And Diphilus says in his Busybody—
I used to think the race of fishmongersAnd Xenarchus says in his Purple— [p. 357]
Was only insolent in Attica;
But now I see that like wild beasts they are
Savage by nature, everywhere the same.
But here is one who goes beyond his fellows,
Nourishing flowing hair, which he doth call
Devoted to his god-though that is not the reason,
But he doth use it as a veil to hide
The brand which marks his forehead. Should you ask him,
What is this pike's price? he will tell you “tenpence;”
Not say what pence he means; then if you give him
The money, he will claim Aegina's coinage;
While if you ask for change, he'll give you Attic.
And thus he makes a profit on both sides.
Poets are nonsense; for they never say
A single thing that's new. But all they do
Is to clothe old ideas in language new,
Turning the same things o'er and o'er again,
And upside down. But as to fishmongers,
They're an inventive race, and yield to none
In shameless conduct. For as modern laws
Forbid them now to water their stale fish,
Some fellow, hated by the gods, beholding
His fish quite dry, picks with his mates a quarrel,
And blows are interchanged. Then when one thinks
He's had enough, he falls, and seems to faint,
And lies like any corpse among his baskets.
Some one calls out for water; and his partner
Catches a pail, and throws it o'er his friend
So as to sprinkle all his fish, and make
The world believe them newly caught and fresh.