Klaus Alpers has recently recovered from the obscurity of Byzantine lexica the fragments of what appears to be a novel dating from
c.A.D. 100, and notable to us, as it was for the Byzantine excerptor, for the elegant verbal borrowings from ancient comedy, always a favourite source of good Attic Greek for the atticists of imperial times. One of these glosses gives occasion to look again at fishing metaphors for erotic business, a subject discussed often enough by scholars, but still perhaps capable of revealing new nuances. These hunting and fishing metaphors are used as one would expect in many non-amatory contexts, but in both love poetry and its allied genres they occur throughout antiquity in such quantity that the metaphorical complexity reaches into very allusive language. Long ago Preston had already pointed out that ‘Figures from hunting, fowling and fishing as parallel to the arts of the meretrix, are very frequent, and are developed at unusual length.’ There was undoubtedly a realistic side to all of this metaphorical hunting. ‘The lover is a fish to be baked, as long he has juice in him’, says the bawd at Plautus, Asinaria177, and one needs little imagination to realize what plays can be made on such a theme, and indeed were made at all levels throughout antiquity.