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They say, also, that the polypus, when it is in want of food, will eat even itself. And among those who relate this fact is Pherecrates the comic poet; for he, in the play entitled The Countryman, says—
They live on green anthrysca, and on bracana,
And snails and slugs. And when they're very hungry,
Then, like the polypus, they e'en at night
Nibble their fingers.
And Diphilus, in his Merchant, says—
A polypus with all his feelers
And limbs unhurt; whose wicked tooth
Has not devour'd himself, my friend,
Is ready for our supper.
But all this is a mistake; for the fact is, that he is pursued by the congers, and has his feet hurt in that manner. And it is said that if any one strews salt over his hole, he immediately comes out. It is also affirmed, that when he flies in alarm, he changes his colour, and becomes like the places in which he conceals himself. As also Theognis of Megara says, in his Elegies—
Remark the tricks of that most wary polypus,
Who always seems of the same colour and hue
As is the rock near which he lies.
And Clearchus makes a similar statement in the second book of his treatise on Proverbs, where he quotes the following lines, without saying from whose writings they come—
My son, my excellent Amphilochus,
Copy the shrewd device o' the polypus,
And make yourself as like as possible
To those whose land you chance to visit.

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