This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
2 The coasts of La Manche, Cuvier says, and the Gulf of Gascony produce a kind of mullet of larger size than usual, varied with stripes of a yellow colour. This, the Mullus surmuletus of Linnæus, is also to be found in the Mediterranean, but much more rarely than the smaller kind, which is red all over.
3 Aristotle, Hist. Anim. B. viii c. 5; Ælian, Hist. Anim. B. ii. c. 41; and Oppian, Halieut. B. iii. 1. 435.
4 Hardouin says that it is larger than the sea-mullet; and that it dwells in muddy or slimy spots in the vicinity of the sea-shore.
5 Aristotle, Hist. Anim. B. viii. c. 5.
6 Probably from the fact of its living in the mud. "Doctors differ" on this point. Aristotle, Hist. Anim. B. viii. c. 16, says that shore-fish are superior to those caught out at sea; while Seneca, on the other hand, Nat. Quæst. B. iii. c. 18, says that rock-fish and those caught out at sea are the best.
7 He would almost seem to imply by this that they feed upon shell-fish: but Hardouin has a note to the effect, that Pliny does not mean that they live on shell-fish, as it would be impossible for them to break the shell to devour the fish within, but only that they have the same flavour as shellfish. But query as to this explanation.
8 On the other hand, Isidorus says that the mullet-coloured shoes were so called from the colour of the fish, which, indeed, is most probable. These shoes were made of a kind of red Parthian leather, probably not unlike our morocco leather. Festus seems to say that they were worn in general by all the patricians; but the passage of Varro which he quotes, only shows that they were worn by the curule magistrates, the consul, prætor, and curule ædile.
10 Seneca has a passage on this subject, Quæst. Nat. B. iii. c. 18, which strongly bespeaks the barbarous tastes of the Romans. He says: "A mul- let even, if just caught, is thought little of, unless it is allowed to die in the hand of your guest. They are carried about enclosed in globes of glass, and their colour is watched as they die, which is changed by the struggles of death into various shades and hues." And again: "There is nothing, you say, more beautiful than the colours of the dying mullet; as it struggles and breathes forth its life, it is first purple, and then a paleness gradually comes over it; and then, placed as it is between life and death, an uncertain hue comes over it."
11 This anchovy, pickle, or fish-sauce, will be found more fully spoken of in B. xxxi. c. 44.
12 Alecem. See B. xxxi. c. 44. Seneca speaks of this cruel custom of pickling fish alive, Quæst. Nat. B. iii. c. 17. "Other fish, again, they kill in sauces, and pickle them alive. There are some persons who look upon it as quite incredible that a fish should be able to live under-ground. How much more so would it appear to them, if they were to hear of a fish swimming in sauce, and that the chief dish of the banquet was killed at the banquet, feeding the eye before it does the gullet?"
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.