There is also the lamprey. Theophrastus, in the fifth book of his treatise on those Animals which can live on dry Land, says that the eel and the lamprey can exist for a long time out of the water, because they have very small gills, and so receive but very little moisture into their system. But Icesius affirms that they are not less nutritious than the eel, nor even, perhaps, than the conger. And Aristotle, in his treatise on the Parts of Animals, says that from the time that they are little they grow very rapidly, and that they have sharp serrated teeth; and that they keep on laying small-sized eggs every season of the year. But Epicharmus, in his Muses, calls them not σμύραινα, but μύραινα, without the ς; speaking in this way of them:—
No congers fat were wanting, and no lampreys (μύραιναι).And Sophron, too, spells the word in the same manner. But Plato or Cantharus, in his Alliance, spells the word with the ς, saying—
The ray, the lamprey (σμύραινα) too, is here.Dorion, in his treatise on Fishes, says that the river lampreys have only one spine, like the kind of cod which is called gallarias. But Andreas, in his treatise on Poisonous Animals, says that those lampreys which are produced by a cross with the viper have a poisonous bite, and that that kind is less round than the other, and is variegated. But Nicander, in his Theriacus, says—
That is a terrible deed the lamprey does,But Andreas, in his treatise on Things which are believed erroneously, says that it is quite a mistake to suppose that the lamprey ever breeds with the viper when it comes on marshy ground; for that vipers do not themselves feed in marshes, as they are fond rather of sandy and desert places. But Sostratus, in his books on Animals (and there are two books of his on this subject, and with this title), agrees with those who assert that the lamprey and the viper do breed together.
When oft its teeth it gnashes and pursues
Th' unhappy fishermen, and drives them headlong
Out of their boats in haste, when issuing forth
From the deep hole in which it long has lain:
[p. 491] If that the tale is true that it admits
The poisonous viper's love, when it deserts
Its pastures 'neath the sea, for food on land.