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1 Aristotle, Hist. Anim. B. viii. c. 34; Ælian, Hist. Anim. B. xii. c. 48. Rondelet is of opinion that this mæna was the fish still called menola by the people of Liguria and Rome. It was a fish little valued, and we find it called by Martial, "inutilis mæna," B. xii. Epigr. 30. Cuvier says, that if it does not change from white to black, as Pliny states, its colours are much more lively in the spring. It also has an offensive smell at certain times, as is noticed by Aristotle, Hist. Anim. B. viii. c. 30, and to which Martial alludes in the above epigram. Ovid also mentions it as a fish of no value; held, in all probability, in the same degree of estimation as a sprat with us. It is, no doubt, the Sparus mæna of Linnæus.
2 We learn from Aristotle, B. viii. c. 30, that the phycis was a whitish fish, which in the spring assumed a variegated colour. In an Epigram of Apollonides it is called "red;" and Speusippus, as quoted in Athenæus, B. v., says that it is similar to the perch and the channe. Ovid speaks of it as frequenting the shore, and Oppian represents it as dwelling among the sea-weed on the rocks. It also lived on shrimps, and its flesh was light and wholesome; while its most singular property was that of making its nest among the fucus or sea-weed, whence its name. All these characteristics, Cuvier says, are to be found, from what Olivi states, in the "go" of the Venetians, found in the Adriatic, the Gobius of Linnæus; the male of which in the spring makes a nest of the roots of the zostera in the mud, in which the female lays her eggs, which are fecundated by itself, and then protected by it against the attacks of enemies. This is probably the fish that is alluded to by Ovid, Halieut. 1. 121, "The fish that imitates, beneath the waves, the pretty nests of the birds."
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