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At the present day, the first place is given to the scarus,1 the only fish that is said to ruminate, and to feed on grass and not on other fish. It is mostly found in the Carpathian Sea, and never of its own accord passes Lectum,2 a promontory of Troas. Optatus Elipertius, the commander of the fleet under the Emperor Claudius, had this fish brought from that locality, and dispersed in various places off the coast between Ostia and the districts of Campania. During five years, the greatest care was taken that those which were caught should be returned to the sea; but since then they have been always found in great abundance off the shores of Italy, where formerly there were none to be taken. Thus has gluttony introduced these fish, to be a dainty within its reach, and added a new inhabitant to the seas; so that we ought to feel no surprise that foreign birds breed at Rome.

The fish that is next in estimation for the table is the mustela,3 but that is valued only for its liver. A singular thing to tell of—the lake of Brigantia,4 in Rhætia, lying in the midst of the Alps, produces them to rival even those of the sea.5

1 Cuvier says that this fish held, as Pliny here states, the very highest place at the Roman tables, and was especially famous: First, because it was supposed to ruminate; in allusion to which, Ovid says, Halieut. 1. 118, "But, on the other hand, some fishes extend themselves on the sands covered with weeds, as the scarus, which fish alone ruminates the food it has eaten." Secondly, because, as Aristotle, B. viii. c. 2, and Ælian, B. i. c. 2, inform us, it lived solely on vegetables. Thirdly, because it had the faculty of producing a sound, as we learn from Oppian, Halieut. B. i. 1. 134, and Suidas. Fourthly, for its salacious propensities, numbers being taken by means of a female attached to a string, Oppian, Halieut. B. iv. 1. 78, and Ælian, B. i. c. 2. Fifthly, for its remarkable sagacity in affording assistance to another, when taken in the net; relative to which Ovid has the following curious passage, Halieut. 1. 9, et seq. "The scarus is caught by stratagem beneath the waves, and at length dreads the bait fraught with treachery. It dares not strike the osiers with an effort of its head; but, turning away, as it loosens the twigs with frequent blows of its tail, it makes its passage, and escapes safely into the deep. Moreover, if perchance any kind scarus, swimming behind, sees it struggling within the osiers, he takes hold of its tail in his mouth, as it is thus turned away, and so it makes its escape." Oppian, Halieut. B. iv. 1. 40, and Ælian, Hist. Anim. B. i. c. 4, mention the same circumstance. We find that it was highly esteemed by the Roman epicures, even in early times, it being mentioned by Ennius and Horace. It was salted with the intestines in it; and Martial, B. xiii. Ep. 84, seems to speak of it as not being good to eat without them. It was a high-coloured fish, so much so, that Marcellus Sidetes called it "floridum," while by Oppian it is called ποικίλον, or "variegated." Rondelet thinks that it was one of spari or the labri, while Belon describes as such, a fish now unknown to zoologists, the tail of which, he says, has projecting spines. Aldrovandus calls it by the name of Scarus Cretensis, a species of the genus which at present goes by the name of Scarus, and which is distinguished by osseous jaw-bones, resembling in shape the beak of a parrot. Cuvier says, that on finding from Belon that the name σκάρος was still in use in the Ægean Sea, he ordered the various kinds of it to be brought to Paris; upon which he found that they exactly resembled the Scarus Cretensis of Aldrovandus, and he consequently has no doubt that it is essentially the same fish as the scarus of the Greeks and Romans. From the resemblance above stated, it is not uncommonly called the "parrotfish;" while by some it has been thought to have resembled our char.

2 See B. v. cc. 32, 41.

3 Or weasel-fish. Cuvier is of opinion that Hardouin is right in his conjecture, that this is the Lote, or Gadus lota of Linnæus, which is still called motelle in some of the provinces of France. Its liver, he says, is one of the greatest delicacies that can be eaten.

4 The present Boden See, or Lake of Constance.

5 Instead of "marinis," Sillig adopts the reading "murænis," making them to rival the muræna even. The other, however, seems to be the pre- ferable reading.

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