and lived in cities along with mortals, but by the devising of Dionysus they exchanged the land for the sea and put on the form of fishes; but even now the righteous spirit of men in them preserves human thought and human deeds. For when the twin offspring of their travail come into the light, straightway, soon as they are born they swim and gambol round their mother and enter within her teeth and linger in the maternal mouth; and she for her love suffers them and circles about her children gaily and exulting with exceeding joy. And she gives them her breasts, one to each, that they may suck the sweet milk; for god has given her milk and breasts of like nature to those of women. Thus for a season she nurses them; but, when they attain the strength of youth, straightway their mother leads them in their eagerness to the way of hunting and teaches them the art of catching fish; nor does she part from her children nor forsake them, until they have attained the fulness of their age in limb and strength, but always the parents attend them to keep watch and ward. What a marvel shalt thou contemplate in thy heart and what sweet delight, when on a voyage, watching when the wind is fair and the sea is calm, thou shalt see the beautiful herds of Dolphins, the desire of the sea; the young go before in a troop like youths unwed, even as if they were going through the changing circle of a mazy dance; behind and not aloof their children come the parents great and splendid, a guardian host, even as in spring the shepherds attend the tender lambs at pasture. As when from the works of the Muses children come trooping while behind there follow, to watch them and to be censors of modesty and heart and mind, men of older years: for age makes a man discreet; even so also the parent Dolphins attend their children, lest aught untoward encounter them.
§ 1.685 Yea and the Seal also tends her young no less well; for she too has breasts, and in the breasts streams of milk. But not amid the waves but when she comes up on the dry land is she delivered of the burden of her womb in seasonable travail. For twelve days in all she remains with her children there upon the dry land; but with the thirteenth dawn she takes in her arms her young cubs and goes down into the sea, glorying in her children and showing them, as it were, their fatherland. Even as a woman that has borne a child in an alien land comes gladly to her fatherland and to her own home; and all day long she carries her child in her arms and hugs him while she shows him the house, his mother's home, with sateless delight; and he, though he does not understand, gazes at each thing, the hall and the haunts of his parents; even so that wild thing of the sea brings her children to the water and shows them all the works of the deep.
§ 1.700 Ye gods, not alone then among men are children very dear, sweeter than light or life, but in birds also and in savage beasts and in carrion fishes there is inbred, mysterious and self-taught, a keen passion for their young, and for their children they are not unwilling but heartily eager to die and to endure all manner of woeful ill. Ere now on the hills a hunter has seen a roaring Lion bestriding his young, fighting in defence of his offspring; the thick hurtling stones he heeds not nor recks of the hunter's spear but all undaunted keeps heart and spirit, though hit and torn by all manner of wounds; nor will he shrink from the combat till he die, but even half-dead he stands over his children to defend them, and not so much does he mind death as that he should not see his children in the hands of the hunters, penned in the rude wild-beast den. And ere now a shepherd, approaching the kennel where a bitch nursed her new-born whelps, even if he were acquainted with her before, has drawn back in terror at her yelping wrath; so fiercely she guards her young and has no regard for any but is fearful of approach for all. How, too, around calves when they are dragged away do their grieving mothers make lament, not unlike the mourning of women, causing the very herdsmen to share their pain. Yea and a man hears at morn the shrill plaint for her children of Gier or many-noted Nightingale, or in the spring chances on the Swallows wailing for their young, which cruel men or snakes have harried from the nest. Among fishes again the Dolphin is first in love for its children, but others likewise care for their young.
§ 1.734 Here is the marvel of the sea-roaming Dogfish. Her new-born brood keep her company and their mother is their shield; but when they are affrighted by any of the infinite terrors of the sea, then she receives her children within her loins by the same entry, the same path, by which they glided forth when they were born. And this labour, despite her pain, she endures gladly, taking her children back within her body and putting them forth again when they have recovered from their fear.
A like defence also does the Angel-shark furnish for her young; but it is not into her womb that her children enter, as with the Dogfish, but on either side below her fins she has slits, like the jaws of other fishes, wherewith she covers the terror of her frightened children.
Others again protect their children by taking them into the mouth as it were into a house or nest; as, for example, the Glaucus which loves its children beyond all other fishes that are oviparous. For it both remains sitting by until the young come forth from the eggs and always swims beside them; and when it sees them afraid of a strange fish it opens its gape and takes them into its mouth until the terror has withdrawn, and then again ejects them from its throat.
Than the Tunny I deem there is no fish that dwells in the brine more lawless or which exceeds it in wickedness of heart; for when she has laid her eggs and escaped from the grievous travail of birth, the very mother that bare them devours all that she can overtake: pitiless mother who devours her own children while yet they are ignorant of flight and hath no compassion on her brood.
There are also those which are not produced by bridal or birth — races self-created and self-made: even all the Oysters, which are produced by the slime itself. Of these there is no female sex nor, in turn, are there any males, but all are of one nature and alike.
§ 1.767 So also the weak race of the feeble Fry are born of no blood and of no parents. For when from the clouds the wisdom of Zeus draws rain, fierce and incontinent, upon the deep, straightway all the sea, confounded by the eddying winds, hisses and foams and swells up and, by what manner of mating is beyond ken or guess, the Fry in shoals are born and bred and come to light, numberless and feeble, a hoary brood; and from the manner of their birth they are nicknamed the Daughters of the Foam. And others of the Fry spring from alluvial slime; for when in the eddies and tides of the sea a medley mass of scum is washed up by the driving wind, then all the slimy silt comes together and when calm is spread abroad, straightway the sand and the infinite refuse of the sea ferment and therefrom spring the Fry innumerable like worms. There is not surely any other race more feeble than the poor Fry; for all fishes they are a goodly feast, but themselves they lick each the body of the other: that is their food and livelihood. And when in their shoals they beset the sea, seeking haply a shady rock or covert of the sea and watery shelter, then all the grey deep shows white. As when the swift might of Zephyrus from the West shadows with snow-flakes a spacious garden and nothing of the dark earth appears to the eye, but all is white and covered with snow on snow; even so in that season, full to overflowing with the infinite shoals of Fry, white shines the garden of Poseidon.
§ 2.1 Book II
Thus do fishes range and feed, thus roam the tribes of the sea; in such mating, in such breeding they delight. All these things, I ween, someone of the immortals hath showed to men. For what can mortals accomplish without the gods? Nay, not even so much as lift a foot from the ground or open the bright orbs of the eyes. The gods themselves rule and direct everything, being far, yet very near. And doom unshakable constrains men to obey, and there is no strength nor might whereby one may haughtily wrench with stubborn jaws and escape that doom, as a colt that spurns the bit. But evermore the gods who are above all turn the reins all ways even as they will, and he who is wise obeys before he is driven by the cruel lash unwillingly. The gods also have given to men cunning arts and have put in them all wisdom. Other god is namesake of other craft, even that whereof he hath got the honourable keeping. Deo hath the privilege of yoking oxen and ploughing the fields and reaping the fruitful harvest of wheat. Carpentry of wood and building of houses and weaving of cloth with the goodly wool of sheep — these hath Pallas taught to men. The gifts of Ares are swords and brazen tunics to array the limbs and helmets and spears and whatsoever things Enyo delights in. The gifts of the Muses and Apollo are songs. Hermes hath bestowed eloquence and doughty feats of strength. Hephaestus hath in his charge the sweaty toil of the hammer. These devices also of the sea and the business of fishing and the power to mark the multitude of fishes that travel in the water — these hath some god given to men; even he who also first filled the rent bowels of earth with the gathered rivers and poured forth the bitter sea and wreathed it as a garland, confining it about with crags and beaches; whether one should more fitly call him wide-ruling Poseidon or ancient Nereus or Phorcys, or other god that rules the sea. But may all the gods that keep Olympus, and they that dwell in the sea, or on the bounteous earth, or in the air, have a gracious heart toward thee, O blessed wielder of the sceptre, and toward thy glorious offspring and to all thy people and to our song.
§ 2.43 Among fishes neither justice is of any account nor is there any mercy nor love; for all the fish that swim are bitter foes to one another. The stronger ever devours the weaker; this against that swims fraught with doom and one for another furnishes food. Some overpower the weaker by force of jaws and strength; others have venomous mouth; others have spines wherewith to defend them with deadly blows — bitter, sharp points of fiery wrath. And those to whom God hath not given strength, and who have no sharp sting springing from the body, to these he hath given a weapon of mind, even crafty counsel of many devices; these by guile ofttimes destroy a strong and mightier fish.
§ 2.56 Thus the Cramp-fish of tender flesh is endowed with a specific of valour, self-taught in its own limbs. For soft of body and altogether weak and sluggish it is weighed down with slowness, and you could not say you see it swimming; hard to mark is its path as it crawls and creeps through the grey water. But in its loins it hath a piece of craft, its strength in weakness: even two rays planted in its sides, one on either hand. If one approach and touch these, straightway it quenches the strength of his body and his blood is frozen within him and his limbs cannot carry him but he quietly pines away and his strength is drained by stupid torpor. Knowing well what a gift it hath received from God, the Cramp-fish lays itself supine among the sands and so remains, lying unmoving as a corpse. But any fish that touches its loins is paralysed and falls even so into the deep sleep of weakness, fettered by helplessness. And the Cramp-fish, albeit not swift, speedily leaps up in joy and devours the living fish as if it were dead. Many times also when it meets with fishes swimming in the gulf of the sea, it quenches with its touch their swift career for all their haste and checks them in mid course. And they stay, blasted and helpless, thinking not, poor wretches, either of going on or of flight. But the Cramp-fish stays by and devours them, while they make no defence nor are conscious of their fate. Even as in the darkling phantoms of a dream, when a man is terrified and fain to flee, his heart leaps, but, struggle as he may, a steadfast bond as it were weighs down his eager knees: even such a fetter doth the Cramp-fish devise for fishes.
§ 2.86 The Fishing-frog again is likewise a sluggish and soft fish and most hideous to behold, with mouth that opens exceeding wide. But for him also craft devises food for his belly. Wrapt himself in the slimy mud he lies motionless, while he extends aloft a little bit of flesh which grows from the bottom of his jaw below, fine and bright, and it has an evil breath. This he waves incessantly, a snare for lesser fishes which, seeing it, are fain to seize it. But the Fishing-frog quietly draws it again gently quivering within his mouth, and the fishes follow, not suspecting any hidden guile until, ere they know it, they are caught within the wide jaws of the Fishing-frog. As when a man, devising a snare for lightsome birds, sprinkles some grains of wheat before the gates of guile while others he puts inside, and props up the trap; the keen desire of food draws the eager birds and they pass within and no more return or escape prepared for them, but they win an evil end to their banquet; even so the weak Fishing-frog deceives and attracts the fishes and they perceive not that they are hastening their own destruction. A like device, I have heard, the cunning Fox contrives. When she sees a dense flight of birds, she lies down on her side and stretches out her swift limbs and closes her eyes and shuts fast her mouth. Seeing her you would say that she was deep asleep or even lying quite dead: so breathless she lies stretched out, contriving guile. The birds, beholding, rush straightway upon her in a crowd and tear her fur with their feet, as if in mockery. But when they come nigh her teeth, then she opens the doors of guile and suddenly seizes them, and with wide gape cunningly catches her prey, even all that she takes at a swoop.
§ 2.120 Yea, the crafty Cuttle-fish also has found a cunning manner of hunting. From her head grow long slender branches, like locks of hair, wherewith as with lines she draws and captures fish, prone in the sand and coiled beneath her shell. With those locks, too, when the waves rage in wintry weather, she clings to the rocks even as a ship fastens her cables to the rocks upon the shore.
Prawns are small to look at and small too is the strength of their limbs, yet by their craft they destroy a valiant fish, even the Basse named for its gluttony. For the Basse are eager and keen to seize the Prawns; and these have no strength either to flee or to fight, yet as they are destroyed they destroy and slay their slayers. When the gaping Basse have caught them within their teeth, they leap oftentimes and fix in the midst of the palate of the Basse the sharp horn which springs from the top of their heads. The Basse, glutted with the prey which he loves, heeds not the prick. But it spreads and creeps apace, until, worn out with pain, doom overtakes him; and too late he knows that he is stricken by the spear of the dead.
§ 2.141 There is a fish which is at home in the mud, even the ravenous Ox-ray, broadest among all fishes; for indeed his breadth is often eleven cubits or twelve. But in might he is a weakling, and his body is devoid of strength and soft. The teeth within his mouth are inconspicuous, small and not strong. By might he could not overpower anything, but by craft he ensnares and overcomes even cunning men. For he greatly delights to banquet upon man and human flesh above all is to him pleasing and a welcome food. When he beholds anyone of those men who have their business in the deep waters of the brine descending to the nether depths, he rises lightly above his head and swims steadfastly, like the roof of a house, stretched about him inexorably. Where the wretched man goes, he goes, and when the man halts, he stands over him like a lid. As a boy sets a guileful doom for greedy mice; and the mouse, not dreaming of the ambush of the trap, is driven within by the desire of the belly; and swiftly the hollow vessel claps too above him and, for all his endeavour, he can no more escape from the strong cover, till the boy seizes and kills him, mocking the while his prey; even so over the man's head the deadly fish extends, preventing him from rising to the surface, until breath leaves him and he gasps out his life amid the waves; where the Ox-ray of evil name sets about him and feasts upon him, having by his wiles captured a difficult prey.
§ 2.165 And one who observes a Crab among the mossy ledges will praise and admire him for his cunning art. For to him also hath Heaven given wisdom to feed on Oysters, a sweet and unlaborious food. The Oysters open the bars of their doors and lick the mud, and, in their desire for water, sit wide open in the arms of the rocks. The Crab on the other hand takes a pebble from the beach, moving sideways, carries it clutched in his sharp claws. Stealthily he draws near and puts the stone in the middle of the Oyster. Then he sits by and makes a pleasant feast. And the Oyster, though fain, is unable to shut his two valves, but gapes perforce until he dies and gluts his captor.
A like craft is practised also by the reptile Star-fishes of the sea; for these too have a device against Oyster. Howbeit they bring no stone as comrade nor ally, but insert in the middle of the open Oyster a rough limb. Thus the Oysters are overcome, while the starfish feed.
§ 2.186 A shell again keeps the plains of the deep, wherein dwells a fish called Pinna. The Pinna herself is weak and can of herself devise nothing nor do aught, but in house and one shelter with her dwells a Crab which feeds and guards her; wherefore it is called the Pinna-guard. Now when a fish comes within the shell, the Crab seizes the unheeding Pinna and wounds her with crafty bite. Then in her pain she claps her shells together and so contrives to catch within a prey for herself and her companion, and they take a common meal together. Thus even among the swimming tribes that travel in the water some are crafty and some are stupid, as among us men, and not all have a right understanding.
§ 2.199 Mark now a fish that exceeds all in stupidity, even the Day-sleeper, lazy beyond all that the sea breeds. The eyes in his head are turned upward and the ravenous mouth between his eyes. Always he lies all day stretched in the sands asleep and only at night does he awake and wander abroad; wherefore is also called the Bat. But an evil doom is his for his limitless appetite. For he knows no satiety of food nor any measure, but in his shameless belly he nurses gluttony, rabid and endless, nor would he cease from feeding if food were at hand, till his belly itself burst utterly in the midst and himself fall flat upon his back or some other fish kill him, gorged with his latest meal. This sign I tell you of his ravenous gluttony. If a man capture him and tempt his prey by offering him food with his hand, he will take it until the food shall be heaped up even unto the most gluttonous jaws of him. Hear, ye generations of men, what manner of issue there is to gluttonous folly, what pain follows upon excessive eating. Let a man therefore drive far from heart and hand idleness that delights in evil pleasure, and observe measure in eating nor delight in luxurious tables. For many such there be among men who hold the reins loose and allow all rope to their belly. But let a man behold and avoid the end of the Day-sleeper.
