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Mark Antony Catches a Kipper : The surprisingly sensitive Roman commander was hoping to impress a girl with his angling skills.
Mark Antony Catches a Kipper

From ‘Life of Antony’, by Plutarch (?46-120), translated by Bernadotte Perrin (1920).

After Julius Caesar was murdered in 44 BC, his nephew Octavian joined forces with Marcus Aemilius Lepidus and Marcus Antonius (Mark Antony) to avenge him at the Battle of Philippi. Rome’s possessions were divided among the three victors, and Mark Antony was granted Egypt, at that time ruled by Cleopatra VII Philopator.

HE [Mark Antony] was fishing once, and had bad luck, and was vexed at it because Cleopatra was there to see. He therefore ordered his fishermen to dive down and secretly fasten to his hook some fish that had been previously caught, and pulled up two or three of them.

But the Egyptian saw through the trick, and pretending to admire her lover’s skill, told her friends about it, and invited them to be spectators of it the following day. So great numbers of them got into the fishing boats, and when Antony had let down his line, she ordered one of her own attendants to get the start of him by swimming onto his hook and fastening on it a salted Pontic herring.*

Antony thought he had caught something, and pulled it up, whereupon there was great laughter, as was natural, and Cleopatra said: “Imperator,* hand over thy fishing-rod to the fishermen of Pharos and Canopus;* thy sport is the hunting of cities, realms, and continents.”

* Pontus was the Roman name for a region of Asia Minor (now Turkey) on the southern coast of the Black Sea. The Pontic Empire was conquered by the Romans in 63 BC.

* ‘Imperator’ is the source of our word Emperor, but at this time meant simply Commander.

* The Pharos was the lighthouse of Alexandria, built in the 3rd century BC and in its heyday one of the Seven Wonders of the World, but a series of earthquakes from the 10th to the 14th centuries ruined it; Canopus was a port at the Nile Delta, some 16 miles to the east of Alexandria.

From ‘Life of Antony’, by Plutarch (?46-120), translated by Bernadotte Perrin (1920).

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Picture: © Fortysix Vie, Geograph. Licence: CC-BY-SA 2.0. View original
Herring in a smokehouse in the Netherlands. In Britain, salted and dried herrings, or kippers, were something of a national dish until the Second World War, and several places still take pride in locally-produced kippers, including the Northumberland village of Craster.
By Plutarch
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