Page:Natural History, Mollusca.djvu/46

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34
MOLLUSCA.

handed down from the ancient Greeks and Romans. The classics frequently allude to them as among the greatest delicacies. At the nuptial feast of Iphicrates a hundred Polypi and Sepiæ were served up. Among the Greeks generally they were disguised with various condiments and sauces; and the Poulpe, or Many-feet, (Polypus, the Octopus of modern zoology) was the most highly esteemed. Dr. Johnston quotes the "good old story" of Philoxenus in illustration of the gourmand taste for this ill-looking Cephalopod.


 "Of all fish-eaters,
None, sure, excell'd the Lyric bard, Philoxenus.
'Twas a prodigious twist! At Syracuse,
Fate threw him on the fish call'd 'Many-feet.'
He purchased it, and drest it; and the whole,
Bate me the head, form'd but a single swallow.
A crudity ensued—the doctor came,
And the first glance inform'd him things went wrong.
And 'Friend,' quoth he, 'if thou hast aught to set
In order, to it straight;—pass but seven hours,
And thou and life must take a long farewell.'
'I've nought to do,' replied the bard, 'all's right
And tight about me.  . . . .
. . . . .I were loath, howe'er,
To troop with less than all my gear about me;—
Good doctor, be my helper then to what
Remains of that same blessed Many-feet.' "


Snails appear to have found equal favour with the ancients. The Romans were accustomed to keep these animals in snail-sties, or Cochlearia, where they fattened them with nutritive pastes artificially made. The species was probably the Helix pomatia, which is considerably larger than our garden snail, but the dimensions which they are said to have attained under these favourable