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The first person who formed artificial oyster-beds was Ser- gius Orata,1 who established them at Baiæ, in the time of L. Crassus, the orator, just before the Marsic War. This was done by him, not for the gratification of gluttony, but of avarice, as he contrived to make a large income by this exercise of his ingenuity. He was the first, too, to invent hanging baths,2 and after buying villas and trimming them up, he would every now and then sell them again.3 He, too, was the first to adjudge the pre-eminence for delicacy of flavour to the oysters of Lake Lucrinus;4 for every kind of aquatic animal is superior in one place to what it is in another. Thus, for instance, the wolf-fish of the river Tiber is the best that is caught between the two bridges,5 and the turbot of Ravenna is the most esteemed, the murena of Sicily, the elops of Rhodes; the same, too, as to the other kinds, not to go through all the items of the culinary catalogue. The British6 shores had not as yet sent their supplies, at the time when Orata thus ennobled the Lucrine oysters: at a later period, however, it was thought worth while to fetch oysters all the way from Brundisium, at the very extremity of Italy; and in order that there might exist no rivalry7 between the two flavours, a plan has been more recently hit upon, of feeding the oysters of Brundisium in Lake Lucrinus, famished as they must naturally be after so long a journey.

1 He was a contemporary of L. Crassus, and was distinguished for his great wealth, and his love of luxury and refinement, but possessed an unblemished character. His surname, Orata or Aurata, was given to him, it is said, because he was remarkably fond of gold-fish—auratæ pisces—though, according to other authorities, it was because he was in the habit of wearing two very large gold rings.

2 "Pensiles balineas." This expression has been differently rendered by various commentators, but it is now generally supposed to refer to the manner in which the flooring of the bathing rooms was suspended over the hollow cells of the hypocaust or heating furnace. This is called by Vitruvius, "Suspensura caldariorum."

3 "Ita mangonicatas villas subinde vendendo."—By the use of the word "ita," Pliny may possibly mean that he was in the habit of filling up the villas with the "balineæ pensiles," which he had invented. "Mangonizo" was to set off or trim up a thing, that it might sell again all the better.

4 Varro speaks of those of Tarentum, as being the best. The Greeks preferred the oysters of Abydos; the Romans, under the empire, those of Britain.

5 It does not appear to be known what two bridges are here alluded to; the Sublician, or wooden bridge, was probably one of them, and, perhaps, the Palatine bridge was the other. The former was built by Ancus Martius.

6 For some further account of the British oyster, see B. xxxii. c. 21.

7 See B. xxxii c. 21.

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