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1 Cuvier observes, that all fishes are found to have in the membranous labyrinth of the ear, bodies like stone, enclosed in a certain kind of gelatinous liquor. These bodies, however, he says, are not equally large in all kinds of fish. He says that it is found largest in the sciæna.
2 The Perca labrax of Linnæus. Called "loup," or "wolf," on the Mediterranean coasts of France, and "bar" on the shores of the ocean.
3 Aristotle, Hist. Anim. B. viii. c. 19, attributes to the chromis, Cuvier says, stones in the head, B. iv. c. 8, an acute hearing, B. iv. c. 9, the power of making a sort of grunting noise, and the habit of living gregariously, and depositing the eggs once a year, B. iv. c. 9; all which characteristics, he says, are found in the Sciæna umbra of the naturalists, the maigre of the French. In addition to this, Epicharmus, as quoted by Athenæus, B. vii., says that the chromis and the xiphias are, at the beginning of spring, the very best of fish; a quality which must be admitted to belong to the maigre, for its size and its excellent flavour. However, he says, seeing that the glaucus, which Aristotle has distinguished from the chromis, has a still stronger resemblance to the maigre, and that, as Belon informs us, the ombrine, or Sciæna cirrhosa, is still sometimes called at Marseilles the "chro," or the "chrau," and that, as Gyllius says, on the coast of Genoa it has the name of "chro," it would not be improbable that this is really the chromis of the Greeks, as Belon supposes.
4 From σκιἀ, the Greek for "shadow;" which name, as Cuvier says, has been translated by the moderns by the word "ombre," or "umbra." But this name has been given at the present day to so many fish of various kinds, from the "ombra" of the Italians and the "maigre" of the French, the Sciæna umbra of the naturalists, the ombrine or Sciæna cirrhosa of Linnæus, to the ombre of Auvergne, the Salmo thymallus of Linnæus, and the ombre chevalier, the Salmo umbra of Linnæus, that this synonyme does not aid us in discovering its identity. Aristotle says nothing relative to his sciæna, Hist. Anim. B. viii. c. 19, except that it has stones in the head, a thing that is common to this with many other fish. Pliny, in copying this passage, preserves the Greek name; but Ovid, Columella, and Ausonius give it the name of "umbra:" the one, however, described by the first two is a sea-fish, while that of Ausonius is a fresh-water fish. Varro, who cites the name of umbra among those given to fish, adds that the species which bears it owes its name to its peculiar colour; and as Ovid calls it "liveus," or "livid," it may be presumed to have been of a dark colour. It is very possible, then, that it may have been the corvus marinus, or sea-crow, the Sciæna nigra of Linnæus.
5 Or pagrus. This passage is from Aristotle, Hist. Nat. B. viii. c. 19. Cuvier says that there are several names of fish, known in the Mediteranean at the present day, as being from the φάγρος of Aristotle, such as the pagri or pageau, the fragolino, &c. names of a fish of a red silvery hue, the Sparus erythrinus of Linnæus, his Sparus pagrus being another species. The modern Greeks also call it φάγρος, the best proof of its identity with the phagros of Aristotle, or pager or phagrus of Pliny. This phagrus, Cuvier says, was not improbably the same as the modern pagre, as their characteristics quite agree, so far as those of the ancient phagrus are described. It is of red colour, and we find Ovid (Halieut. 1. 108,) speaking of the "rutilus pagur," and it was, according to Aristotle, 13. viii. c. 13, caught equally out at sea and near the shore, and had stones in the head, B. viii. c. 19, or, in other words, stony bodies of large size in the labyrinthine cavities of the ear. Oppian, Halieut. B. iii. 1. 185, says that the channe forms a delicate morsel for the pagrus, which shows that it was of considerable size; and several authors quoted by Athenæus, B. vii., give it the epithet of "great." Hicesius says, in the same place, that it resembles the erythrus, the chromis, the anthias, and other fish of very different character among themselves; but it is only in relation to the flesh that he makes these comparisons, so that we are unable to come to any conclusion as to the form. But we find Numenius, also quoted by Athenæus, speaking of the φάγρον λοφίην, the "crested phagrus," possibly in allusion to the height of the neck. The properties of its flesh are, if possible, still less characteristic. Hecesius says that it is of sweet flavour and nourishing, but rather astringent. Galen, however, says that it is hard, and difficult of digestion, when old.
6 Hardouin says that Aristotle, B. viii. c. 20, from whom this account is taken, does not say this of all kinds of fish, but only of those which have large heads.
7 In B. viii. c. 54 and 55, where he is speaking of bears and other animals.
8 Cuvier states that Pliny takes this name from Aristotle, and that Athenæus, B. vii., says that it is synonymous with the Greek name, κορύ- φαινη. He also informs us, that modern naturalists have applied these two names to the dorade of navigators, the lampuga of the Spaniards and Sicilians, the Coryphæna hippurus of Linnæus, but that it is not clear that it has been applied on sufficient grounds: as there is no trace whatever of either of the two ancient names on the coasts of the Mediterranean, and the ancient writers have given no sufficient characteristics of the coryphæna or hippurus. It was, we learn, of excellent flavour, and in the habit of springing out of the water, from which, Athenæus says, it received the name of "arneutes," from ἀρνὸς, "a lamb."