§ 2.225 Wit and cunning belong also to the prickly Urchins, which know when the violence of the wind and the fierce storms are rising, and lift each of them upon their backs a stone of such weight as they can easily carry on their spines, that thus weighted they may withstand the driving of the wave. For that is what they most dread — lest the swelling wave roll them on the shore.
No one, I think, is ignorant of the craft of the Poulpes, which make themselves like in appearance to the rocks, even whatsoever rock they embrace and entwine with their tentacles. By their deceits they easily mislead and escape fishers alike and stronger fishes. When a weaker fish meets them near at hand, straightway they leap forth from their stony form and appear as veritable Poulpes and fishes, and by their craft contrive food and escape destruction. But in winter, they say, the Poulpes never travel over the waters of the sea; for they fear the fierce storms. But sitting down in their hollow chambers they cower, and devour their own feet as if they were alien flesh. These feet, when they have glutted their owners, grow again; this gift, I ween, Poseidon has given them. Such a device is used also by the fierce and gluttonous Bears. For they, shunning winter's threat, retreat into the rocky covert of their lair, where they lick their own feet, a fasting feast, seeking an unsubstantial food, and come not forth, until the mild spring be in its prime.
§ 2.253 Above all other the dashing Crayfish and the Muraena and the Poulpes have a bitter feud with each other and destroy one another with mutual slaughter. Always there is fishy war and strife between them, and one fills his maw with the other. The raging Muraena comes forth from her sea-washed rock and speeds through the waves of the deep in quest of food. Anon it descries a Poulpe crawling on the edge of the shore and rushes gladly on a welcome prey. The Poulpe is not unaware that the Muraena is at hand. First in terror he turns to flee, but he has no means to escape the Muraena, he crawling while she swims and rushes incontinently. Speedily she catches the Poulpe and fixes her deadly teeth in him. The Poulpe, on the other hand, albeit unwilling, fights under deadly compulsion and twines around her limbs, contriving all manner of twists, now this, now that, with his crooked whips, if haply, embracing her in his nooses, he may stay her onset. But for his evil plight there is no cure nor escape. When the Poulpe enfolds her, the nimble Muraena with her slippery limbs easily escapes through his embrace like water. But the Poulpe twines now round her spotted back, now round her neck, now round her very tail, and anon rushes into the gates of her mouth and the recesses of her jaws. Even as two men skilled in valiant wrestling long time display their might against each other; already from the limbs of both pours the sweat warm and abundant and the varied wiles of their art are all abroad and their hands wave about their bodies; even so the suckers of the Poulpe, at random plied, are all abroad, and labour in vain wrestling. But the Muraena with sharp assault of teeth rends the Poulpe; some of his limbs her belly receives, while other parts the sharp teeth still grind in her jaws, others are still quivering and twisting, half consumed, struggling still and fain to escape.
§ 2.289 As when in the woods the Stag of heavy horns, seeking the path of serpents, discovers the track by scent and devours it amain, while the serpent twines about knees and neck and breast, and some of its limbs lie half-eaten, much yet in the Stag's jaws the teeth devour: even so the coiling limbs of the hapless Poulpe writhe, nor does his device of stony craft save him. For even if perchance in his endeavours to escape he twine about a rock and clothe him in a colour like to it, yet he escapes not the wit of the Muraena, but she alone remarks him and his cunning is in vain. Then thou wouldst pity him for his unseemly doom, as he crouches on the rocks, while she stands by, as it were mocking him. Thou wouldst say cruel Muraena spoke and mocked him thus. Why dost thou skulk, crafty one? Whom hopest thou to deceive? Soon shall I assault the rock, if this cliff receive thee within it and close and cover thee. And straightway she fixes in him the curved edge of her teeth and devours him, pulling him all trembling from the rock. But he, even while he is rent, does not leave the rock nor let go. Coiling he clings to it till only his suckers remain fast. As when a city is sacked by the hands of the foemen, and children and women are haled away as the prize of the spear, a man drags away a boy who clings to the neck and arms of his mother; the boy relaxes not his arms that are twined about her neck, nor does the wailing mother let him go, but is dragged with him herself; even so the poor body of the Poulpe, as he is dragged away, clings to the wet rock and lets not go.
§ 2.320 The Crayfish again destroys the Muraena, savage though she be, overcome by her valour fatal to herself. He stands near the rock in which dwells the nimble Muraena and extends his two feelers and, breathing hostile breath, challenges the Muraena to battle: even as a chieftain, the champion of an army, who, trusting in the prowess of his hands and his skill in war, arrays in arms his strong body and brandishing his sharp spears challenges any foeman who will to meet him, and presently provokes another chieftain. Even so the Crayfish whets the spirit of the Muraena, and no laggard for battle is the dusky fish, but rushing from her lair with arched neck and quivering with wrath she goes to meet him. Yet for all her terrible rage she hurts not the prickly Crayfish; vainly and idly she fixes in him her jaw and rages with her hard teeth, which in her jaws rebound as from a hard rock and grow weary and pare blunted by their force. Greatly her fierce heart burns and is stirred, until the Crayfish rushes on her with his long claws and seizes her by the tendon in the midst of her throat, and clings and holds her firm as with brazen tongs, and lets her not go though eager to escape. She, distressed by his violence and vexed by pain, wheels every way her crooked body, and speedily she throws herself about the prickly back of the Crayfish and enfolds him and impales herself on the spine and sharp points of his shell, and, full of many wounds, perishes self-destroyed, dead by her own folly.
§ 2.350 As when a man skilled in the work of slaying wild beasts, when the people are gathered in the house-encircled market-place, awaits the Leopard maddened by the cracking of whip and with long-edged spear stands athwart her path; she, though she beholds the edge of sharp iron, mantles in swelling fury and receives in her throat, as it were in a spear-stand, the brazen lance; even so wrath slays the unhappy Muraena in her folly, overcome by self-dealt wounds. Such strife, I ween, upon the dry land a Serpent and a prickly Hedgehog wage, when they meet in the woods; for enmity is their lot also. The Hedgehog, seeing in front of him the deadly reptile, fences himself with his close-set bristling spines and rolls himself into a ball, protecting his limbs under his fence within which he crawls. The Serpent, rushing upon him, first assails him with his venomous jaws, but his labour is all in vain. For despite his eagerness he cannot reach the flesh within with his devouring teeth; so rough a pile surrounds the Hedgehog; who, like a round boulder, wheels his shifty limbs, rolling turn on turn, and falls upon the coils of the Serpent and wounds him with the sharp arrows of his bristles; and here and there flows the bloody ichor and many wounds torment the Serpent. Then the clammy Snake girds the Hedgehog all about with his circling coil and in the embrace of his grievous bonds holds him and bites and puts therein strength of anger. Then swiftly all the sharp-bristling spines of the Hedgehog glide into him; yet, impaled upon the prickles, he abates not his effort though fettered against his will, but remains fast as if held by strong dowels, until he dies; and often by his pressure he destroys the beast as well, and they become doom and bane to one another. But often, too, the dread Hedgehog gets away and escapes, slipping from the reptile and his darksome fetter, bearing still upon his spines the flesh of the dead Serpent. In like fashion also the Muraena perishes by a foolish doom, to the Crayfish an eager and welcome feast.
§ 2.385 The Crayfish again, prickly though he be and swift, is devoured by the Poulpe, albeit he is weaker and sluggish of motion. For when the Poulpe remarks him under the rocks sitting all motionless, stealthily he springs upon his back and casts his various bonds about him, oppressing him with the long chains of his strong feet and with the ends of his tentacles withal he constricts and strangles the warm channel in the midst of his mouth and suffers not his airy breath to pass either out or in (for fishes too draw the tide of air), but holds him in his embrace. And the Crayfish now swims, now halts, and again struggles, and anon dashes against the jutting crags. But the Poulpe relaxes not the contest of might, until life and strength forsake the other in death. Then when the Crayfish falls prone, the Poulpe sits by him on the sands and feasts, even as a child draws with his lips the sweet milk from the breast of his nurse; even so the Poulpe laps the flesh of the Crayfish, sucking and drawing it forth from its prickly vessel, and fills his belly with sweet food. Even as a day-sleeping man, with predatory craft devising dark counsels, never honouring the majesty of justice, skulks at evening in the narrow streets and lies in wait for one passing by after a banquet; the banqueter, heavy with wine, goes forward, singing drunkenly, bawling no very sober melody; and the other darts forth stealthily behind and seizes his neck with murderous hands and overpowers and lays him low in a cruel sleep not far from death and despoils him of all his raiment and goes his way with his booty, ill-gotten and unlawful: even such are the devices of the cunning Poulpes.
§ 2.419 These above all creatures of the sea are hostile and unfriendly and alone among the fishes of varied tribe are avengers and slayers one of the other.
Others of the fishes are venomous and an ugly venom is bred in their mouths and creeps hateful into their bite. Such is the Scolopendra, an ominous reptile of the brine, like in form to the reptile of the land, but deadlier in its hurt. For if one approach and touch it, straightway itch makes a hot redness on his flesh and a weal runs over him as from the grass which, from the pains which it causes, men call the nettle. Most hateful of all is the Scolopendra for fishermen to encounter; for if it touch the bait, not a fish will come near that hook; with such a hateful venom does the Scolopendra infect it.
§ 2.434 A like bane also is bred in the mouth of the spotted Rainbow-wrasses; them do men who explore the depths of the sea chiefly abhor — divers and toilsome sponge-cutters. For when they behold the searcher of the sea hasting to the depths for his labour under the water, in tens of thousands they spring from the rocks and rush around the man and throng in swarms about him and stay him in his course as he labours, on this side and on that stinging him with relentless mouths. He is wearied by his conflict with water and the hateful Wrasses. With hands and hasting feet he does all he can to ward off and drive away the watery host. But they pursue him stubbornly, like unto flies, the grievous hosts of harvest, which on every side fly about the reapers at their work when they toil in autumn; and the reapers sweat at once with their toil and the intemperate shafts of the air and they are vexed exceedingly by the flies; but these abate nothing of their shamelessness until they die or have tasted the reaper's dusky blood. Even such lust have these fishes also for the blood of men.
§ 2.454 No feeble bite verily hath the reptile Poulpe when he wounds, nor the Cuttle-fish, but in them also is bred an ichor scanty but noxious. Among fishes armed with sharp stings are the Goby which rejoices in the sands and the Scorpion which rejoices in the rocks, and the swift Swallows and the Weevers and those Dogfish which are named from their grievous spines — all discharging poison with their deadly pricks.
For the Sting-ray and the Swordfish God has put in their bodies most powerful gifts, equipping each with a weapon of exceeding might. Above the jaw of the Swordfish he has set a natural sword, upright and sharp, no sabre of iron but a mighty sword with the strength of adamant. When he puts his weight behind his terrible spear not even the hardest rock may endure the wound; so fierce and fiery is the onset.
§ 2.470 In the Sting-ray there springs from below the tail a fierce sting, at once grievous in its power and deadly with its venom. Neither the Sword-fishes nor the Sting-rays will taste any food with their jaws, until they have first wounded with their deadly jaws whatever prey is at hand whether it be alive or lifeless. But when the breath of life forsakes the Sword-fish, his mighty sword straightway perishes with him and his weapon is quenched with its master and there is left a bone of no account, a great sword only to behold and thou couldst do nothing with it if thou wouldst. But than the wound of the Sting-ray there is no more evil hurt, neither in the warlike weapons which the hands of the smith contrive nor in the deadly drugs which Persian pharmacists have devised upon their winged arrows. While the Sting-ray lives, a terrible and fiery weapon attends it, such, I ween, as a man trembles to hear of, and it lives when the Sting-ray itself has perished and preserves its unwearied strength unchanged; and not only on the living creatures which it strikes does it belch mysterious bane but it hurts even tree and rock and wherever it comes nigh. For if one take a lusty tree that flourishes in its season, with goodly foliage and fruitful crop, and wound it in the roots below with that relentless stroke, then, smitten by an evil bane, it ceases to put forth leaves and first droops as if by disease and its beauty fades away; and at no distant date thou shalt behold the tree withered and worthless and its greenery gone.
§ 2.497 That sting it was which his mother Circe, skilled in many drugs, gave of old to Telegonus for his long hilted spear, that he might array for his foes death from the sea. And he beached his ship on the island that pastured goats; and he knew not that he was harrying the flocks of his own father, and on his aged sire who came to the rescue, even on him whom he was seeking, he brought an evil fate. There the cunning Odysseus, who had passed through countless woes of the sea in his laborious adventures, the grievous Sting-ray slew with one blow.
§ 2.506 The Tunny and the Sword-fish are ever attended and companioned by a plague, which they can never turn away or escape: a fierce gadfly which infests their fins and which, when the burning Dog-star is newly risen, fixes in them the swift might of its bitter sting, and with sharp assault stirs them to grievous madness, making them drunk with pain. With the lash of frenzy it drives them to dance against their will; maddened by the cruel blow they rush and now here, now there ride over the waves, possessed by pain unending. Often also they leap into well-beaked ships, driven by the stress of their distemper; and often they leap forth from the sea and rush writhing upon the land, and exchange their weary agonies for death; so dire pain is heavy upon them and abates not. Yea, for oxen also, when the cruel gadfly attacks them and plunges its arrow in their tender flanks, have no more regard for the herdsman nor for the pasture nor for the herd, but leaving the grass and all the folds they rush, whetted by frenzy; no river nor untrodden sea nor rugged ravine nor pathless rock stays the course of the bulls, when the gadfly hot and sharp impels, urging them with keen pains. Everywhere there is bellowing, everywhere range their bounding hoofs: such bitter tempest drives. This pain the fishes suffer even as do the cattle.
§ 2.533 The Dolphins lord it greatly among the herds of the sea, pluming themselves eminently on their valiance and beauty and their swift speed in the water; for like an arrow they fly through the sea, and fiery and keen is the light which they flash from their eyes, and they descry, I ween, any fish that cowers in a cleft or wraps itself beneath the sands. Even as the Eagles are lords among the lightsome birds or Lions amid ravenous beasts, as Serpents are most excellent among reptiles, so are Dolphins leaders among fishes. Them as they come no fish dares to approach nor any to look them in the face, but they tremble from afar at the dread leaps and snorting breath of the lord of fishes. When the Dolphins set out in quest of food, they huddle before them all the infinite flocks of the sea together, driving them in utter rout; they fill with terror every path of the sea, and shady covert and low ravine, and the havens and the bays of the shore are straitened with fishes huddling from every side; and the Dolphin devours whichsoever he will, choosing the best of the infinite fishes at hand.
