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The Shocking History of Electric FishesFrom Ancient Epochs to the Birth of Modern Neurophysiology$
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Stanley Finger and Marco Piccolino

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780195366723

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195366723.001.0001

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Torpedoes in the Greco-Roman World: Pt. 1. Wonders of Nature Between Science and Myth

Torpedoes in the Greco-Roman World: Pt. 1. Wonders of Nature Between Science and Myth

(p.29) Chapter 3 Torpedoes in the Greco-Roman World: Pt. 1. Wonders of Nature Between Science and Myth
The Shocking History of Electric Fishes

Stanley Finger

Marco Piccolino

Oxford University Press

The ancient Greeks and other people living along the coast of the warm Mediterranean Sea and its branches were very familiar with torpedoes, “a mean and groveling animal armed with lightning, that awful and celestial fire, revered by the ancients as the peculiar attribute of the father of their gods.” This chapter discusses how torpedoes are presented in the texts of some of the most important authors from classical antiquity, in particular Hippocrates, Plato, Aristotle–Theophrastus, and Plutarch from the Greek epoch, and Pliny the Elder from the Roman era. Specifically, it looks at how torpedoes were first used as a food for the sick, how they began to be associated with immobility in literature, what early natural philosophers wrote about them, and how they became the material of myths and legends.

Keywords:   ancient Greeks, torpedoes, hippocrates, Plato, Aristotle–Theophrastus, Plutarch, Pliny the Elder

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