“Sea-urchins are tender, full of pleasant juice, with a strong smell, filling, and apt to turn on the stomach; but if eaten with sharp mead, and parsley, and mint, they are good for the stomach, and sweet, and full of pleasant juice. But the sweet-tasted are the red ones, and the apple-coloured, and the thickest, and those which if you scrape their flesh emit a milky liquid. But those which are found near Cephalenia and around Icaria, and in the Adriatic are—at least many of them are—rather bitter; but those which are taken on the rock of Sicily are very aperient to the bowels.” But Aristotle says that there are many kinds of sea-urchins: one of which is eaten, that, namely, in which is found what are called eggs. But the other two kinds are those which are called Spatangi, and those which are called Brysæ: and Sopron mentions the spatangi, and so does Aristophanes in his Olcades, using the following language:—
Tearing up, and separating, and lickingAnd Epicharmus, in his Marriage of Hebe, speaks o the sea-urchins, and says— [p. 152]
My spatange from the bottom.
Then came the crabs, sea-urchins, and all fishAnd Demetrius the Scepsian, in the twenty-sixth book of his Trojan Preparation, says that a Lacedæmonian once being invited to a banquet, when some sea-urchins were put before him on the table, took one, not knowing the proper manner in which it should be eaten, and not attending to those who were in the company to see how they ate it. And so he put it in his mouth with the skin or shell and all, and began to crush the sea-urchin with, his teeth; and being exceedingly disgusted with what he was eating, and not perceiving how to get rid of the roughness of the taste, he said, “O what nasty food! I will not now be so effeminate as to eject it, but I will never take you again.” But the sea-urchins, and indeed the whole echinus tribe, whether living on land or sea, can take care of and protect themselves against those who try to catch them, putting out their thorns, like a sort of palisade. And to this Ion the Chian bears testimony in his Phœnix or in his C$aneus, saying—
Which know not how to swim in the briny sea,
But only walk on foot along the bottom.
But while on land I more approve the conduct
Of the great lion, than the dirty tricks
Of the sea-urchin; he, when he perceives
The impending onset of superior foes,
Rolls himself up, wrapped in his cloak of thorns,
Impregnable in bristly panoply.