§ 2.553 But, notwithstanding, even the Dolphins have foes who meet their encounter, the fish called Amia, which care not for the Dolphin but alone fight them face to face. These have a weaker body than the Tunny and are clothed in feeble flesh, but in their ravenous mouth bristles sharp a dense array of teeth; wherefore also they have great courage and do not cower before the mighty lord of fishes. For when they see one that has wandered away alone from the rest of the herd of Dolphins, then from this quarter and from that, as a great army at command, they gather in a body together and set forth to battle dauntlessly, like shielded warriors against the tower of the foe. And the bearded Dolphin, when the crowd meets him, at first recks not of them but rushes among them, seizing and rending now one and now another, finding a banquet after his heart. But when the ranks of war surround him on every side and encircle him with their great and dense array, then trouble at length enters his heart and he knows that sheer destruction is upon him, hemmed about as he is, alone among countless foes; and the toil of battle appears. For furiously they fall in a body about the limbs of the Dolphin and fix in him the might of their teeth; everywhere they bite him and cling to him relentlessly, many clutching his head, others his grey jaws, while yet others cleave to his very fins; many in his flanks fix their deadly teeth, others seize the end of his tail, others his belly beneath, others feed upon his back above, others hang from his mane, others from his neck. And, full of manifold distress, he rushes over the sea and his frenzied heart within him is racked with agony and his spirit is afire with pain. Every way he leaps and turns, rushing blindly in the spasms of agony. Like a diver, now he runs over the deep waves like a whirlwind, now he plunges to the nether deeps; and often he springs up and leaps above the foam of the sea, if haply the bold swarm of overweening fishes may let him go. But they, relentless, no wise abate their violence but cling to him all the same; when he dives, they dive along with him; when he leaps up again, they likewise spring forth from the sea in his train.
§ 2.594 You would say that the Shaker of the Earth had gotten a new and monstrous birth, half Dolphin and half Amia; so grievous the bond of teeth wherewith he is bound. As when a cunning physician drains a swollen wound, within which is gathered much unwholesome blood, and he applies to the flesh of the sufferer the watery brood, the dark-hued reptiles of the marsh, to feast on his black blood; and straightway they become arched and rounded and draw the filth and abate not until having drained the strong drink of blood they roll of themselves from flesh and fall like drunken men; even so the fury of the Amia abates not until they have devoured with the mouth the flesh which they once seized. But when they leave him and the Dolphin gets a breathing-space from toil, then shalt thou behold the rage of the angry lord of fishes and deadly doom appears for the Amia. They flee; and he behind working havoc, like hurricane of evil noise, lays all waste, devouring them incontinently, and with ravening jaws reddens the sea with blood; and he avenges the despite that he suffered. Even so in the woods, as hunters tell, the terrible Jackals gather and busy themselves about a Stag; they rush upon him and rend his flesh with their jaws and lap the warm gore of new-shed blood: the Stag bellowing in his bloody pain, full of deadly wounds, bounds now to this mountain-crag, now to that, but the ravenous beasts leave him not but always follow him close, and rend him alive and tear off his hide before he finds death, making a black and woeful banquet. But while the shameless Jackals pay no requital but laugh loud over the dead Stags, the bold Amia soon fight a less happy fight.
§ 2.628 This other excellent deed of the Dolphins have I heard and admire. When fell disease and fatal draws nigh to them, they fail not to know it but are aware of the end of life. Then they flee the sea and the wide waters of the deep and come aground on the shallow shores. And there they give up their breath and receive their doom upon the land; that so perchance some mortal man may take pity on the holy messenger of the Shaker of the Earth when he lies low, and cover him with mound of shingle, remembering his gentle friendship; or haply the seething sea herself may hide his body in the sands; nor any of the brood of the sea behold the corse of their lord, nor any foe do despite to his body even in death. Excellence and majesty attend them even when they perish, nor do they shame their glory even when they die.
§ 2.642 The Grey Mullet, I hear, among all the fishes of the sea nurses the gentlest and most righteous mind. For only the kindly Grey Mullets harm neither one of their own kind nor any of another race. Nor do they touch with their lips fleshly food nor drink blood, but feed harmlessly, unstained of blood and doing no hurt, a holy race. Either upon the green seaweed they feed or on mere mud, and lick the bodies one of the other. Wherefore also among fishes they have honourable regard and none harms their young brood, as they do that of others, but refrain the violence of their ravenous teeth. Thus always and among all reverend Justice hath her privilege appointed and everywhere she wins her meed of honour. But all pother fishes come fraught with destruction to one another; wherefore also thou shalt never see fishes sleeping but evermore awake and sleepless are their eyes and wits, since always they dread the encounter of a stronger and slay the weaker. Only the tender Parrot-wrasse, as fishermen say, never falls into their nets in the darkness but doubtless sleeps by night in the hollow ocean caves.
§ 2.664 Yet it is no marvel that Justice should dwell apart from the sea. For not long since that first of goddesses had no throne even among men, but noisy riots and raging ruin of destroying Wars and Strife, giver of pain, nurse of tearful wars, consumed the unhappy race of the creatures of a day. Nor different at all from wild beasts were many among men; but, more terrible than Lions, well-builded towers and halls and fragrant temples of the deathless gods they clothed with the blood of men and dark smoke of Hephaestus: until the Son of Cronus took pity on the afflicted race and bestowed upon you, the Sons of Aeneas, the earth for keeping.
§ 2.676 Yet even among the earlier kings of the Ausonians War still raged, arming Celts and proud Iberians and the great space of Libya and the lands of the Rhine and Ister and Euphrates. Wherefore need I mention those works of the spear? For now, O Justice, nurse of cities, I know thee to share the hearth and home of men, ever since they hold sway together, mounted on their mighty throne — the wondrous Sire and his splendid scion: by whose rule a sweet haven is opened for me. Them, I pray, O Zeus and ye Sons of Heaven, the choir of Zeus, may ye keep and direct unfailingly through many tens of the revolving years, if there be any reward of piety, and to their sceptre bring the fulness of felicity.
§ 3.1 Book III
Come now, O Wielder of the Sceptre, mark thou the cunning devices of the fisher's art and his adventures in the hunting of his prey, and learn the law of the sea and take delight in my lay. For under they sceptre rolls the sea and the tribes of the haunts of Poseidon, and for thee are all deeds done among men. For thee the gods have raised me up to be thy joy and thy minstrel among the Cilicians beside the shrine of Hermes. And, O Hermes, god of my fathers, most excellent of the children of the Aegis-bearer, subtlest mind among the deathless gods, do thou enlighten and guide and lead, directing me to the goal of my song. The counsels of fishermen excellent in wit thou didst thyself, O Lord, first devise and didst reveal the sum of all manner of hunting, weaving doom for fishes. And thou didst deliver the art of the deep for keeping to Pan of Corycus, thy son, who, they say, was the saviour of Zeus — the saviour of Zeus but the slayer of Typhon. For he tricked terrible Typhon with promise of a banquet of fish and beguiled him to issue forth from his spacious pit and come to the shore of the sea, where the swift lightning and the rushing fiery thunderbolts laid him low; and, blazing in the rain of fire, he beat his hundred heads upon the rocks whereon he was carded all about like wool. And even now the yellow banks by the sea are red with the blood of the Typhonian battle. O Hermes, glorious in counsel, thee especially do fishermen worship. Therefore invoking thee with the gods who aid their hunt I pursue the glorious song of their chase.
§ 3.29 First of all the fisher should have body and limbs both swift and strong, neither over fat nor lacking in flesh. For often he must fight with mighty fish in landing them — which have exceeding strength so long as they circle and wheel in the arms of their mother sea. And lightly he must leap from a rock; and, when the toil of the sea is at its height, he must swiftly travel a long way and dive into the deepest depths and abide amongst the waves and remain labouring at such works as men upon the sea toil at with enduring heart. Cunning of wit too and wise should the fisher be, since many and various are the devices that fishes contrive, when they chance upon unthought-of snares. Daring also should he be and dauntless and temperate and he must not love satiety of sleep but must be keen of sight, wakeful of heart and open-eyed. He must bear well the wintry weather and the thirsty season of Sirius; he must be fond of labour and must love the sea. So shall he be successful in his fishing and dear to Hermes.
§ 3.50 In the autumn season fishing is best in the evening and when the morning-star rises. In winter the fisher should set out with the spreading rays of the sun. In bloomy spring the whole day is prosperous in all manner of fishing, what time all fishes are drawn to haunt the coasts near the land by the travail of birth and the thirst of desire. Look always for a wind that blows gentle and fair, lightly rolling a tranquil sea. For fishes fear and loathe violent winds and will not wheel over the sea, but with a temperate wind fishing is exceedingly favourable. All the fishes that swim the sea speed against wind and wave, since this is the easier way for them in their march toward the shores, and they do not suffer through being driven forcefully by the current. But when the fisher puts to sea let him set his sail with the wind — Northward when the wet South Wind blows; Southward when the North Wind drives the sea; when the East Wind rises, towards the paths of the West Wind; towards the East let the West Wind bear his vessel; for so will infinite shoals meet him and his fishing will be blest with luck.
§ 3.72 Fourfold modes of hunting their prey in the sea have fishermen devised. Some delight in Hooks; and of these some fish with a well-twisted line of horse-hair fastened to long reeds, others simply cast a flaxen cord attached to their hands, another rejoices in landed lines or in line with many hooks. Others prefer to array Nets; and of these there are those called casting-nets, and those called draw-nets — drag-nets and round bag-nets and seines. Others they call cover-nets, and, with the seines, there are those called ground-nets and ball-nets and the crooked trawl: innumerable are the various sorts of such crafty-bosomed Nets. Others again have their minds set rather upon Weels which bring joy to their masters while they sleep at ease, and great gain attends on little toil. Others with the long pronged Trident wound the fish from land or from a ship as they will. The due measure and right ordering of all these they know certainly who contrive these things.
§ 3.90 Fishes, it seems, not only against one another employ cunning wit and deceitful craft but often also they deceive even the wise fishermen themselves and escape from the might of hooks and from the belly of the trawl when already caught in them, and outrun the wits of men, outdoing them in craft, and become a grief to fishermen.
The Grey Mullet, when caught in the plaited arms of the net, is not ignorant of the encircling snare, but leaps up, eager to reach the surface of the water, hasting with all his might to spring straight up with nimble leap, and fails not of his wise purpose. For often he lightly overleaps in his rush the utmost bounds of the corks and escapes from doom. But if at his first upward rush he slips back again into net, he makes no further effort and leaps no more in his grief but taught by trial, ceases from his endeavours. As when a man, long distressed by painful disease, at first, in his yearning and desire for life, obeys the physicians and does all things that they bid him; but when the unescapable fates of death prevail, he cares no more for life but lies stretched out, giving over to death his exhausted limbs, beholding already at hand the final day of fate; even so the Grey Mullet knows what manner of end is come upon him and lies prone, awaiting doom from his captor.
§ 3.117 The Muraena, when they are caught in the net, circle about in the enclosure seeking for a wider mesh and through it making their way, after the manner of snakes, with slippery limbs they all escape.
The Basse digs with its fins in the sand a trench large enough to admit its body and lays itself therein as in a bed. And the fishermen bring down to the shore a net but the Basses by simply lying in the mud gladly avoids them and escapes the net of destruction.
A like device is practised by the Mormyrus: when it perceives that it has fallen into the net, it hides in the sands.
The Basse, when smitten by the point of the bent hook, leaps on high and incessantly presses its head violently on the line itself, till the wound becomes wider and it escapes destruction.
The mighty Orcynus employ a similar device. For when they have seized the jaw of the guileful hook, swiftly they strain and rush to the nether depths, putting pressure on the hand of the fisher; and if they reach the bottom, straightway they beat their head against the ground and tear open the wound and spit out the barb.
§ 3.138 But when giant fishes swallow the landed hooks — such as the tribes of the Ox-ray and the Sea-sheep and the Skate or the sluggish race of the Hake — they will not yield to it but throwing their flat bodies in the sands they put all their weight upon the line and cause trouble to the fishermen, and often they get free from the hook and escape.
The swift Amia and the Fox-sharks, when they are hooked, straightway hasten upward to forestall the fisher and speedily bite through with their teeth the middle of the line or the extreme hairs. Therefore for them the fishermen forge a longer socket on the hook, as a protection against their teeth.
The Cramp-fish, moreover, forgets not its cunning in the pain of being struck, but straining in its agony it puts its flanks against the line, and straightway through the horse-hair and through the rod runs the pain which gives the fish its name and lights in the right hand of the fisher; and often the rod and the fishing-tackle escape from his palm. Such icy numbness straightway settles in his hand.
§ 3.156 The Cuttle-fishes again practise this craft. They have seated in their heads a dark muddy fluid blacker than pitch, a mysterious drug causing a watery cloud, which is their natural defence against destruction. When fear seizes them, immediately they discharge the dusky drops thereof and the cloudy fluid stains and obscures all around the paths of the sea and ruins all the view; and they straightway through the turbid waters easily escape man or haply mightier fish.
A like craft is practised also by the air-travelling tribes of the Calamary. Only their fluid is not black but reddish, but the device which they employ is altogether similar.
§ 3.165 Such are the cunning devices of fishes; yet notwithstanding they perish by the subtle wiles of fishermen. Those which run in the sheer depths of the sea the fishers capture easily, since they possess no subtle craft. For ere now one has caught and landed a deep-sea fish with onions or with bare hooks. Those on the other hand which range near the sea-girding land have sharper wits; yet even of these the small fishes are caught with the feeble Prawn: they swallow tentacled Poulpe or Crab or tiny Hermit-crabs or bait of salted flesh or rock-haunting Worms or anything of the fishy kind that may be at hand. The small fish thou shouldst use as bait for the larger; for rejoicing in the banquet they speed their own destruction; gluttonous verily always is the race of the swimming tribes that roam the water. The Crow-fish attracts the Tunny, the fat Prawn attracts the Basse, the Channus is a bait beloved of the Braize, as the Bogue is to the Dentex and the Rainbow-wrasse to the Hippurus; the Red Mullet slays the Merou, the Perch catches the Cirrhis, the Gilt-head is landed by the Maenis; while the baleful Muraena haste after the flesh of the Poulpe. As for those fishes which are of enormous size, the Beauty-fish delights in the Tunny, the Orcynus in the Oniscus; while for the Anthias thou shouldst array the Basse, the Hippurus for the Swordfish, and for the Glaucus thou shouldst impale the Grey Mullet. To entrap pother fish employ other breeds, the weaker as bait for the stronger; since verily all fishes are welcome food to one another and gluttonous destruction. So true it is that naught is deadlier than hunger and the grievous belly, which bears harsh sway among men and is a stern mistress to dwell with: who never forgets her tribute and who misleads the wits of many and casts them into ruin and binds them fast to shame. The belly bears sway over wild beasts and over reptiles and over the flocks of the air, but it has its greatest power among fishes; for them evermore the belly proves their doom.
§ 3.205 Hear first the cunning mode of taking the Anthias which is practised by the inhabitants of our glorious fatherland above the promontory of Sarpedon, those who dwell in the city of Hermes, the town of Corycus, famous for ships, and in sea-girt Eleusa. A skilful man observes those rocks near the land, under which the Anthias dwell: caverned rocks, cleft with many a covert. Sailing up in his boat he makes a loud noise by striking planks together; and the heart of the Anthias rejoices in the din, and one haply rises presently from the sea, gazing at the boat and the man. Then the fisher straightway lets down into the waves the ready bait of Perch or Crowfish, offering a first meal of hospitality. The fish rejoices and greedily feasts on the welcome banquet and fawns upon the crafty fisherman. As to the house of a hospitable man there comes one famous for his deeds of hand or head, and his host is glad to see him at his hearth and entreats him well with gifts and feast and all manner of loving-kindness; and at the table both rejoice and take their pleasure in pledging cup for cup; even so the fisher rejoices in hope and smiles while the fish delights in new banquets. Thenceforward the fisherman journeys to the rock every day and relaxes not his labour and ceases not to bring food. And straightway the Anthias gather all together in the place to feast, as if a summoner brought them. Always for more and readier fishes he provides the coveted food, and they have no thought of other paths or other retreats, but there they remain and linger, even as in the winter days the flocks abide in the steadings of the shepherds and care not to go forth even a little from the fold. And when fishes descry the boat that feeds them starting from the land and speeding with the oars, immediately they are all alert and gaily they wheel over the sea, sporting delightfully, and go to meet their nurse.
