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We find three1 kinds of sponges mentioned; the first are thick, very hard, and rough, and are called "tragi:"2 the second, are thick, and much softer, and are called "mani;"3 of the third, being fine and of a closer texture, tents for sores are made; this last is known as "Achillium."4 All of these sponges grow on rocks, and feed upon5 shell-and other fish, and slime. It would appear that these creatures, too, have some intelligence; for as soon as ever they feel6 the hand about to tear them off, they contract themselves, and are separated with much greater difficulty: they do the same also when the waves buffet them to and fro. The small shells that are found in them, clearly show that they live upon food: about Torone7 it is even said that they will survive after they have been detached, and that they grow again from the roots which have been left adhering to the rock. They leave a colour similar to that of blood upon the rock from which they have been detached, and those more especially which are produced in the Syrtes of Africa.8

The manos is the one that grows to the largest size, but the softest of all are those found in the vicinity of Lycia. Where the sea is deep and calm, they are more particularly soft, while those which are found in the Hellespont are rough, and those in the vicinity of Malea coarse.9 When lying in places exposed to the sun, they become putrid: hence it is that those which are found in deep water are the best. While they are alive, they are of the same blackish colour that they are when saturated with water. They adhere to the rock not by one part only, nor yet by the whole body: and within them there are a number of empty tubes, generally four or five in number, by means of which, it is thought, they take their food. There are other tubes also, but these are closed at the upper extremity; and a sort of membrane is supposed to be spread beneath the roots by which they adhere. It is well known that sponges are very long-lived. The most inferior kind of all are those which are called "aplysiæ,"10 because it is impossible to clean them: these have large tubes, while the other parts of them are thick and coarse.

1 Cuvier remarks, that there are a great many more than three kinds of sponges, but that Pliny here is only enumerating those which were employed for domestic use.

2 In the singular, "tragus," from the Greek τραγὸς, a goat, on account of their strong smell, which they contract from the mud and slime in which they are found.

3 Probably from the Greek μάνος, "rare," "in small quantities;" in allusion to the comparative rarity of this kind of sponge.

4 A term merely used, as Cælius Rhodiginus says, to denote the strength of its texture.

5 Cuvier says, that though sometimes shells and small animals are found lodged in the sponge, they do not afford it any nourishment. Having no mouth, it can only live and increase by the inhalation of substances dissolved in the water of the sea.

6 "Sensere." Cuvier says, that many observers have stated that this is the only sign of animal life that the sponge affords; but that Grant assures us that it does not even afford that. The fact is, however, that "the sponge itself is a cellular, fibrous tissue, produced by small animals, almost imperceptible, called polypi, and living in the sea. This tissue is said to be covered in its native state with a sort of semifluid thin coat of animal jelly, susceptible of a slight contraction or trembling on being touched; which, in fact, is the only symptom of vitality displayed by the sponge. After death, this gelatinous substance disappears, and leaves only the skeleton or sponge, formed by the combination of a multitude of small capillary tubes, capable of receiving water in the interior, and of becoming thereby distended. Though different in their nature, sponges are analogous in their formation to coral. On being examined with a power of about 500 linear, the fleshy matter of the living sponge is to be distinctly observed, having in its interior gemmæ, which are considered to be the young. These are occasionally given off from the mass of living matter. The greater portion of the mass of sponge consists of small cylindrical threads or fibres, varying in size. The spiculæ are not found within these, but in the large and flattened fibres, and varying in number from one to three or more, imbedded in their substance." From Brande's Dictionary.

7 See B. iv. c. 17.

8 This, to the end of the Chapter, is almost verbatim from Aristotle, Hist. Anim. B. iv. c. 17.

9 See B. iv. cc. 8, 10.

10 ᾿απλυσίαι, from ά, "not," and πλύνω, "to wash." These aplysiæ or halcyones, Cuvier says, are a kind of sponge, of too thick and compact a nature to admit of their being washed. It is arbitrarily, he says, that Linnæus has applied this name to a species of the molluskæ, which is, in reality, the sea-hare of the ancients.

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