Isidore of Seville, who is, let’s face it, quite the hero for BV, named it the “delay,” for obvious reasons In the 1st century CE, Lucan wrote of it as “…the sucking fish / Which holds the vessel back though eastern winds.”
This little sucker was the echeneis, a small fish no more than six inches in length, which made its home in the Indian Ocean, and is said to have clung to ships and delayed their passage. When this fish latches on to a seagoing vessel, the most Shakespearean of gusts or invocations thereof would not move the ship, which would seemed to have become rooted to a fixed point in the roiling sea.
This fish, dear readers, reminds me of someone… another stubborn little bastard. Who could it be? ah, well. It’ll come to me…
In any case, Pliny the Elder elaborated, noting that it is used for making love-charms, and spells to slow litigation, and that it can be used to hold back the birth of a pre-term fetus until term. “This fish” says Pliny, “is not eaten.” “Some say,” says Pliny,” that “this fish has feet.” Pliny is loathe to believe this last tidbit. It’s not particularly that the presence of feet is more far fetched than the efficacy of its presence in charms and spells, but simply that “Aristotle says it does not.” And it’s simply quite gauche to argue with Aristotle—at least, it was in the 1st century.
AHA! I remember now: who could resemble an impedance to progress impervious to either reason or pathos?
Why, it’s the author’s writer’s block, of course- her worst enemy while adrift in the rough seas of dissertation.
yes, it’s one of those days folks. Send the life rafts… And mind the echeneis.