§ 3.243 As when the mother Swallow, the bird that first heralds the West Wind of Spring, brings food to her unfledged nestlings and they with soft cheeping leap for joy about their mother in the nest and open their beaks in their desire for food, and all the house of some hospitable man resounds with the shrill crying of the mother bird; even so the fishes leap joyfully to meet their feeder as he comes, even as in the circle of a dance. And the fisherman fattening them with dainty after dainty and with his hand stroking them and proffering them his gifts from his hand, tames their friendly heart, and anon they obey him like a master, and wheresoever he indicates with his finger, there they swiftly rush. Now behind the boat, now in front, now landward he points his hand; and thou shalt see them, like boys in a place of wrestling, according to the wisdom of a man, rushing this way or that as their master bids. But when he has tended them enough and bethinks him of taking them, then he seats himself with a line in his left hand and fits thereto a hook, strong and sharp. Then all the fishes alike he turns away, commanding them with his hand, or he takes a stone and casts it in the water, and they dive after it, thinking to be food. One picked fish alone he leaves, whichsoever he will — unhappy fish, rejoicing in a banquet which is to be its last. Then he reaches down the hook over the sea and the fish swiftly seizes its doom; and the bold fisher draws it in with both hands, winning a speedy prey by his cunning. And he avoids the notice of the rest of the company of Anthias; for if they see or hear the din of the unhappy victim being landed, then the fisher will never more have banquets enough to tempt the fishes to return, but they spurn with loathing both his attentions and the place of destruction. But the fisher should be a powerful man and land his fish by force of strength or else a second man should lend a hand in his labour. For so, unwitting of their crafty doom, fattened themselves they fitly fatten others; and always when thou wilt, successful fishing shall be thine.
§ 3.281 Others trust in their valiant might and strength of limb when they array the great adventure against the Anthias, not cultivating friendship nor proffering food but having recourse at once to the pointed hook and overcoming the fish by their valour. The hook is fashioned of hard bronze or iron, and two separate barbs are attached to the great rope of twisted flax. On it they fix a live Basse — if a live one be at hand; but if it be a dead one, speedily one puts in its mouth a piece of lead, which they call a dolphin; and the fish, under the weight of the lead, moves his head to and fro, as if alive. The line is strong and well-woven. When the Anthias hear the noise and leap from the sea, then some attend to the labour of the oar, while the fisherman from the stern-end lets down the crooked snare into the sea, gently waving it about. And the fishes all straightway follow the ship and seeing before their eyes what seems to be a fleeing fish, they rush in haste after the banquet, each striving to outstrip the other: thou wouldst say it was a foeman plying swift knees in pursuit of a routed foe: and they are eager for goodly victory. Now whichever fish the fisher sees to be best, to it he offers the banquet, and with eager gape it rushes after the gift that is no gift. Thereupon thou shalt see the valour of both, such a struggle there is as man and captive fish contend. His strong arms and brows and shoulders and the sinews of his neck and ankles swell with might and strain with valour; while the fish, chafing with pain, makes a fight, pulling against the pulling fisher, striving to dive into the sea, raging incontinently.
§ 3.311 Then the fisher bids his comrades plunge in their oars; and as the ship speeds forward, he on the stern is dragged bodily backward by the rush of the fish, and the line whistles, and the blood drips from his torn hand. But he relaxes not the grievous contest. As two keen men of mighty valour stretch their grasp about one another and endeavour each to pull the other, hauling with backward strain; and long time both, enduring equal measure of toil, pull might and main and are pulled; even so between those, the fisher and the fish, strife arises, the one eager to rush away, the other eager to pull him in. Nor do the other Anthias fishes desert the captive in his agony but are fain to help him and violently hurl their backs against him and fall each one upon him, foolishly, and know not that they are afflicting their comrade. Often also when they are fain to tear through the line with their jaws, they are helpless, since their mouth is unarmed. At last when the fish is weary with labour and pain and the quick rowing, the man overpowers him and pulls him in. But if the fisher yield to him even a little, he cannot pull him in — so tremendous is his strength. Often he tears and cuts the line on his sharp spine and rushes away, leaving the fisherman empty-handed. A like strength is possessed by the Beauty-fish and the race of the Orcynus and others of monstrous body that roam the deep; and even by such arms are they captured.
§ 3.338 Others the fisherman catches with the wile of food and feast. A good fish will be the Black Sea-bream, which ever rejoices in rough rocks. Plait a round weel as large as may be, fashioning it with Iberian broom or withes and putting staves round it. Let the entrance be smooth and the belly yawning wide. As bait, put within it reptile Poulpe or Crayfish, in either case broiled on the fire; for the savour entices the fishes within. Having thus prepared the plaited deceit, lean it obliquely beside a rock, to be an ambush under the sea. And immediately the odour will rouse the Black Sea-bream and he will come within the weel, not very confident on his first journey, but with all haste he makes his meal and speeds away again. Thereafter the weel-fisher puts in the weel ever fresh pleasant food for them and ill-omened gluttony speedily gathers them within, and one fish brings another comrade to share the banquet. At length without fear they gather all together within the weel and remain sitting therein pall the day, as if they had acquired a house, and an evil nest they find it. As when to the house of a fatherless youth his age-fellows, who study not sobriety, gather all day bidden and unbidden, wasting evermore the possessions of the masterless house, in such practices as foolish young men are incited to by the waywardness of youth, and in their folly find an evil end; even so for the gathered fishes doom stands nigh at hand. For when they become many and fat, then the man puts a well-fitting cover on the mouth of weel and takes captive the fishes huddling within the enclosure and sleeping their last sleep. Too late they perceive their doom and struggle and strive to get out — foolish fishes who find the weel no longer so pleasant a home.
§ 3.371 Against the Admon they prepare in autumn a weel of osiers and moor it in the midst of the waves, fastening to the bottom a bored stone by way of anchor, while corks support the trap above. In it they always put four wet stones from the beach. On the wet stones grows a milky slime of the sea, desire for which attracts the wretched little fishes, a greedy race, which gather and rush to the weel and remain in its embrace. The Admon, seeing them gathered within the hollow retreat, all speedily rush upon them, eager for a feast. But them they do not overtake: they easily slip away: but the Admon are nowise able, for all their endeavour, to escape again from the plaited ambush, but, preparing woe for others, they find destruction for themselves. As when some hunter on the hills prepares a trap in the woods for a wild beast and with hard heart ties up a dog, fastening him by a cord about his private parts; the loud howling of the dog in pain travels afar and the wood resounds about him; the Leopard hears and is glad and hastes to track the cry; swiftly she arrives and leaps upon the dog; then a hidden device snatches the dog aloft, while the Leopard rolls headlong in the pit, and has no more thought of feasting but of flight; but for it there is no escape prepared: even such is the fate of the hapless Admon and in place of food they rush upon their fate and the unescapable net of Hades.
§ 3.398 In like fashion for the Shad also and the Pilchard one devises capture in the autumn and so one takes the Larinus and the tribes of the Trachurus. The fisherman weaves compactly a weel of broom and therein puts a cake of parched vetches, moistened with fragrant wine, and mixes therewith the tear of the Assyrian daughter of Theias: who, they say, did a deed of ill contrivance for love of her father and came into his bed, through the anger of Aphrodite; but since the doom of the gods rooted her and the tree that bears her name, she wails and mourns her woeful fate, wetted with tears for the sake of her bed: her holy sap the fisher mingles with the rest and moors his weel in the waves; and swiftly the lily fragrance runs over the sea and summons the herds of various kind; and the fishes moved by the sweet breath obey the call and speedily the weel is filled, bringing to the fisherman a recompense of goodly spoil.
§ 3.414 The Saupes always delight above all things in moist seaweed and by that bait also they are taken. On previous days the fisherman sails to one place and always casts in the waves stones of a handy size, to which he has fastened fresh seaweed. But when the fifth morning sees his toil and the gathered Saupes feed about that place, then he arrays his crafty weel. Within it he casts stones wrapped in seaweed and about the mouth he binds such grasses of the sea as Saupes and other plant-eating fishes delight in. Then the fishes gather and eat the grasses and thereafter speed inside the weel. Straightway the fisher sails swiftly to the spot and pulls up the weel. His work is done silently, the men not speaking and the oars hushed. For silence is profitable in all fishing but above all in the case of the Saupes; since their wits are easily scared and a scare renders vain labour of the fisher.
§ 3.432 No fish, I declare, delights in meaner bait than doth the Red Mullet; for it feeds on all the silt of the sea that it can find and it loves especially evil-smelling food. It delights exceedingly in the rotting bodies of men, when the dolorous sea makes any man its prey. Wherefore fishers easily take them with smelly baits which have a hateful breath. Red Mullets and Swine, I declare, have like habits, wallowing always in filth for the desire of the belly: and the Red Mullets have the same distinction among the finny tribes as Swine have among the herds of the land.
§ 3.443 The Melanurus thou shalt not easily beguile and carry away either with weel or with the encircling net. For the Melanurus among all fishes is eminent at once for cowardice and for prudence, and gluttonous bait is never pleasing to it. Always when the sea is calm it lies in the sands and rises not from brine. But when under stress of violent winds the sea rages and billows, then do the Melanurus alone speed over the sea together, fearing not any man nor any creature of the sea. While all the rest for fear dive to the nether foundations of the sea, the Melanurus haunt the sounding shores or draw to the rocks as they roam in search of any food that the wind-beaten sea may show them. Foolish fishes! which know not how much more cunning are men, who take them captive despite all their endeavour to escape. When the sea boils with stormy flood, a man stands upon a jutting sea-beaten cliff, where the wave bellows loudly on the rocks, and scatters dainties in the breaking waves, even cheese mixed with flour; and the Melanurus rush eagerly upon the welcome food. But when they are gathered together within range of his cast, he himself turns his body aside, that he may not cast his shadow on the water, and the fish be frightened. In his hands he holds ready a thin rod and a thin line of light hair all untwined, whereon are strung numerous light hooks. On these he puts the same bait as before he cast in the water, and lets it down into the deep turmoil of the waves. Seeing it the Melanurus immediately rush upon it and snatch — their own destruction. Nor does the fisher hold his hand at rest, but ever and again draws up his hooks from eddying waters, even if they be often empty. For in the seething sea he cannot mark for certain whether a fish is hooked or whether it is but the waves that shake the line. But when a fish swallows the hook, swiftly he pulls him forth, ere he thinks of guile, ere he cause fright to the feeble Melanurus. In such wise he accomplishes his treacherous fishing in stormy weather.
§ 3.482 Yea, and the Grey Mullet, albeit he is no glutton, they yet deceive by clothing narrow hooks with bait mixed with flour and gifts of curdled milk. Therewith they knead also the sweet-smelling herb of mint. Mint, men say, was once a maid beneath the earth, a Nymph of Cocytus, and she lay in the bed of Aidoneus; but when he raped the maid Persephone from the Aetnaean hill, then she complained loudly with overweening words and raved foolishly for jealousy, and Demeter in anger trampled her with her feet and destroyed her. For she had said that she was nobler of form and more excellent in beauty than dark-eyed Persephone and she boasted that Aidoneus would return to her and banish the other from his halls: such infatuation leapt upon her tongue. And from the earth sprang the weak herb that bears her name. Mint, then, the fishers mingle with the bait which they put upon their hooks. And in no long time the Grey Mullet, when the odour reaches him, first approaches the hook distantly and regards with eyes askance the snare; like to a stranger who, chancing upon much trodden cross-ways, stands pondering, and at one moment his heart is set on going by the left road, at another by the right, and he looks on this side and on that and his mind fluctuates like the wave and only at long last he reaches a single purpose; even so also the spirit of the Grey Mullet ponders variously, now thinking of a snare and now of harmless food. At last his mind impels him and brings him nigh his doom. And immediately he starts back in fear and many times as he touches it, terror seizes him and checks his impulse. As when a little maiden girl, when her mother is abroad, is faint for some eatable or whatever it may be; and to touch it she is afraid for the anger of her mother, yet, unwilling to withdraw, she dares the deed: stealthily she creeps to it and again turns away; now courage, now fear enters her heart; and always her keen eyes are strained watchfully upon the door: even so then the gentle fish approaches and retires. But when he takes heart and draws nigh, not readily does he touch the bait but first lashes with his tail and stirs the hook to see whether haply there is any warm breath in its body; for to eat of aught living is for the Grey Mullet a thing forsworn. Then he nibbles and plucks at the bait with the tip of his mouth; and straightway the fisher strikes and pierces him with the bronze, even as a charioteer constrains a gallant horse by the stern compulsion of the bit, and pulls him up and casts him struggling on the loathed earth.
§ 3.525 The Swordfish also men deceive by deadly hooks. But the doom of the Swordfish is not such as that of the Grey Mullet nor like that of other fishes. For the fishermen do not put bait upon their hooks, but the hook hangs from the line naked and without deceit, furnished with two recurved barbs, while some three palms above it they tie a soft white fish, fastening it skilfully by the tip of its mouth. When the furious Swordfish comes, straightway he rends the body of the fish with his fierce sword, and as the fish is rent, its members slip down from the fastening and are entangled right about the barbs of the hook. But the fish perceives not the crooked guile but swallows the grievous bait and is caught and hauled up by the might of the man.
§ 3.529 Many are the devices which fishers contrive against the Swordfish, and those above all who fish the Tyrrhenian tract of sea and about the holy city of Massalia and in the region of the Celts. For there, wondrous and not at all like fishes, range monster fishes unapproachable. The fishermen fashion boats in the likeness of the Swordfishes themselves, with fishlike body and swords, and steer to meet the fish. The Swordfish shrinks not from the chase, believing that what he sees are not benched ships but other Swordfishes, the same race as himself, until the men encircle him on every side. Afterwards he perceives his folly when pierced by the three-pronged spear; and he has no strength to escape for all his desire but perforce is overcome. Many a time as he fights the valiant fish with his sword pierces in his turn right through the belly of the ship; and the fishers with blows of brazen axe swiftly strike all his sword from his jaws, and it remains fast in the ship's wound like a rivet, while fish, orphaned of his strength, is hauled in. As when men devising a trick of war against their foes, being eager to come within their towers and city, strip the armour from the bodies of the slain and arm themselves therewith and rush nigh the gates; and the others fling open their gates as for their own townsmen in their haste, and have no joy of their friends; even so do boats in his own likeness deceive the Swordfish.
§ 3.567 Moreover, when encircled in the crooked arms of the net the greatly stupid Swordfish perishes by his own folly. He leaps in his desire to escape but near at hand he is afraid of the plaited snare and shrinks back again and forgetteth what manner of weapon is set in his jaws and like a coward remains aghast till they hale him forth upon the beach, where with downward-sweeping blow of many spears men crush his head, and he perishes by a foolish doom.
§ 3.595 Folly slays also the Mackerel and the fat Tunny and the Needle-fishes and the tribes of the wide-spread Dentex. The Mackerels, when they see others crouching in the net, are fain to enter the many-meshed snare of destruction — such delight possesses them when they behold: like untried children who, when they see the bright flashing of blazing fire, rejoice in its rays and are fain to touch it and stretch a childish hand into the flame, and speedily the fire proves unkind; even so the Mackerels are fain to rush within the covert of the ambush whence there is no return and find their fondness fatal. Then some land in the wider meshes and leap out, but others, penned in the narrower openings, suffer a bitter fate by strangling. When the net is hauled ashore, thou shalt see them in multitudes on either side fixed as with nails, some still minded to enter the net of destruction, others already eager to escape from their evil plight, held fast within dripping nets.