9 Cuvier remarks, that Rondelet and others of the moderns have thought that this was synonymous with the crow-fish, the corb of the French, the Sciæna nigra of Linnæus, but that his own researches on the subject had led him to a different conclusion. Its name was derived, he says, from the Greek κόραξ, "a crow," on account of the blackness of its colour, as Oppian says, Halieut. B. i. 1. 133; but there were white ones as well, which Athenæus, 13. viii., says, were the best eating, though the black ones were the most common. Aristophanes, as quoted by Athenæus, B. viii., calls it also the fish with black gills, μελανοπτέρυγον. Aristotle, Hist. Anim. B. v. c. 10, says that it was a small fish, and one of those that increase rapidly in growth. It was little esteemed, and was much used, as we learn from Athenæus and the Geoponica, for salting, and making garum or fish-sauce. It was also used as a bait for the anthias or flower-fish. Strabo, B. xiii., also speaks of a river-fish of this name, as being found in the Nile; the flesh of which Athenæus mentions as being remarkably good eating, and the best among the fishes of the Nile. Martial also, B. xiii. Ep. 85, calls it "princeps Niliaci macelli," the "prince of the produce of the Nile." That fish, however, Pliny says, B. xxxii. c. 5, was peculiar to the Nile; and he states, B. v. c. 9, that in consequence of finding it in a lake of Lower Mauritania, Juba pretended that the Nile took its rise in that lake. Athenæus says, B. iii., that the dwellers on the Nile called it πέλτη, "the buckler;" and in B. vii., that the people of Alexandria called it πλάταξ from its broad shape. Now, Cuvier remarks, it is well known that the best fish of the Nile at the present day is the bolty, the Labrus Niloticus of Linnæus, and the Chromis Nilotica of his own system, and this he takes to be the Coracinus albus. It is flat and compressed, and when held on the side, would appear almost circular in shape. Its colour appears white in comparison with that of another little fish of the same genus, the Sparus chromis of Linnæus, the Chromis castanea of Cuvier, which is of a brownish colour, and is found on the coast of France, where it has never been held in high esteem, except for the purposes of salting or making bait for other fish. He concludes, then, that this last was the sea coracinus, and the "bolty" of the present day that of the Nile.
10 Cuvier says, that it has been doubted, upon the authority of Paulus Jovius, whether by this name was signified the muræna of the present day, the Muræna helena of Linnæus, or the Petromizon marinus of Linnæus, the modern lamprey. These two fishes, he says, have in common a long smooth body, and are devoid of the symmetrical fins, and the flesh of both is of a delicate flavour. There are, however, several other characteristics mentioned, he says, from which it can be easily proved that in most of the passages of Pliny, Aristotle, and Ælian, where the muræna is mentioned, it is the Muræna helena that is meant. Ovid says, Halieut. 11. 114, 115, "the muræna burning with its spots of gold"—but the lamprey has no yellow spots whatever: and in 1. 27, he speaks of it as "ferox," or "fierce," a characteristic which also belongs to the muræna, but not to the lamprey. Ælian also states, B. x. c. 40, that the muræna defends itself with its teeth, which form a double row, and Aristotle says, B. viii. c. 2, that it lives upon flesh; while Pliny says, in c. 88 of the present Book, that it bites off the tail of the conger. It was the Muræna helena only, and not the lamprey, that could have devoured the slaves whom Vedius Pollio ordered to be thrown into their preserves, as is mentioned by our author in the present Book, and by Seneca and Tertullian. Finally, a thing that he considers quite decisive on the point, Aristotle says, B. ii. c. 13, that the muræna has four gills on each side, like the eel; while the fact is that the lamprey has only seven in all. Where we find Pliny speaking of the seven spots upon the muræna found in Northern Gaul, it appears most likely, Cuvier says, that he speaks after some traveller, who had observed the seven branchial orifices on the lamprey, and had taken them for spots.
11 This fish, Cuvier says, was of a reddish colour, had rough scales, sharp teeth, large eyes, and a tough flesh. It lived a solitary life in the sea, near rocks which were the resort of shell-fish, which formed its principal nutriment. It passed the winter in the crevices of rocks under water. Its growth was rapid, and the length of its life two years; when cut in pieces, its muscles, were still seen to palpitate. Rondelet, having gathered these characteristics, looks upon the orphus as belonging to the genus Pagrus. Cuvier says, however, that it would not be easy to prove that this is a warranted conclusion, and that it is not justified by tradition, as the name has utterly disappeared from the coasts of France and Italy; though, according to Gillius and Belon, it is found among the modern Greeks, in the shape of the "ropho." Cuvier suggests that it may have been the Anthias sacer of Bloch, the "barbier" of the French.—It is supposed by some that it is our "gilt-head."
12 The Muræna conger of Linnæus.
13 "Percæ." Cuvier says that it is most probable that he is Lere speaking of this opinion, he says, and the serran [our trumpet-fish] which bears this resemblance, is in many parts of Italy, at the present day, called the "Percia marina."
14 The Raia torpedo of Linnæus.
15 Cuvier states, that Athenæus, B. vii., says that the psetta was the same as the rhombus of the Romans, the modern turbot, the Pleuronectes maximus of Linnæus. From a passage, however, of Aristotle, Hist. Anim. B. ix. c. 37, he feels convinced that it is the Pleuronectes rhombus of Linnæus, the barbue of the French, and with us the dab or sandling. Aristotle says in that passage, that it is in the habit of concealing itself in the sand, while it moves to and fro the filaments around the mouth, and so attracts the little fish. These filaments, Cuvier says, are small radii of the anterior part of the dorsal fin, which form a sort of fringe around the mouth, whence its French name of barbue. The turbot has no such filaments.
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