But what is the fish which is called the Sacred fish? The author of the Telchinian History, whether it was Epimenides the Cretan, or Teleclides, or any one else, says,—“What are called the sacred fish, are dolphins and pompili.” But the pompilus is a very amorous animal; as being sprung himself, at the same time with Venus, from heavenly blood. And Nicander, in the second book of his Œtaica, says—
The pompilus, who points the safest roadAnd Alexander the Aetolian, in his Crica, if indeed it is a genuine poem, says—
To anxious mariners who burn with love,
And without speaking warns them against danger.
Still did the pompilus direct the helm,And Pancrates the Arcadian, in his work entitled “Works of the Sea,” having first said—
Swimming behind, and guide it down the gulf,
The minister of the gods, the sacred pompilus.
The pompilus, whom all sea-faring menproceeds to say, “that the pompilus is not held in great esteem by Neptune only, but also by those gods who occupy Samothrace. At all events that some old fisherman once threatened to punish this fish, when the golden age still flourished among men; and his name was Epopeus, and he belonged to the island of Icarus. He therefore was one day fishing with his son, and they had no luck in their fishing, and caught nothing but pompili, and so did not abstain from eating them, but he and his son ate every one of them, and not long afterwards they suffered for their impiety; for a whale attacked the ship, and ate up Epopeus in the sight of his son.” And Pancrates states, "that the pompilus is an enemy to the dolphin; and even the dolphin does not escape with impunity when he has eaten a pompilus, for he becomes unable to exert himself and tremulous when he has eaten [p. 445] him; and so he gets cast on shore, and is eaten himself by the gulls and cormorants; and he is sometimes, when in this state, caught by men who give themselves up to hunting such large fish. And Timachides the Rhodian mentions the pom- pili in the ninth book of his Banquet, and says—
Do call the sacred fish;
The tench o' the sea, and then the pompili,And Erinna, or whoever it was who composed the poet which is attributed to her, says—
The holiest of fish.
O pompilus, thou fish who dost bestow
A prosp'rous voyage on the hardy sailor,
Conduct (πομπεύσαις) my dear companion safely home.