Tuesday, 12 May 2015

At Last, the Mullets

Readers: The mullets! The mullets! We were promiiised!

In a world where one was alone there could be no victims, and so there could be no cruelty. The result of this phenonemon was a sense that death could be play, death could be theatre. One could become a connoisseur of death just as one was of food, or sex, or violence, or words.

In the Naturales quaestiones Seneca describes the Roman fascination with dying mullets: the fish were removed from basins set up before the banquest couches and enclosed in glass decanters. These invisible and airless containers enabled the diners to observe the marvellous changes in colour undergone by the mullets in the course of their struggle for air and life.

"'There is nothing,' you say, 'more beautiful than a dying surmullet. In the very struggle of its failing breath of life, first a red, then a pale. tint suffuses it, and its scales change hue, and between life and death there is a gradation into subtle shades.'"

Carlin A. Barton "The Sorrows of the Ancient Romans: the Gladiator and the Monster" (1992) p56

There is more, much more, to mullets.

No comments: