The Remora

Of this fish Pliny writes:--"There is a very small fish that is in the

habit of living among the rocks, and is known as the Echeneis, [Greek:

Apo tou echein neas]. (From holding back ships.) It is believed that

when this has attached itself to the keel of a ship, its progress is

impeded, and that it is from this circumstance that it takes its name.

For this reason, also, it has a disgraceful repute, as being employed

love philtres, and for the purpose of retarding judgments and legal

proceedings.... It is never used, however, for food.... Mucianus speaks

of a Murex of larger size than the purple, with a head that is neither

rough nor round; and the shell of which is single, and falls in folds

on either side. He tells us, also, that some of these creatures once

attached themselves to a ship freighted with children of noble birth,

who were being sent by Periander for the purpose of being castrated, and

that they stopped its course in full sail; and he further says, that the

shell-fish which did this service are duly honoured in the temple of

Venus, at Cnidos. Trebius Niger says that this fish is a foot in length,

and five fingers in thickness, and that it can retard the course of

vessels; besides which, it has another peculiar property--when preserved

in salt, and applied, it is able to draw up gold which has fallen into a

well, however deep it may happen to be."

"But, Clio, wherefore art thou tedious

In numbering Neptune's busie burgers thus?

If in his works thou wilt admire the worth

Of the Sea's Soverain, bring but only forth

One little Fish, whose admirable story

Sufficeth sole to shewe his might and glory.

Let all the Windes, in one Winde gather them,

And (seconded with Neptune's strongest stream)

Let all at once blowe all the stiffest gales

Astern a Galley under all her sails;

Let her be holpen with a hundred Owers,

Each lively handled by five lusty Rowers;

The Remora, fixing her feeble horn

Into the tempest beaten Vessel's Stern,

Stayes her stone still, while all her stout Consorts

Saile thence, at pleasure, to their wished Ports,

Then loose they all the sheats, but to no boot:

For the charm'd Vessell bougeth not a foot;

No more than if, three fadom under ground,

A score of Anchors held her fastly bound:

No more than doth the Oak, that in the Wood,

Hath thousand Tempests, (thousand times) withstood;

Spreading as many massy roots belowe,

As mighty arms above the ground do growe."