§ 3.576 The Tunnies again suffer like affliction with the Mackerel by their foolishness. For they also are possessed by a similar fatal desire to come within the loins of the crafty net; they do not however essay to enter the belly of the net under water but assail it with their crooked teeth, devising to make a passage sufficient for their body. The wet net becomes stretched about their infixed teeth and they have no means of escape, but labouring under the entanglement about their mouth they are haled to the land, taken by their own witlessness.
Such also is the counsel of the Needle-fishes. These when they have escaped the bosom of the net and are gotten free from trouble, turn again and in their anger fix their teeth in the net; and it enters into their mouths and holds fast the close-set teeth within.
§ 3.610 The Dentex travel in separate bands, like companies of soldiers. When a man lets down a hook for them, they stand aloof and all bend sidelong looks on one another and are unwilling to approach. But when one leaps forth from another rank and swiftly seizes the bait, then also one of them takes courage in his heart and draws nigh to the hook and is haled in. The Dentex, eyeing one another and delighting in their banquet, rejoice even while they are being caught, and they vie with one another as to which shall die first, like children exulting in their sports.
§ 3.620 The breed of Tunnies comes from the spacious Ocean, and they travel into the regions of our sea when they lust after the frenzy of mating in the spring. First the Iberians who plume themselves upon their might capture them within the Iberian brine; next by the mouth of the Rhone the Celts and the ancient inhabitants of Phocaea hunt them; and thirdly those who are dwellers in the Trinacrian isle and by the waves of the Tyrrhenian sea. Thence in the unmeasured deeps they scatter this way or that and travel over all the sea. Abundant and wondrous is the spoil for fishermen when the host of Tunnies set forth in spring. First of all the fishers mark a place in the sea which is neither too straitened under beetling banks nor too open to the winds, but has due measure of open sky and shady coverts. There first a skilful Tunny-watcher ascends a steep high hill, who remarks the various shoals, their kind and size, and informs his comrades. Then straightway all the nets are set forth in the waves like a city, and the net has its gate-warders and gates withal and inner courts. And swiftly the Tunnies speed on in line, like ranks of men marching tribe by tribe — these younger, those older, those in the mid season of their age. Without end they pour within the nets, so long as they desire and as the net can receive the throng of them; and rich and secret is the spoil.
§ 4.1 Book IV
Other fishes doth tender love make for fishermen the spoil of their chase, and fatal mating they find and fatal their passion, hastening their own ruin through desire. But do thou, I pray thee, mightiest of kings who have cities in their keeping, both thyself, O Antoninus and thy son of noble heart, graciously give ear and take pleasure in these delights of the sea wherewith the kindly Muses have furnished forth my mind and have crowned me with the gift divine of song and given me to mix a sweet draught for your ears and for your mind.
§ 4.11 O cruel Love, crafty of counsel, of all gods fairest to behold with the eyes, of all most grievous when thou dost vex the heart with unforeseen assault, entering the soul like a storm-wind and breathing the bitter menace of fire, with hurricane of anguish and untempered pain. The shedding of tears is for thee a sweet delight and to hear the deep-wrung groan; to inflame a burning redness in the heart and to blight and wither the bloom upon the cheek, to make the eyes hollow and to wrest all the mind to madness. Many thou dost even roll to doom, even those whom thou meetest in wild and wintry sort, fraught with frenzy; for in such festivals is thy delight. Whether then thou art the eldest-born among blessed gods and from unsmiling Chaos didst arise with fierce and flaming torch and didst first establish the ordinances of wedded love and order the rites of the marriage-bed; or whether Aphrodite of many counsels, queen of Paphos, bare thee a winged god on soaring pinions, be thou gracious and to us come gentle and with fair weather and in tempered measure; for none refuses the work of Love. Everywhere thou bearest sway and everywhere thou art desired at once and greatly feared; and happy is he who cherishes and guards in his breast a temperate Love. Nor doth the race of Heaven suffice thee nor the breed of men; thou rejectest not the wild beasts nor all the brood of the barren air; under the coverts of the nether deep dost thou descend and even among the finny tribes thou dost array thy darkling shafts; that naught may be left ignorant of thy compelling power, not even the fish that swims beneath the waters.
§ 4.40 Behold what love for one another and keen desire do the spotted Parrot-wrasses entertain and in trouble forsake not one another but in a spirit of helpfulness, many a time, when one Parrot-wrasse is struck by the deadly hook, another rushes to his defence and cutting through the line with his teeth rescues his comrade and destroys the snare and grieves the fisherman. And ere now, when a Parrot-wrasse has been taken in the plaited weel, another has stolen him away and saved him from destruction. For when the dappled fish falls into the ambush of the weel, immediately he perceives it and tries to escape from his evil plight. Turning down his head and eyes he swims back tailwards along the barrier, for he dreads the sharp rushes which bristle around the entrance and as he comes against them wound his eyes, even as if they were warders of the gate. The others, seeing him wheeling about helplessly, come from the outside to his aid and leave him not in his distress. And someone of them, I ween, reaches his tail through the weel like a hand for his comrade inside to grasp; and he seizes it in his teeth and the other pulls him forth from death, while he holds in his mouth the guiding tail as a chain. Often too the fish that is caught in the weel puts forth his own tail and another grasps it and pulls him forth in its train. By such devices do they escape doom. As when under the darkness of shadowy night men climb a rugged hill, when the moon is hidden and the curtains of the clouds are dark: they labour sorely, wandering in gloom and untrodden ways, and hold each the other's hands and pull and are pulled, a helpful exchange of toil; even so those fishes help each other in mutual love. But just this devises destruction for the poor fishes and fatal and sorrowful they find their love when they are destroyed by the craft of fishermen. Four fishers embark on a swift boat, of whom two attend to the labour of the oar while the third weaves a crafty device. Fastening a female Parrot-wrasse by the tip of the mouth he drags it along in the waves by a flaxen cord. A live fish it is best to tow: but if she be dead, then she receives in her mouth
§ 4.81 the contrivance of a leaden dolphin. On the other side of the line another rounded heavy cube of lead is hung at the end of the cord. The dead female trailing in the waves like a living fish is haled along by the fisherman. A fourth fisher tows near at hand a deep ensnaring weel facing towards the fish. The spotted Parrot-wrasses when they see the trailing female rush all together in eager haste to rescue her and throng all about the decoy, impelled by the goad of frenzied desire. The men with their oars urge on the boat with all their might, while the fishes follow eagerly: and soon it proves their last attempt to paid. For when the wit of the fisher perceives them thronging and raging incontinently in their lust after the female, he puts in the weel line and lead together and the weight of the lead pulls the female Parrot-wrasse within. Then the males together, soon as they see it, so soon they rush in emulous haste, speeding to the plaited net of death and with their eager troops the withy vestibule and grievous mouth of the gates are straitened: such goads of passion urge them on. As men who engage in the contest of the footrace dart swiftly from the line and forward and ever forward strain their speedy limbs and haste to accomplish the long course; and the desire of every man is to reach the goal and to win the sweet triumph of victory and dash within the lists and crown them with the athletic prize: even so doth like passion lead those fishes to the house of Hades — to rush within the coverts of an ambush whence there is no return. And, with their fatal and final madness of desire, of their own motion they fulfil the fishermen's desire of spoil.
§ 4.110 Others again put a living female within the dark weel and place it under those rocks which the milky Parrot-wrasse affects. Beguiled by the amorous breath of love the Wrasses gather around and lick about and search everywhere to find the entrance of the weel. And speedily they come upon the entry — wide, but with a fence beyond escape — and they rush in altogether in a crowd and there is no means of getting out, but they find a hateful issue to their desires. Even as one who devises a guileful doom for birds hides in a dense thicket a female bird, his tame companion in hunting birds of the same cry; and she shrilly pipes her sweet song, and the birds, hearing, all hasten towards her and rush of themselves into the snare, misled by the call of the female cry: like unto them the Parrot-wrasses rush into the belly of the weel.
§ 4.127 A like doom does love bring upon the Grey Mullets (Cephalus); for they also are beguiled by a female trailed in the waves. She should be in good condition and fat of limb. For so, when they behold her, they gather around in countless numbers and wondrously overcome by her beauty they will not leave her but everywhere the spells of desire lead them charmed, yea even wert thou to draw forth the female snare from the water and lead them to the unfriendly dry land: they follow in a body, and heed neither fraud nor fishermen. But even as youths when they remark the face of a woman exceeding fair first gaze at her from afar, admiring her lovely form, and thereafter they draw near and, forgetting all, walk no more in their former ways but follow her with delight, beguiled by the sweet spells of Aphrodite: even so shalt thou behold the humid crowd of the Mullets passionately thronging. But swiftly with them love turns to hate; for speedily the fisher lifts the well-wrought net and spreads its lap and takes spoil unspeakable, easily enveloping the fishes in the embrace of the meshes.
§ 4.145 The Cuttle-fishes, again, of unhappy passion run to a greater height of infatuation. For them neither deadly weel nor encircling net do the toilsome fishers of the sea set but merely trail in the waves a single female attached to a line. The Cuttle-fishes, when they behold it from afar, speedily come to meet it and twine about it and cling to it with their arms: even as maidens cling about brother or kindly father whom after many days they see returned safe to his own halls from a foreign land, or as a maid that is newly taken captive in the yoke of wedded love, the pleasant bond of marriage, embraces her bridegroom and all night long twines about his neck the bondage of her snowy arms: even so in that hour the crafty Cuttle-fishes twine about one another and the work of their passion abates not until the fishermen draw them forth upon the boat. And still they cling and with desire take death.
§ 4.147 The Cuttle-fishes, indeed, men also beguile with weels in the spring season. The weels they cover with branches of tamarisk or green leaves of arbutus or other foliage and place them on the sandy beaches. And the Cuttle-fishes in their desire for breeding and mating hasten within the weel and settle amid the foliage and there cease from their desire and cease also from their wretched life, being haled up by the cunning fishermen.
§ 4.172 Beyond all the finny brood the Merle-wrasse endures a sorrowful love and it is for the Thrush-wrasse that he burns his heart, raging with frenzy and with jealousy, that grievous god. The Merle has neither one marriage-bed nor one bride nor one bridal chamber, but many are his spouses and many separate clefts hide the home and bed of his wives. Therein evermore the Thrushes dwell all day in their hollow retreats, like newly wedded brides, whom one would never see coming forth from their chamber; but nuptial shame burns in their hearts; even so the Thrushes always abide retired each one within her chamber, wherever her husband himself commands. The Merle, on the other hand, sits by upon the rocks and never leaves them, ever keeping watch over his bed, and he never turns otherwhere but all day wheels about, now looking to this chamber, now to that. And his mind is not set upon foraging nor has he any other business, but in unhappy jealousy keeps his tedious and eternal vigil over his brides; only at night he takes thought of food and rests for as short a space as may be from the labour of his ceaseless watch. But when the Thrushes are in the travail of birth, then incontinently he rushes fluttering around and visits now one wife, now another, as if he were greatly anxious for the issue of their travail. Even as a mother is distraught with the burden of her heart when she trembles for the sharp pain of her only daughter in travail of her first child: for that is the great dread of women:
§ 4.198 and on herself no less comes the wave of the pangs of Eileithyia and she roams everywhere throughout the halls, praying and groaning in suspense of heart, until she hears from within the cry that delivers from pain: even so the Merle, trembling for his wives, burns greatly in his heart. Such a custom methinks of marriage I hear that the Assyrians practise, who have their cities beyond the Tigris stream and the inhabitants of Bactra, a nation of archers. For them also several different wives deal with the marriage-bed and night about all share the nuptial couch. And the goad of grievous jealousy haunts them and by jealousy they perish, ever one against another whetting bitter war. So true it is that no more evil bane waxes among men than jealousy, which causes much groaning and much lamentation. Jealousy is the companion of shameless madness and with madness it gladly consorts and dances into grievous infatuation; and the end thereof is destruction. Jealousy too it is that leads the unhappy Merle to be the victim of infatuation and a bitter requital he finds for his many brides. For when the fisherman perceives him wheeling upon the rocks in trouble about his wives, with all speed he puts upon a strong hook a live Prawn and above the hook is hung a heavy cube of lead. And stealthily he launches his deadly snare beside the rocks and dangles it near the very bridal chambers of the Merle. He espies it and is straightway roused and charges, thinking that the Prawn is coming within his halls with hostile intent to beds and brides. Straightway rushing he thinks to avenge with his jaws the invasion of the Prawn, and perceives not that he is swallowing his own doom. The fisher watching him straightway strikes home and transfixes him with his barbs of bronze, and hales him forth indignant and writhing in his last struggle, and haply he chides with such mocking words as these: Now then, now watch and guard thy wives, wretched fish, and abide at home rejoicing in thy brides! for one love and one bed did not content thee, but thou didst glory, a single husband, in so many. Nay, come hither, bridegroom, thy bride is ready — the blaze of landward fire wreathed with white. So haply he rebukes him, albeit speaking to deaf ears. But the Thrushes, when their guardian husband dies, wander forth from their chambers and share his doom.
§ 4.240 Moreover, through love and mutual help perish also the Galeus Dogfishes and the tribes of the dark Spiny Dogfishes; a white fish is bound upon the hook and the fisherman goes where the dark mud lies long fathoms deep and lets down his hook and swiftly some fish meets it and seizes his doom. And he is straightway pulled in and the others perceiving it all follow close in a body, until they come right to the boat and the fishermen. Then one may take them — some with the curving circle of the bag-net, some with downward-sweeping blows of the iron trident or by other devices. For they do not turn to flee while they see their comrade being haled, but wish to perish with him. Even as when parents convey from the house to the tearful tomb the body of their newly slain boy — their only son for whom they have laboured much and vainly — and tearing their cheeks for grief they bewail their child and cling to the grave and are unwilling to return home but rather would die with the lamented dead: even so the fishes will not leave the captured fish till they die the same death at the hands of the fishers.
§ 4.264 Others are taken by a passion strange and not native to the brine, which wakes in fishes a landward frenzy foreign to the sea: such as the alien love whose shaft smites Poulpes and the race of the Sargues which companion with the rocks. The Poulpes indeed love the trees of Athena and have caught a passion for the grey-green foliage. Verily it is a great marvel that their mind should be drawn by desire for a tree and delight in the branches of the oily plant. For wherever there is near the sea an olive of splendid fruit, which flourishes on a shoreward slope neighbouring the sea, thither is the mind of the Poulpe drawn, even as to the track the spirit of the keen-scented Cnosian dog, which on the hills searches out the crooked path of the wild beast and tracks it by the unerring guidance of the nose and swiftly seizes it and fails not of its prey but brings it to its master: even so the Poulpe straightway knows that a blooming olive is near at hand, and he comes forth from the deep and crawls upon the land exulting and draws nigh to the trunk of Athena's tree. Then first he coils and twines about the base of the trunk exulting, even as a boy who welcomes his nurse when she is newly come forth and clings about her and lifts his hands to her bosom, fain to put his arms about her neck and shoulders; even so the Poulpe twines about the trunk, rejoicing in the tree. Thereafter he lays hold with the tops of his suckers and crawls up eagerly and clings about the foliage, grasping now one branch, now another, even as a man who has come home from a foreign land greets his friends who throng to meet him and falls upon their necks; or as the twining ivy tendril clings about the tall fir-trees and, reaching forth from the root, climbs upwards and overruns the branches everywhere: so does the Poulpe joyfully embrace the sleek branches of the olive and seems to kiss them. But when he has relieved his desire, he crawls back again to the bosom of the sea, having satisfied his love and longing for the olive. The snare of this same love is his undoing, as fishermen know. For they bind together branches of the olive as goodly as may be and put in the midst thereof the lead, and tow them from the boat. The Poulpe, when he remarks it, is not unheeding but rushes to embrace his branchy comrades. And not even when he is being haled to capture does he relax the bonds of desire, till he is within the boat, nor even while he perishes does he hate the olive.
