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Mucianus also relates that he had seen, in the Propontis, another curious resemblance to a ship in full sail.1 There is a shell-fish, he says, with a keel, just like that of the vessel which we know by the name of acatium,2 with the poop curving inwards, and a prow with the beak3 attached. In this shell-fish there lies concealed also an animal known as the nauplius, which bears a strong resemblance to the sæpia, and only adopts the shell-fish as the companion of its pastimes. There are two modes, he says, which it adopts in sailing; when the sea is calm, the voyager hangs down its arms,4 and strikes the water with a pair of oars as it were; but if, on the other hand, the wind invites, it extends them, employing them by way of a helm, and turning the mouth of the shell to the wind. The pleasure experienced by the shell-fish is that of carrying the other, while the amusement of the nauplius consists in steering; and thus, at the same moment, is an instinctive joy felt by these two creatures, devoid as they are of all sense, unless, indeed, a natural antipathy to man—for it is a well-known fact, that to see them thus sailing along, is a bad omen, and that it is portentous of misfortune to those who witness it.

1 Cuvier says, that this is only a reproduction, under another name, and with other details, of the story of the nautilus or argonauta; but under the impression that the polyp is not the animal which owns the shell, but is only its associate. It has also been asserted in modern times, he says, that the polyp has seized this shell by force from some other animal, in order to convert it into its boat; but the opinion has not been adopted, as the shell of the nautilus has been never found in the possession of any other animal.

2 Probably borrowed from the Greeks, who called it ἄκατος. It is supposed to have been a small boat, similar to the Roman "scapha;" like our "skiff" probably.

3 The "rostrum" of the ancient ships of war.

4 "Palmulis." This word also means the blade or broad part of an oar; in which sense it may, perhaps, be here taken.

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