White seabreams and goats : an alien love in the context of a ritual and a need


  • ΕΛΕΝΗ ΝΙΚΟΛΙΔΑΚΗ University of Crete




ACCORDING TO Oppian of Cilicia (Halieutica 4.308-373), in hot weather when goat-herds drive their flocks to the sea, the fish sargus (Diplodus sargus, common name white seabream), devoting itself to acts of love, meets the goats and enjoys a unique experience. The scene prompts a fisherman to put himself inside a goat skin and to throw a bait of barley-meal enriched with goat flesh in order to deceive the innocent fish. The whole event includes several terms or phrases referring to Dionysiac worship (the groups of animals as vehicles of action, the goat-herds’ voices, the baths, the ideal time and place for this most peculiar matching of a sea creature with one from the land), which may persuade the readers of Dionysus’ presence, even if he is not named. What is indeed interesting is that the custom quoted by Oppian –in the first part of the scene– used to take place until fairly recently in several mountainous villages of Eastern Crete, providing a pleasant opportunity for the herdsmen to come down to the sea for this feast.

Author Biography

ΕΛΕΝΗ ΝΙΚΟΛΙΔΑΚΗ, University of Crete

Πειραματικό Λύκειο Hρακλείου



How to Cite

ΝΙΚΟΛΙΔΑΚΗ Ε. (2009). White seabreams and goats : an alien love in the context of a ritual and a need. Ariadne, 14, 79–94. https://doi.org/10.26248/ariadne.v14i0.412