§ 4.308 The Sargues have their hearts possessed by affection for Goats. Goats they yearn for and they rejoice exceedingly in the mountain-dwelling beasts, even though they belong themselves to the sea. Surely it is a marvel beyond expectation that mountain-crags and the flashing sea should give birth to tribes that are of one mind together. For when the goatherds bring their bleating flocks to the shore, to bathe in the eddying waves at noontide, at the season when the hot Olympian star arises, then the Sargues, hearing the bleating on the shore and the deep murmur of the herds, rush all together in haste, sluggish though they be, and leap joyfully on the terraces by the sea and fawn upon the horned company and lick them and crowd about them with many a gambol; and amazement seizes herdsmen that learn it for the first time. The goats receive the friendly choir not unwillingly and the Sargues know no satiety of joy. No, not so much in the roofed steadings of the herdsmen do the kids exult about their mothers when they receive them home from pasture with great and joyful welcome, while all the place around rings with the glad cries of the little things, and the heart of the herdsmen smiles, as those Sargues fuss about the horned herds. And when these have had their fill of bathing in the sea, and go back to their folds, then in sorrow do all the Sargues together attend them closely to where the laughter of the utmost wave skirts the land.
§ 4.335 As when a sorrowing mother speeds her only son, or wife her husband, on his journey to a foreign land afar, and her heart is distraught within her: so wide the waters of the sea that shall lie between, so many the circles of the moons; standing in the utmost waves of the sea she utters from her lips tearful words, praying him to haste; and her feet carry her no more eagerly homeward but she has her eyes upon the sea; even so the Sargues, one would say, shed tears from their eyes, left desolate, when the Goats are driven away. Poor Sargue! anon methinks thou shalt find thy companioning with the herds of Goats a fatal passion. In such wise does the wit of the fishermen turn thy love into a snare and destruction. First of all a man marks those rocks near land which rise in twin peaks near together with a narrow space of sea between and pare open to the rays of the sun: wherein dwell many Sargues which have their habitation together; for the Sargues delight exceedingly in the beams of the sun. Here the man betakes himself, his limbs clothed in the skin of a goat and two horns fastened to his temples, meditating a rustic trick: and he casts into the sea a bait of barley-meal enriched with goatflesh and roasted meat together. The welcome savour, the deceiving aspect of the man, and the goodly boon of food entice the Sargues, and they think not in their minds of any harm but delighted they remain, fawning round their foeman in the guise of a goat. Unhappy fishes! how fatal a friend they presently find him, whose mind is nowise goatlike. For straightway he arrays against them a rough rod and a line of grey flax and puts on the hook the natural flesh of a goat's hoof. They greedily seize the bait and he with stout hand pulls and lands them. For if any of them suspect the work of guile, no more will he come near, even were the fishermen to bring the shaggy goats themselves, but together they take to flight, loathing alike the form of the man and the feast and the sunny spaces of the rock itself. But if the fisher escape their notice and do his work swiftly, none will be left uncaptured, but the goatlike aspect will overcome them all.
§ 4.374 Another passion employs the Sargues in the season of spring, even their passion for one another, and they contend about the bridal bed. One male fights for many wives and he who prevails by his valour is sufficient mate for all; and he drives his female company among the rocks, where the fishermen contrive a deep weel, rounded on all sides, and cover it all about the mouth with foliage of plants, shadowing it cunningly with green branches of myrtle or fragrant bay or some other tree. Now the goad of desire rouses the males to the moil of battle and the war for brides waxes keen. But when one by his prowess wins the victory, straightway he looks for a hollow rock as a dwelling for his wives, and he espies the weel lying, roofed with leafy boughs and therein he drives his choir of brides. They then enter within the weel, while he outside keeps away all the males nor suffers any other to approach his brides. But when he has filled the plaited snare, last, he himself advances into the bridal chamber, a bed of Hades without escape. As when some shepherd drives from the pasture his fleecy flocks and leads them home, and standing in the entrance of the steading reckons in his mind the number of his sheep, reviewing them well to see if all are safe, and the courtyard, full to overflowing, is straitened with the huddling sheep, and last the shepherd himself enters among them; even so the female Sargues enter first within the hollow retreat, and after them their spouse leaps in himself, hasting unhappy bridegroom with unhappy brides. Such contests does love array among the finny tribe and by such snares of amorous madness they perish.
§ 4.404 The Hippurus, when they behold anything floating in the waves, all follow it, closely in a body, but especially when a ship is wrecked by the stormy winds, finding Poseidon terribly unkind, and the great waves break her up and carry hither and thither her scattered timbers, loosened by the rending assaults of the sea. Then the shoals of the Hippurus follow in the train of the drifting planks, and the fisherman who chances upon them wins easily great and unstinted spoil. But that may the Son of Cronos, the lord of the deep, avert from our sailors, and may their ships speed over the broad waves with gentle breezes, unhurt and unshaken, while they ply to and fro for cargo! And for the Hippurus men may contrive other devices and without the wreck of ships pursue their prey.
§ 4.419 The fishermen gather reeds and tie them together in bundles which they let down into the waves and underneath they tie a heavy stone by way of ballast. All this they let sway gently in the water; and straightway the shade-loving tribes of the Hippurus gather in shoals and linger about delightedly rubbing their backs against the reeds. Then the fishers row to them to find a ready prey, and bait their hooks and cast them, and the fish seize them, hastening therewith their own destruction. Even as a hunter excites with meat his dogs to the warfare of the chase, waving among them a piece of game, and the dogs in a frenzy of appetite with ravenous rage run emulous one before the other and look to the man's hand to see where he will throw it, and strife of teeth arises: so the fishes rush readily upon the hooks. And easily, if active, thou shalt catch and land them one after the other; for they are more eager than the fishermen themselves and by their own folly hasten their doom. By like craft are the Pilot-fishes also taken; for their heart equally is set upon desire for shade.
§ 4.439 Against the Calamaries a man should devise a prod fashioned after the manner of a spindle. And about it let him fasten close to one another many hooks with recurving barbs, and on these let him impale the striped body of a Rainbow-wrasse to hide the bent teeth of bronze, and in the green depths of the sea let him trail such snare upon a cord. The Calamary when he sees it, darts up and grasps it in the embrace of its moist tentacles and becomes impaled upon the lips of bronze. And no more can it leave them for all its endeavour but is haled against its will, having of itself entangled its body.
In havens of the sea beyond the wash of the waves some youth in sport contrives a mode of catching Eels. He takes a long sheep-gut and lets it trail its length in the water, like a long line. The Eel espies it and rushes up and seizes it. The youth perceives that the Eel has swallowed the bait and straightway blows in the sheep-gut and inflates it with his breath. By his vehement blowing the gut swells up and fills the straining mouth of wretched Eel; which is straitened and distressed by the human breath, but is held a fast prisoner for all its endeavour to escape, until, swollen and wildly gasping, it swims to the surface and becomes the prey of the fisher. Even as one who makes essay of a full jar, takes a blow-pipe and puts it in his mouth and by drawing in his breath draws with the tip of his lips draught of wine, which streams up under the force of his breathing: so the Eels, swollen by the breath of the youth, are drawn toward the mouth of the crafty blower.
§ 4.468 There is a certain timid and strengthless company of fishes, the thronging race of the feeble Fry which are called Anchovies. They are a goodly food for all manner of fishes and flight is evermore the burning thought of their minds. They are afraid of all things and they remain huddled with one another in heaps and cling in crowds together, as if they were under the stress of a compelling chain. And thou couldst not contrive to separate the broad swarm of them or lose them each from each: in such sort do they cling to one another. Many a time even ships run aground on them as upon a reef and many a time the rowers on the benches entangle their oars in them and the hasting blade is stayed as if it struck a stony rock. And haply someone lifts straight a heavy-bladed axe and smites Anchovies, yet does not cleave with the iron the whole mass in twain but cuts off only a tiny portion of the shoal. And the hatchet cuts off the head of one and maims another of its tail and another it cleaves in the midst of the body and yet another it utterly destroys. Pitiful it is to behold their bodies like wretched corpses. Yet not even so do they forget themselves, and they do not relax the chain that binds them: so fast a rivet holds them together. Encountering those fishes a man might gather of them with his hands as if he gathered deep sand. Now when the fishermen behold them huddled together, they gladly enclose them with their hollow seine-nets and without trouble bring ashore abundant booty and on the deep beaches pile up heaps, an infinite abundance of spoil. As when the harvesters have finished the work of Deo and with help of the winds and the landsman's oars have separated the grain, they pile it abundant in the mid space of the round threshing-floor and, full everywhere to overflowing, the ring that receives the wheat shows white within the floor: even so then, filled with the infinite Fry, the brow of the beach beside the sea shows white.
§ 4.504 The tribes of the Pelamyds are by birth from the Euxine sea and are the offspring of the female Tunny. For these gather by the mouth of the Maeotian Lake where it meets the sea, and there amid the wet reed-beds they bethink them of the painful travail of birth. And such of their eggs as they find they eat as they hurry along, but such as remain among the reeds and rushes give birth in due season to the shoals of the Pelamyds. These when first they skim the waves and make essay of travelling hasten to voyage in alien seas and tiny though they be, will not abide where they were born. There is a tract of the Thracian sea which, as men say, is the deepest in all the demesne of Poseidon: wherefore also it is called the Black Gulf. Thereon no over-fierce or violent winds make assault, and in it are coverts under water, cavernous, muddy, beyond thought, in which grow abundantly such things as provide food for tiny fishes. There are the first paths of the new-born swarms of Pelamyds; since beyond all other creatures of the sea they dread the stormy onset of winter — for winter dulls the light of their eyes. And there in the spacious loins of the sea they linger idly and grow in size while they await the sweet spring; and there also they mate and fulfil their desire. But when they are full of roe they hasten to travel back to their native wave where they put from them the travail of their belly.
§ 4.531 These the Thracians who dwell above the deep expanse of the Black Gulf capture in the unkindly season of winter by a cruel and unpleasant form of fishing under the bloody law of war and savage doom of death. They have a stout log, not long but as thick as may be, about a cubit in length. On the end of it are put abundant lead and many three-pronged spears set close together; and about it runs a well-twisted cable exceeding long. Sailing up in a boat to where the gulf is deepest, mightily they launch into the murky deep the pine-log's stubborn strength. Straightway with swift rush, weighed down by lead and iron, it speeds to the nether foundations of the sea, where it strikes upon the weak Pelamyds huddling in the mud and kills and transfixes as many as it reaches of the hapless crowd. And the fishermen swiftly draw them up, impaled upon the bronze and struggling pitifully under the iron torture. Beholding them even a stone-hearted man would pity them for their unhappy capture and death. For the spear-point has entered the flanks of one, the swift shaft has transfixed the head of another; one is wounded over the tail, the groin of this, the back of that is victim of the bitter warfare, and yet another is pierced in the midst of the belly. As, when the mellay of battle is decided, their comrades take up the slain out of the dust and blood, and array them for the fiery bed, lamenting; and many and various are the wounds on the bodies of the dead and every sort of warlike stroke is there: even so on the Pelamyds wounds show everywhere — an image of war but welcome to the fishers.
§ 4.562 Others again take the tribes of the feeble Pelamyds with light nets. For always in the darkness, whatever falls upon the sea, they are afraid and they have a horror of the night and in the night they are captured as they flee in terror through the deep. The fishers set up very light nets of buoyant flax and wheel in a circle round about while they violently strike the surface of the sea with their oars and make a din with sweeping blow of poles. At the flashing of the swift oars and noise the fishes bound in terror and rush into the bosom of the net which stands at prest, thinking it to be a shelter: foolish fishes which, frightened by a noise, enter the gates of doom. Then the fishers on either side hasten with the ropes to draw the fish ashore. And, when they see the moving rope, the fish, in vain terror, huddle and cower together and are coiled in a mass. Then would the fisher offer many prayers to the gods of hunting that nothing may leap out of the net nor anything make a move and show the way; for if the Pelamyds see such a thing, speedily they all bound over the light net into the deep and leave the fishing fruitless. But if none of the sea-roaming gods be angry with the fishermen, then often even when the fishes are haled out of the sea upon the solid shore they will not leave the net but cling to it, afraid even of the eddying rope itself. Even so in the woods the hunters of the hill take the timorous deer by happy hunting-craft. Encircling all the wood with a rope, they bind about it the swift wings of buoyant birds; and the deer, when they behold it, shrink in vain and empty terror and, idly affrighted by the wings, they will not approach, until the hunters rush upon them and make them their prey.
§ 4.590 Moreover, a diver, skilled in the works of the sea, without any snare attacks and captures some fishes with his hands alone, traversing the path of the sea as if it were dry land: to wit, the Sargue which trembles with terror and the craven Sciaena. The Sargues in their fear cower and crowd together in the depths of the sea and they lie in piles athwart one another, while their backs bristle with spines erect, even as farmers fence all round with close-net stakes the hedge that runs about a vineyard: a great trouble for robbers; and none could enter in, since the stakes bar the way. Even so no one would readily touch the Sargues nor lay a hand upon them, for their dark spines bristle about them with close-set jutting points. But the skilful man should dive speedily under the hidden places of the sea and observe the Sargues all round — where lies the head and where the tail — and putting his hand over their heads he should gently stroke their spines above and press and bend them down. The Sargues remain just as they were, clustered together and unmoving, trusting in their sharp defences. Then the man takes two of them, one in either hand, and comes to the surface again, having accomplished a deed of utmost cunning.
§ 4.615 The rock-haunting Sciaena, when fear comes upon its heart, rushes eagerly to the reefs and enters some hollow round hole or cleft, or creeps under the sea grasses or the wet weeds; for it does not study to find such shelter as might admit its whole body and protect it, but seeks only to defend its head, and hiding head and eyes hopes because it does not see to escape the attack of one who sees. Even so in the woods the Antelope, when the ravenous Lion attacks it, turning down its head protects itself with a vain defence and hopes itself unseen, till the deadly beast rushes upon it and rends it, while it remains of like mind as before nor lifts its head, but even while it perishes thinks to escape. Such foolish device also doth the winged bent-necked beast of Libya practise: but its craft is vain. Even so with vain hopes the tender Sciaena hides, for speedily the fisher pulls it forth with his hand and comes to the surface and shows its foolishness.
§ 4.635 Even so many devices I know of the fishermen's craft in the sea and bitter destruction for so many fishes. And all the others a like fate overtakes, by weels and hooks and deep-woven net and sweeping trident — some in the day-time but others evening takes and slays, when at earliest dusk of night with lighted torch the fishers steer their hollow boat, bringing to the resting fishes a darkling doom. Then do the fishes exulting in the oily flame of pine rush about the boat and, to their sorrow seeing the fire at even, meet the stern blow of the trident.
