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Belonging to the genus of polypi is the animal known as the ozæna,1 being so called from the peculiarly strong smell exhaled by the head;2 in consequence of which, the mu- rænæ3 pursue it with the greatest eagerness. The polypi keep themselves concealed for two months in the year; they do not live beyond two4 years, and always die of consumption, the females even sooner,5 and mostly after bringing forth. I must not omit here the observations which L. Lucullus, the proconsul of Bætica, made with reference to the polypus, and which Trebius Niger, one of his suite, has published. He says that it is remarkably fond of shell-fish, and that these, the moment that they feel themselves touched by it, close their valves, and cut off the feelers of the polypus, thus making a meal at the expense of the plunderer. Shellfish are destitute of sight, and, indeed, all other sensations but those which warn them of hunger and the approach of danger. Hence it is, that the polypus lies in ambush6 till the fish opens its shell, immediately upon which, it places within it a small pebble, taking care, at the same time, to keep it from touching the body of the animal, lest, by making some movement, it should chance to eject it. Having made itself thus secure, it attacks its prey, and draws out the flesh, while the other tries to contract itself, but all in vain, in consequence of the separation of the shell, thus effected by the insertion of the wedge. So great is the instinctive shrewdness in animals that are otherwise quite remarkable for their lumpish stupidity.

In addition to the above, the same author states, that there is not an animal in existence, that is more dangerous for its powers of destroying a human being7 when in the water. Embracing his body, it counteracts his struggles, and draws him under with its feelers and its numerous suckers, when, as often is the case, it happens to make an attack upon a shipwrecked mariner or a child. If, however, the animal is turned over, it loses all its power; for when it is thrown upon the back, the arms open of themselves.

The other particulars, which the same author has given, appear still more closely to border upon the marvellous. At Carteia,8 in the preserves there, a polypus was in the habit of coming from the sea to the9 pickling-tubs that were left open, and devouring the fish laid in salt there—for it is quite astonishing how eagerly all sea-animals follow even the very smell of salted condiments, so much so, that it is for this reason, that the fishermen take care to rub the inside of the wicker fish-kipes10 with them.—At last, by its repeated thefts and immoderate depredations, it drew down upon itself the wrath of the keepers of the works. Palisades were placed before them, but these the polypus managed to get over by the aid of a tree,11 and it was only caught at last by calling in the assistance of trained dogs, which surrounded it at night, as it was returning to its prey; upon which, the keepers, awakened by the noise, were struck with alarm at the novelty of the sight presented. First of all, the size of the polypus was enormous beyond all conception; and then it was covered all over with dried brine, and exhaled a most dreadful stench. Who could have expected to find a polypus there, or could have recognized it as such under these circumstances? They really thought that they were joining battle with some monster, for at one instant, it would drive off the dogs by its horrible fumes,12 and lash at them with the extremities of its feelers; while at another, it would strike them with its stronger arms, giving blows with so many clubs, as it were; and it was only with the greatest difficulty that it could be dispatched with the aid of a considerable number of three-pronged fish-spears. The head of this animal was shewn to Lucullus; it was in size as large as a cask of fifteen amphoræ, and had a beard,13 to use the expressions of Trebius himself, which could hardly be encircled with both arms, full of knots, like those upon a club, and thirty feet in length; the suckers or calicules,14 as large as an urn, resembled a basin in shape, while the teeth again were of a corresponding largeness: its remains, which were carefully preserved as a curiosity, weighed seven hundred pounds. The same author also informs us, that specimens of the sæpia and the loligo have been thrown up on the same shores of a size fully as large: in our own seas15 the loligo is sometimes found five cubits in length, and the sæpia, two. These animals do not live beyond two years.

1 From ὄζω, "to emit an odour." This was a small kind of polypus.

2 Cuvier remarks that, in this Chapter, there are many details relative to the polypus, that have not been observed by modern naturalists; but they may have been observed by the Greeks, upon whose shores and islands the animal was much more frequently to be found than in the west of Europe.

3 Oppian, Halieut. B. ii. 1. 260, describes the battles of these animals with the polypus. He also says, B. iii. c. 198, that they are attracted by the smell of the flesh of the polypus, and so are easily taken.

4 Aristotle, Hist. Anim. B. ix. c. 59.

5 Oppian, Halieut. B. i. 1. 551, says, that they hardly live a year; and Ælian, Hist. Anim. B. vi. c. 28, states to a similar effect.

6 Basil attributes a similar craftiness to the crab; Hexaem. Homil. vii.

7 The fishermen at the present day, upon the coast of Normandy, say that the polypus, which they call the chatrou, is a most formidable enemy to swimmers and divers; for when it has embraced any of the limbs with—its tentacles, it adheres with such tenacity, that it is quite impossible for a person to disengage himself, or to move any of his limbs.

8 In Spain; see B. iii. c. 3. Ælian, Hist. Anim. B. vi. c. 13, tells a similar story about a polypus at Puteoli.

9 "Lacus ;" large tubs used in the process of pickling. This story, Cuvier observes, is only surpassed by those told by the Norwegians relative to the "kraken" of their seas, which, according to some versions of the fable, is a polypus of such vast size, that sailors have sometimes mistaken it for an island.

10 "Nassis." The "nassa" was a contrivance for catching fish by the junction of osier or willow rods. It was probably made in the shape of a large bottle with a narrow mouth, and placed with the mouth facing the current. Aristotle, Hist. Anim. B. iv. c. 8, states, that the fishermen, when they were desirous of bringing the fish out of their holes, were in the habit of rubbing the mouth of the holes with salted flesh.

11 Oppian, Halieut. B. i. c. 310, tells a story of a polypus, of the ozæna species, that was in the habit of climbing trees, and plundering the fruit.

12 "Afflatu terribili." This, as Hardouin says, may either mean its had smell, or stinking water, ejected from its canal.

13 Its arms or feelers. The amphora, as a measure of capacity, held about nine English gallons.

14 "Caliculis;" literally, "little glasses." Its "acetabula," or suckers, are so called from their peculiar shape.

15 Aristotle, Hist. Anim. B. iv. c. 2, says the same; but, as Hardouin observes, he must mean the Ionian sea.

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