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History of Animals   


he represents the eagle that presided over the auguries as in the
act of drinking; all other birds drink, but drink sparingly, as is the
case also with all other spongy-lunged oviparous animals. Sickness
in birds may be diagnosed from their plumage, which is ruffled when
they are sickly instead of lying smooth as when they are well.
19

The majority of fishes, as has been stated, thrive best in rainy
seasons. Not only have they food in greater abundance at this time,
but in a general way rain is wholesome for them just as it is for
vegetation-for, by the way, kitchen vegetables, though artificially
watered, derive benefit from rain; and the same remark applies even to
reeds that grow in marshes, as they hardly grow at all without a
rainfall. That rain is good for fishes may be inferred from the fact
that most fishes migrate to the Euxine for the summer; for owing to
the number of the rivers that discharge into this sea its water is
exceptionally fresh, and the rivers bring down a large supply of food.
Besides, a great number of fishes, such as the bonito and the
mullet, swim up the rivers and thrive in the rivers and marshes. The
sea-gudgeon also fattens in the rivers, and, as a rule, countries
abounding in lagoons furnish unusually excellent fish. While most
fishes, then, are benefited by rain, they are chiefly benefited by
summer rain; or we may state the case thus, that rain is good for
fishes in spring, summer, and autumn, and fine dry weather in
winter. As a general rule what is good for men is good for fishes
also.
Fishes do not thrive in cold places, and those fishes suffer
most in severe winters that have a stone in their head, as the
chromis, the basse, the sciaena, and the braize; for owing to the
stone they get frozen with the cold, and are thrown up on shore.
Whilst rain is wholesome for most fishes, it is, on the
contrary, unwholesome for the mullet, the cephalus, and the
so-called marinus, for rain superinduces blindness in most of these
fishes, and all the more rapidly if the rainfall be superabundant. The
cephalus is peculiarly subject to this malady in severe winters; their
eyes grow white, and when caught they are in poor condition, and
eventually the disease kills them. It would appear that this disease
is due to extreme cold even more than to an excessive rainfall; for
instance, in many places and more especially in shallows off the coast
of Nauplia, in the Argolid, a number of fishes have been known to be
caught out at sea in seasons of severe cold. The gilthead also suffers
in winter; the acharnas suffers in summer, and loses condition. The
coracine is exceptional among fishes in deriving benefit from drought,
and this is due to the fact that heat and drought are apt to come
together.
Particular places suit particular fishes; some are naturally
fishes of the shore, and some of the deep sea, and some are at home in
one or the other of these regions, and others are common to the two
and are at home in both. Some fishes will thrive in one particular
spot, and in that spot only. As a general rule it may be said that
places abounding in weeds are wholesome; at all events, fishes
caught in such places are exceptionally fat: that is, such fishes a
a habit all sorts of localities as well. The fact is that
weed-eating fishes find abundance of their special food in such
localities, and carnivorous fish find an unusually large number of
smaller fish. It matters also whether the wind be from the north or
south: the longer fish thrive better when a north wind prevails, and
in summer at one and the same spot more long fish will be caught
than flat fish with a north wind blowing.
The tunny and the sword-fish are infested with a parasite
about the rising of the Dog-star; that is to say, about this time both
these fishes have a grub beside their fins that is nicknamed the
'gadfly'. It resembles the scorpion in shape, and is about the size of
the spider. So acute is the pain it inflicts that the sword-fish

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