§ 4.647 There is another manner of fishing practised by fishermen who use poison; who devise baleful poison for fishes and bring to the finny race swift doom. First with many missiles and sweep of poles and assault of oars the fishermen drive the wretched ranks of the finny creatures into one place, some bay broken with many hiding-places. There the fishes creep below the hollow rocks and the fishermen set goodly nets of flax around, encircling them all about, even as if they threw threatening double walls of stone around the foemen. Then a man takes rich white clay together with the root which mediciners call cyclamen and mixes them in his hands and kneads two cakes. And he leaps over the nets into the sea and about the very caves and chambers of the fishes he smears the evil-smelling poison of the hateful unguent and pollutes the sea. Him when he has done his deadly poison the ship takes on board again. But speedily the evil and unkindly odour first reaches the fishes in their chambers and their eyes are clouded and their head and limbs are heavy and they cannot remain in their hiding-places but rush in terror from the rocks. But the sea is yet more bitter for them: such bane is mingled with its waves. And heavy as it were with wine, drunk with the deadly fumes, they wheel every way but nowhere find a place free from the plague, and they rush furiously upon the nets, eager to break through. But there is no deliverance from their cruel doom nor any escape. With much rushing and leaping they toss in their agony and as they perish there runs over the sea a great panting — which for the wretched fishes is their way of lamentation. But the fishermen, rejoicing in their agonies, remain callously apart until silence reigns upon the sea and the fishes cease from their noise and grievous tumult, having breathed away their lamentable breath. And then the fishers draw forth an infinite crowd of dead, slain together by a common doom of destruction. As when men bring war upon their foes, eager to destroy and raze their city, and cease not to devise evil in their hearts but even poison with deadly poison the water of their wells: and the others with their towers, afflicted by grievous hunger and distress and hateful water, perish by a sorrowful and unseemly doom, and the whole city is full of dead; so by a sad death and untoward doom, overcome by the poison of men, the fishes perish.
§ 5.1 Book V
Next hear and mark, O lord of earth, that there is nothing impossible for men to do, either on mother earth or in the vasty gulf of the sea, but of a truth someone created men to be a race like unto the blessed gods, albeit he gave them inferior strength: whether it was the son of Iapetus, Prometheus of many devices, who made man in the likeness of the blessed ones, mingling earth with water, and anointed his heart with the anointing of the gods; or whether we are born of the blood divine that flowed from the Titans; for there is nothing more excellent than men, apart from the gods: only to the immortals shall we give place. How many monster wild beasts of dauntless might doth man quench upon the mountains, how many tribes of birds that wheel in cloud and air doth he take captive, though he be of lowly stature! His valour prevents not the Lion from defeat, nor doth the windswift sweep of his wings save the Eagle. Even the Indian Beast, dark of hide and of tremendous weight, men make to bow to overwhelming force and under the yoke set him to do the patient hauling labour of the mule.
§ 5.21 And the huge Sea-monsters that are bred in the habitations of Poseidon are, I declare, no whit meaner than the ravaging children of the land, but both in strength and size the dauntless terrors of the sea excel. There is upon the mainland the breed of Tortoises which know no valour nor hurt: but the Tortoise of the sea no man shall confidently confront amid the waves. There are fierce Dogs upon the dry land: but not one could vie in shamelessness with the Dogs of the sea. Dread is the bite of the Leopard of the land but that of the sea Leopard is more terrible. Hyenas walk upon the dry land, but those amid the waves are deadlier far. The Ram of the shepherds is a gentle beast, but he who approaches the Rams of the sea shall not find them kindly to encounter. What Boar wields such strength as doth the invincible Lamna? What valour burns in the heart of the Lion to be likened to that of the dread Hammer-head? Before the dread-eyed Seal the maned Bears on the land tremble and, when they meet them in battle, they are vanquished. Such are the beasts which have their business in the sea. But notwithstanding even for them the dauntless race of men has devised grievous woe, and they perish at the hands of fishermen, when these set themselves to do battle with the Sea-monsters. The manner of hunting these with its heavy labour I will tell. And do ye hearken graciously, O kings, Olympian bulwarks of the earth.
§ 5.46 The Sea-monsters that are nurtured in the midst of the seas are very many in number and of exceeding size. And not often do they come up out of the brine, but by reason of their heaviness they keep the bottom of the sea below. And they rave for food with unceasing frenzy, being always anhungered and never abating the gluttony of their terrible maw: for what food shall be sufficient to fill the void of their belly or enough to satisfy and give a respite to their insatiable jaws? Moreover, they themselves also destroy one another, the mightier in valour slaying the weaker, and one for the other is food and feast. Often too they bring terror to ships when they meet them in the Iberian sea in the West, where chiefly, leaving the infinite water of the neighbouring Ocean, they roll upon their way, like unto ships of twenty oars. Often also they stray and come nigh the beach where the water is deep inshore: and there one may attack them.
§ 5.60 For all the great beasts of the sea, save the Dogfishes, travelling is heavy-limbed and not easy. For they neither see far nor do they travel over all the sea, burdened as they are with their vast limbs, but very tardily they roll upon their way. Wherefore also with all of them there travels a companion fish, dusky to the eye and long of body and with a thin tail: which conspicuously goes before to guide them and show them their path in the sea; for which cause men call it the Guide. But to the Whale it is a companion that hath found wondrous favour, as guide at once and guard; and it easily bringeth him whither he will. For that is the only fish that he follows, the ever-loyal comrade of a loyal friend. And it wheels about near him and close by the eyes of the Whale it extends its tail, which tells the monster everything — whether there is some prey to seize or whether some evil threatens nigh, or if there is a shallow depth of sea which it were better to avoid. Even as if it had a voice, the tail declares all things to him truly, and the burden of the water obeys. For that fish is to the beast champion at once and ears and eye: by it the Whale hears, by it he sees, to it he entrusts the reins of his life for keeping. Even as a son lovingly entreats his aged father, by anxious care of his years repaying the price of his nurture, and zealously attends and cherishes him, weak now of limb and dim of eye, reaching him his arm in the street and himself in all works succouring him — sons are a new strength to an aged sire: so that fish for love cherishes the monster of the brine, steering as it were a ship by the guiding helm.
§ 5.92 Surely it had blood akin to his from earliest birth or he took it of his own will and made it his companion. Thus neither valour nor beauty hath such profit as wisdom, and strength with unwisdom is vain. A little man of good counsel sinks or saves the man of might; for even the invincible Whale with its unapproachable limbs takes for its friend a tiny fish. Therefore one should first capture that scouting Guide, entrapping it with might of hook and bait; for while it lives thou shalt and overpower and conquer the monster, but when it is gone, his destruction will be swifter. For he no longer knows surely the paths of the violet brine nor know to shun the evil that is at hand, but, even as a merchant vessel whose steersman has perished, he wanders idly, defenceless and helpless, wherever the grey water carries him, and is borne in darkling and unguessed ways, widowed of his helpful charioteer. Many a time in his wandering he runs aground on rock or beach: such darkness is spread upon his eyes. Thereupon with eager thoughts the fishers hasten to the labour of the hunt, praying to the blessed gods of whale-killing that they may capture the dread monster of Amphitrite.
§ 5.114 As when a strong company of foemen, having waited for midnight, stealthily approach their enemy and find by favour of Ares the sentinels asleep before the gates and fall upon them and overcome them: thereupon they haste confidently to the high city and the very citadel, carrying the weapon of fire, the doom of the city, even the brand that wrecks the well-builded walls: even so confidently do the fisher host haste after the beast, unguarded now that his pilot is slain. First they conjecture in their minds his weight and size; and these are the signs that tell the measure of his limbs. If, as he rolls amid the waves of the sea, he rise a little above it, showing the top of his spine and the ridge of his neck, then verily he is a mighty beast and excellent: for not even the sea itself can easily support and carry him. But if some portion of his back also appears, that does not announce so great a weight: for feebler beasts travel a more buoyant path. For these monsters the line is fashioned of many strands of well-woven cord, as thick as the forestay of a ship, neither very large nor very small, and in length suitable to the prey. The well-wrought hook is rough and sharp with barbs projecting alternately on either side, strong enough to take a rock and pierce a cliff and with deadly curve as great as the gape of the beast can cover. A coiled chain is cast about the butt of the dark hook — a stout chain of beaten bronze to withstand the deadly violence of his teeth and the spears of his mouth. In the midst of the chain are set round wheels close together, to stay his wild struggles and prevent him from straightway breaking the iron in his bloody agony, as he tosses in deadly pain, but let him roll and wheel in his fitful course. For fatal banquet they put upon hook
§ 5.148 a portion of the black liver of a bull or a bull's shoulder suited to the jaws of the banqueter. To accompany the hunters, as it were for war, are sharpened many strong harpoons and stout tridents and bills and axes of heavy blade and other such weapons as are forged upon the noisy anvil. Swiftly they go on board their well-benched ships, silently nodding to one another as need may be, and set forth. With quiet oars they gently make white the sea, carefully avoiding any noise, lest the great Whale remark aught and dive into the depths for refuge, and the task of the fishers be undertaken in vain. But when they draw nigh to him and close with their task, then boldly from the prow they launch for the giant beast the fatal snare. And when he espies the grievous banquet, he springs and disregards it not, obedient to his shameless belly, and rushing upon the hooked death he seizes it; and immediately the whetted hook enters within his wide throat and he is impaled upon the barbs. Then, roused by the wound, first, indignant, he shakes his deadly jaw against them and strives to break the brazen cord; but his labour is vain. Then, next, in the anguish of fiery pain he dives swiftly into the nether gulfs of the sea. And speedily the fishers allow him all the length of the line; for there is not in men strength enough to pull him up and to overcome the heavy monster against his will. For easily could he drag them to the bottom, benched ship and all together, when he set himself to rush. Straightway as he dives they let go with him into the water large skins filled with human breath and fastened to the line. And he, in the agony of his pain, heeds not the hides but lightly drags them down, all unwilling and fain for the surface of the foamy sea. But when he comes to the bottom with labouring heart, he halts, greatly foaming in his distress. As some horse when it has accomplished its sweaty labour to the utmost goal, in a bloody foam grinds his teeth in the crooked bit, while the hot panting breath comes through his mouth: so, breathing hard, the Whale rests. But the skins allow him not, even if he would, to remain below but swiftly speed upward and leap forth from the sea, buoyed by the breath within them; and a new contest arises for the Whale. Then first he makes a vain rush with his jaws, eager to defend himself against the hides which pull him up. But these fly upward and await him not, but flee like living things seeking escape. And he indignant rushes again to the innermost deep of the brine, and many a twist and turn he makes, now perforce, now of his own will, pulling and being pulled in turn. As when woodcutters labour busily at the joint labour of the saw, when they haste to make a keel or other needful matter for mariners: both men in turn draw to them the rough edge of iron pressing on the wood and the row of its teeth is never turned in one path, but urged from either side it sings loudly as it saws and evermore is drawn the other way: even such is the contest between the hides and the deadly beast — he being dragged up, while they are urged the other way. Much bloody spume he discharges over the sea as he struggles in his pain, and his panting breath as he rages resounds under the sea, and the water bubbles and roars around; thou wouldst say that all the blasts of Boreas were housed and hidden beneath the waves:
§ 5.209 so violently he pants in his fury. And round about many a swirling eddy the swelling waves make a hollow in the waters and the sea is divided in twain. As by the mouth of the Indian and Tyrrhenian seas the dividing waters of the Strait roll raging under the violent panting of Typhaon and dread straining swirls curve the swift wave and dark Charybdis circles round, drawn by her eddying tides: even so by the panting blasts of the Whale the space of the sea around is lashed and whirled about.
§ 5.220 Then should one of the whalers row his hollow skiff and come to land and make fast the line to a rock upon the shore and straightway return — even as a man makes fast a ship by cables from the stern. Now when the deadly beast is tired with his struggles and drunk with pain and his fierce heart is bent with weariness and the balance of hateful doom inclines, then first of all a skin comes to the surface, announcing the issue of victory and greatly uplifts the hearts of the fishers. Even as, when a herald returns from dolorous war in white raiment and with cheerful face, his friends exulting follow him, expecting straightway to hear favourable tidings, so do the fishers exult when they behold the hide, the messenger of good news, rising from below. And immediately other skins rise up and emerge from the sea, dragging in their train the huge monster, and the deadly beast is hauled up all unwillingly, distraught in spirit with labour and wounds. Then the courage of the fishers is roused and with hasting blades they run their well-oared boats near. And much noise and much shouting resound upon the sea as they help and exhort one another to the struggle. Thou wouldst say thou wert beholding the toil of men in war; such valour rises in their hearts and there is such din and such desire for battle. Far away some goatherd hears their horrid noise or some shepherd tending his woolly flock in the glens, or woodcutter felling the pine, or hunter slaying wild beasts, and astonished he draws near to sea and shore and
§ 5.252 standing on a cliff beholds the tremendous toil of the men in this warfare of the sea and the issue of the wondrous hunt, while quenchless lust of war in the water stirs the men. Then one brandishes in his hands the long-barbed trident, another the sharp-pointed lance, others carry the well-bent bill, another wields the two-edged axe. All toil, the hands of all are armed with mighty blade of iron, and close at hand they smite and wound the beast with sweeping blows. And he forgets his mighty valour and is no more able, for all his endeavour, to stay the hasting ships with his jaws, but with heavy sweep of flippers and with the end of his tail he ploughs up the waves of the deep and drives back the ships sternward and turns to naught the work of the oars and the valour of the men, even as a contrary wind that rolls the waves against the prow. The cries of the men resound as they set themselves to work, and all the sea is stained with the gory filth poured forth by phis deadly wounds. The infinite water boils with the blood of the beast and the grey sea is reddened. As when in winter a river comes down from the hills of red earth into a billowy gulf and the blood-coloured mud is rolled down by the rush of the water, mingling with the eddying waves; and afar the water is reddened by the ruddy dust and the sea is as if covered with blood: even so in that hour the gory waters are stained with the blood of the beast, rent amid the waves by the shafts of the fishermen. Then they draw and drop into his wounds a bitter stream of bilge-water; and the salt mingling in his sores like fire kindles for him the deadliest destruction.
§ 5.282 As when the fire of heaven smites with the lash of Zeus a bark that is traversing the sea, and the flaming onset that devours the ship is stirred and made yet fiercer by the sea mingling with the torches of heaven: even so his cruel wounds and pains are made more fierce by the cruel water of the putrid evil-smelling bilge. But when, overcome by the pains of many gashes, fat brings him at last to the gates of dismal death, then they take him in tow and joyfully haul him to the land; and he is dragged all unwilling, pierced with many barbs as with nails and nodding as if heavy with wine in the issue of deadly doom. And the fishers, raising the loud paean of victory, while they speed the boat with their oars, make the sea resound, singing their shrill song to hasting blades. As when after the decision of a battle at sea the victors take in tow the ships of the vanquished and haste joyfully to bring to land the foemen who man the ships, shouting loud to the oarsmen the paean of victory in a fight at sea, while the others against their will sorrowfully follow their foe perforce: even so the fishers take in tow the dread monster of the brine and joyfully bring him ashore. But when he comes nigh the land, then destruction real and final rouses him, and he struggles and lashes the sea with his terrible fins, like a bird upon the well-built altar tossing in the dark struggle of death.
