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An ancient battle, a sea-born creature and a detail from an ancient map

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  • An ancient battle, a sea-born creature and a detail from an ancient map

    Hello folks, as a (mostly) reader-only of this forum, I am back with a problem. A couple of years ago you helped me answering a difficult riddlelike question, so I will try again. I am looking for an ancient battle. There are two paths given to answer this question.

    A map, probably part of an atlas, contains the drawing shown in the picture attattched. The creature shown - the drawing does not represent its real shape - was mentioned in ancient works by Aristoteles and Plinius the elder. It comes in swarms and is said to be dangerous for shipping. I think its teredo navalis, the naval shipworm, as mentioned in the historia naturalis of Plinius. This creature is said to have influnced the outcome of an ancient battle. I am searching for this specific battle.

    The map itself is part of an ancient atlas, of which only one exists. The man who has drawn it has experienced himself the devastating effects of this creature. The map is based on the knowledge this man has acquired as the treasurer of all the experiences and knowledge of a seagoing nation.

    So this is it. I am stuck with this question since I cannot find out exactly who the creature is. Likewise, the list of ancient battles, whether naval ones or landbound with elements of the sea, is endless.

    So maybe some of you have the special knowledge needed to identify the battle. I would appreciate your help very much!
    Attached Files

  • #2
    It is I think a Remora or sucker fish. There was an ancient superstition referred to by Pliny, Plutarch, Athenagus, Lucan and Oppian as it being able to stop a ship dead in the water. Ovid said of it There, too, is the little sucking fish, wondrous to behold, a vast obstruction to ships."
    It was still believed by some as late as Nelsons time
    Mark Anthony was said to have lost the Battle of Actium because one delayed his galley
    Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
    Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

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    • #3
      Further to this
      In 77–79 AD, Pliny published his enormous Naturalis Historia encyclopedia, one of the largest single texts we have left from the Roman Empire. In it, he describes the phenomenon of the 'ship-holder' - an eel-sized fish with a suction disc that could bring warships to a halt despite the force of violent seas, whirlwinds, and storms. And not just any warships: Pliny blamed remoras for the defeat of Mark Antony at the Battle of Actium in 31 BC and hints that they were indirectly responsible for the assassination of Gaius Caligula.
      Scientific American February 4, 2013 http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/...harksucker.jpg

      Pliny may have been a Roman Admiral but he was also amazingly credulous.
      Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
      Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

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      • #4
        Looks like a sea pig to me.
        Hyperwar: World War II on the World Wide Web
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        • #5
          Originally posted by OpanaPointer View Post
          Looks like a sea pig to me.
          As Sea Pigs are extremofiles from the deepest oceans it would seem a mite unlikely that the ancients would have the slightest awareness of them
          Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
          Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

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          • #6
            Originally posted by MarkV View Post
            As Sea Pigs are extremofiles from the deepest oceans it would seem a mite unlikely that the ancients would have the slightest awareness of them
            Exactly. But I was referring to the ones that you find only on old maps of the world. Those maps were pretty fanciful, with dragons, sea-serpents, etc. I lump the lot under the term "sea pigs".
            Hyperwar: World War II on the World Wide Web
            Hyperwar, Whats New
            World War II Resources
            The best place in the world to "work".

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            • #7
              Originally posted by OpanaPointer View Post
              Exactly. But I was referring to the ones that you find only on old maps of the world. Those maps were pretty fanciful, with dragons, sea-serpents, etc. I lump the lot under the term "sea pigs".
              As the OP stated that the illustration was not of the actual creature I'm not sure where this gets us.
              Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
              Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

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              • #8
                Thank you for the new ideas!

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by MarkV View Post
                  As the OP stated that the illustration was not of the actual creature I'm not sure where this gets us.
                  Of course it isn't, I doubt that the "actual creature" ever existed.
                  Hyperwar: World War II on the World Wide Web
                  Hyperwar, Whats New
                  World War II Resources
                  The best place in the world to "work".

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by MarkV View Post
                    It is I think a Remora or sucker fish. There was an ancient superstition referred to by Pliny, Plutarch, Athenagus, Lucan and Oppian as it being able to stop a ship dead in the water. Ovid said of it There, too, is the little sucking fish, wondrous to behold, a vast obstruction to ships."
                    It was still believed by some as late as Nelsons time
                    Mark Anthony was said to have lost the Battle of Actium because one delayed his galley
                    This is it, thank you, Mark.
                    I even found the map, which is the one Sebastian Cabot made, only one is left. Cabot was Pilot Mayor of the spanish Casa de Contratación and upon studying the map i found the drawing of creature. Plinius is mentioned in the opening sentence of the text above the drawing, further translation will take some time, my spanish is very rudimentary
                    Attached Files

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