§ 5.309 Unhappy beast! verily many an effort he makes to reach the waves but the strength of his valour is undone and his limbs obey him not and panting terribly he is dragged in to land: even as a merchant ship, broad and many-benched, which men draw forth from the sea and haul up on the dry land when winter comes, to rest from its seafaring toil, and heavy is the labour of the sailors: so they bring the mighty-limbed whale to land. And he fills all the beach with his unapproachable limbs as they lie, and he is stretched out dead, terrible to behold. Even when he is killed and laid upon the land one still dreads to approach his corpse of dread aspect and fears him when he is no more, shuddering even when he is gone at the mere teeth in his jaws. At last they take courage and gather about him in a body, gazing in astonishment at the ruins of the savage beast. Then some marvel at the deadly ranks of his jaws, even the dread and stubborn tusks, like javelins, arrayed in triple row with close-set points. Others feel the bronze-pierced wounds of the monster of many battles; another gazes at his sharp spine bristling with terrible points; others behold with wonder his tail, others his capacious belly and measureless head. And, looking on the fierce beast of the sea, one who has lingered more in landward haunts than among ships says among his comrades by his side:
§ 5.336 O Earth, dear mother, thou didst bear me and hast fed me with landward food, and in thy bosom let me die, when my destined day arrives! (Be the Sea and the works thereof gracious unto me and on the dry land let me worship Poseidon!) And may no tiny bark speed me among the grievous waves nor let me scan the winds and the clouds in the air! Not enough is the so great terror of the waves, not enough for men the terror of distressful seafaring and the woe that they endure, ever riding with the storm-winds of evil noise, nor enough for them to perish by a watery doom: beyond all these they still await such banqueters as these, and find burial without a tomb, glutting the cavern of a wild beast's throat. I fear her who breeds such woes. Nay, O Sea, I greet thee — from the land, and — from afar — mayst thou be kind to me!
§ 5.350 Such are the labours by which they slay those Sea-monsters which exceed in monstrous bulk of body, burdens of the sea. But those which are endowed with lesser limbs are caught by lesser sort of hunting and the weapons are suited to the prey: smaller the lines, smaller the jaw of the hook, scantier the food that baits the barbs, and in place of the skins of goats globes of dried gourds fastened to the line pull the body of the beast to the surface.
§ 5.358 When fishermen encounter the whelps of the Lamna, many a time they merely undo the oar-thong, the strap which fastens the oar, and project it in the waves. And when the Lamna espies it, she rushes and puts forth the strength of her jaws, and straightway her crooked teeth are entangled in the strap and are held fast as in chains. Thereafter it is an easy task to kill the Lamna with blows of the iron trident.
Ravenous pre-eminently among the hateful Sea-monsters and gluttonous are the monster tribes of the Dogfishes; and they are pre-eminently insolent and proud and will fear nothing that they meet, having unbridled shamelessness ever swelling like a frenzy in their hearts. Often they rush upon the nets of the fishermen or attack their weels and destroy their fishy spoil, while fattening their own hearts. And a watchful fisherman may pierce them with hook in the frenzy of their gluttony and land them along with the fishes, a pleasant spoil of his fishing.
§ 5.376 For the Seal no hooks are fashioned nor any three-pronged spear which could capture it: for exceeding hard is the hide which it has upon its limbs as a mighty hedge. But when the fishermen have unwittingly enclosed a seal among the fishes in their well-woven nets, then there is swift labour and haste to pull the nets ashore. For no nets, even if there are very many at hand, would stay the raging seal, but with its violence and sharp claws it will easily break them and rush away and prove a succour to pent-up fishes but a great grief to the hearts of the fishermen. But if betimes they bring it near the land, there with trident and mighty clubs and stout spears they smite it on the temples and kill it: since destruction comes most swiftly upon seals when they are smitten on the head.
§ 5.392 Moreover, the Turtles also very often destroy the spoil of the fishermen when they fall in with it and become a plague to the men. To capture it is the easiest task of all for a man who is courageous and of fearless soul. For if he leap into the waves and turn the stony turtle on its back upon its shell, no more can it avoid doom, however much it try, but it floats on the surface buoyantly, struggling with its feet in its desire for the sea; and laughter seizes the fishermen. And sometimes they smite it with blows of iron, otherwhiles they deal with it by towing it with ropes. And as when a boy in childish frolic takes a rough mountain-roaming Tortoise and turns it over and it lies upon its back and is very eager to reach the ground, waving its wrinkled feet and wriggling furiously its crooked knees in its distress, and laughter seizes all who behold: even so its kindred beast of the sea floats on its back in the brine, the sport of the fishermen.
And often it comes up to the dry land and by the prays of sun its scales are burnt about it and it carries but withered limbs back to the sea and the dark wave receives it no more for all its eagerness but carries and rolls it aloft while it yearns for the bottom of the sea. And fishermen espying it very easily and gladly overcome it.
§ 5.415 The hunting of Dolphins is immoral and that man can no more draw nigh the gods as a welcome sacrificer nor touch their altars with clean hands but pollutes those who share the same roof with him, whoso willingly devises destruction for Dolphins. For equally with human slaughter the gods abhor the deathly doom of the monarchs of the deep; for like thoughts with men have the attendants of the god of the booming sea: wherefore also they practise love of their offspring and are very friendly one to another. Behold now what manner of happy hunting the Dolphins kindly to men array against the fishes in the island of Euboea amid the Aegean waves. For when the fishers hasten to the toil of pevening fishing, carrying to the fishes the menace of fire, even the swift gleam of the brazen lantern, the Dolphins attend them, speeding the slaughter of their common prey. Then the fishes in terror turn away and seek escape, but the Dolphins from the outer sea rush together upon them and frighten them and, when they would fain turn to the deep sea, they drive them forth towards the unfriendly land, leaping at them ever and again, even as dogs chasing the wild beast for the hunters and answering bark with bark. And when the fishes flee close to the land, the fishermen easily smite them with the well-pronged trident. And there is no way of escape for them, but they dance about in the sea, driven by the fire and by the Dolphins, the kings of the sea. But when the work of capture is happily accomplished, then the Dolphins draw near and ask the guerdon of their friendship, even their allotted portion of the spoil. And the fishers deny them not, but gladly give them a share of their successful fishing; for if a man sin against them in his arrogance, no more are the Dolphins his helpers in fishing.
§ 5.448 One has heard, moreover, of the feat famous of old of the Lesbian minstrel, how riding on the back of a Dolphin he crossed the black waves while he sat fearless of heart and singing, and so escaped death from the pirates, and reached the land of Taenarus on the shores of the Laconians. And one knows, methinks, by hearsay the love of the Libyan boy whom as he herded his sheep a Dolphin loved with burning love and played with him beside the shores and for delight in his shrill pipe was fain to live among the very sheep and forsake the sea and come to the woods. Nay, nor has all Aeolis forgotten the love of a youth — not long ago but in our own generation — how a Dolphin once loved an island boy and in the island it dwelt and ever haunted the haven where ships lay at anchor, even as if it were a townsman and refused to leave its comrade, but abode there and made that its house from the time that it was little till it was a grown cub, like a little child nurtured in the ways of the boy. But when they came to the fullness of vigorous youth, then the boy excelled among the youths and the Dolphin in the sea was more excellent in swiftness than all others. Then there was a marvel strange beyond speech or thought for strangers and indwellers to behold. And report stirred many to hasten to see the wondrous sight, a youth and a Dolphin growing up in comradeship,
§ 5.472 and day by day beside the shore were many gatherings of those who rushed to gaze upon the mighty marvel. Then the youth would embark in his boat and row in front of the embayed haven and would call it, shouting the name whereby he had named it even from earliest birth. And the Dolphin, like an arrow, when it heard the call of the boy, would speed swiftly and come close to the beloved boat, fawning with its tail and proudly lifting up its head fain to touch the boy. And he would gently caress it with his hands, lovingly greet his comrade, while it would be eager to come right into boat beside the boy. But when he dived lightly into the brine, it would swim near the youth, its side right by his side and its cheek close by his and touching head with head. Thou wouldst have said that in its love the Dolphin was fain to kiss and embrace the youth: in such close companionship it swam. But when he came near the shore, straightway the youth would lay his hand upon its neck and mount on its wet back. And gladly and with understanding it would receive the boy upon its back and would go where the will of the youth drave it, whether over the wide sea afar he commanded it to travel or merely to traverse the space of the haven or to approach the land: it obeyed every behest. No colt for its rider is so tender of mouth and so obedient to the curved bit; no dog trained to the bidding of the hunter is so obedient to follow where he leads; nay, nor any servants are so obedient, when their master bids, to do his will willingly, as that friendly Dolphin was obedient to the bidding of the youth, without yoke-strap or constraining bridle. And not himself alone would it carry but it would obey any other whom his master bade it and carry him on its back, refusing no labour in its love. Such was its friendship for the boy while he lived; but when death took him, first like one sorrowing the Dolphin visited the shores in quest of the companion of its youth: you would have said you heard the veritable voice of a mourner — such helpless grief was upon it. And no more, though they called it often, would it hearken to the island townsmen nor would it accept food when offered it, and very soon it vanished from that sea and none marked it any more and it no more visited the place. Doubtless sorrow for the youth that was gone killed it, and with its dead comrade it had been fain to die.
§ 5.519 But notwithstanding, although the Dolphins so excel in gentleness and though they have a heart so much at one with men, the overweening Thracians and those who dwell in the city of Byzas hunt them with iron-hearted devices — surely wicked men and sinful! who would not spare their children or their fathers and would lightly slay their brothers born. And this is the manner of their unpleasant hunting. The mother Dolphin — a mother to her sorrow — is closely attended by her twin brood, like unto boys of tender age. Now against these the cruel Thracians array their attack, equipping a light boat for the sinful labour of their hunt. The young Dolphins, when they see the speeding bark before them, remain still and look not to flight, not dreaming that any guile or ill would come upon them from men, but fawn on them as on kindly comrades with delight, rejoicing as they meet their own destruction. Then the fishers strike swiftly the hurled trident which they call a harpoon, most deadly weapon of the hunt, and smite one of the young Dolphins with unthought of woe. And shrinking back in the bitter anguish of its pain, it straightway dives within the nether brine, racked with torture and grievous agony. And the fishers do not hale it up by force — else would they be undertaking to no purpose a vain and empty work of hunting — but as it rushes, they let the long line go with it and urge on the boat with their oars, following the path of the fleeing Dolphin. Be when it is weary and in evil case with grievous pains and struggles on the barbs of iron, then being faint it comes to the surface, its strong limbs weary, raised by the buoyant waves, gasping its last. And the mother never leaves it but always follows with it in its distress and when it rises from the depths, like one who grieves and mourns terribly. You would say you were beholding the mourning of a mother when her city is sacked by the foe and her children are haled away perforce as the spoil of the spear. Even so she in sore grief circles about her wounded child as if she herself were suffering and wounded by the iron. Her other child she falls upon to send it from her path and urgently drives it away:
§ 5.560 Flee, my child! for men are foes, no longer friends to us, but they prepare against us iron and capture: now even against the Dolphins they array war, sinning against the truce of the immortal gods and against the concord which formerly we made with one another. So, voiceless though she be, she speaks to her children. And one she turns away to flee afar; but the other, suffering with it in its cruel suffering, she attends close to the very boat and forsakes it not; nor could one drive away the mother if he had tried either by striking her or by any other form of terror, but along with the child, when it is haled up the unhappy mother is haled up also, till she comes into the hands of the foe. Unkind and surely greatly sinful, these neither have pity upon her when they see her distress nor bend their heart of iron, but, smiting her also with stroke of brazen harpoons, they slay child and mother together in a common doom: slay her not unwilling to be slain, since over her dead child the mother wittingly and willingly meets her death. As when a snake chances upon the young brood of a swallow under the eaves and approaches them: and them he slays and seizes within his teeth, and the mother first circles about distraught, pitifully crying her lament for their slaying; but when she sees her children perished, no more she seeks escape from destruction but flutters under the very jaws of the serpent, until the doom that slew the children overtakes the mother bird: even so also with the young Dolphin perishes the mother, coming a willing prey into the hands of the fishermen.
§ 5.588 As for the Testacean tribes which crawl in the sea, report tells us that all these in due cycle are full of flesh when the moon is waxing and inhabit a rich dwelling, but when she wanes, again they become more meagre and wrinkled of limb: such compelling force resides in them. Of these men gather some from the sand with their hands, diving under the sea; others they pull from the rocks to which they stubbornly cling; yet others the waves cast up on the very shores or in trenches digged in the sand.
§ 5.595 The Purple-shells again among Shell-fish are eminently gluttonous, and by gluttony is the true manner of their capture. Small weels like baskets pare made with close-set rushes, and the fishers gather and place in them Spiral-shells and Clams together. Now when the Purple-fishes draw near, drunk with the lust of food, they put forth from within their chamber their long tongue, which is thin and sharp, and stretch it through the rushes, in quest of food and fatal feast they find. For the tongue, fixed in the close-set rushes, swells and is straitened by the mesh of withes and cannot any more draw back if it try but remains stretched in pain, until the fishers land the shell-fish while intent upon their tongue, bringing a colour most beautiful for purple cloths.
§ 5.612 Than the task of the Sponge-cutters I declare that there is none worse nor any work more woeful for men. These, when they prepare themselves for their labour, use more meagre food and drink and indulge themselves with sleep unfitting fishermen. As when a man prepares himself for the tuneful contest — one who hath Phoebus' boast of lyric song — and he studies all care and every way takes heed, nursing for the games the melody of his clear voice: so do they zealously take all watchful care that their breath may abide unscathed when they go down into the depths and that they may recover from past toil. But when they adventure to accomplish their mighty task, they make their vows to the blessed gods who rule the deep sea and pray that they ward from them all hurt from the monsters of the deep and that no harm may meet them in the sea. And if they see a Beauty-fish, then great courage comes into their hearts; for where these range there never yet hath any dread Sea-monster appeared nor noxious beast nor hurtful thing of the sea but always they delight in clean and harmless paths; wherefore also men have named it the Holy Fish. Rejoicing in it they hasten to their labours. A man is girt with a long rope above his waist and, using both hands, in one he grasps a heavy mass of lead and in his right hand he holds a sharp bill, while in the jaws of his mouth he keeps white oil.
§ 5.639 Standing upon the prow he scans the waves of the sea, pondering his heavy task and the infinite water. His comrades incite and stir him to his work with encouraging words, even as a man skilled in foot-racing when he stands upon his mark. But when he takes heart of courage, he leaps into the eddying waves and as he springs the force of the heavy grey lead drags him down. Now when he arrives at the bottom, he spits out the oil, and it shines brightly and the gleam mingles with the water, even as a beacon showing its eye in the darkness of the night. Approaching the rocks he sees the Sponges which grow on the ledges of the bottom, fixed fast to the rocks; and report tells that they have breath in them, even as other things that grow upon the sounding rocks. Straightway rushing upon them with his bill in his stout hand, like a mower, he cuts the body of the Sponges, and he loiters not, but quickly shakes the rope, signalling to his comrades to pull him up swiftly. For hateful blood is sprinkled straightway from the Sponges and rolls about the man, and many a times the grievous fluid, clinging to his nostrils, chokes the man with its noisome breath.
§ 5.660 Therefore swift as thought he is pulled to the surface; and beholding him escaped from the sea one would rejoice at once and grieve and pity: so much are his weak members relaxed and his limbs unstrung with fear and distressful labour. Often when the sponge-cutter has leapt into the deep waters of the sea and won his loathly and unkindly spoil, he comes up no more, unhappy man, having encountered some huge and hideous beast. Shaking repeatedly the rope he bids his comrades pull him up. And the mighty Sea-monster and the companions of the fisher pull at his body rent in twain, a pitiful sight to see, still yearning for ship and shipmates. And they in sorrow speedily leave those waters and their mournful labour and return to land, weeping over the remains of their unhappy comrade.
§ 5.675 So much I know, O Wielder of the Sceptre, nursling of the gods, of the works of the sea. But for thee may thy ships be steered from harm, sped by gentle winds and fair; and always for thee may the sea teem with fish; and may Poseidon, Lord of Safety (Asphalios), guard and keep unshaken the nether foundations which hold the roots of Earth.