Re: NANFA-L-- flesh eating lampreys

Christopher Scharpf (
Mon, 05 Dec 2005 19:32:53 -0400

It's often reported that the ancient Romans were lamprey connoisseurs who
fattened pond-kept lampreys by allowing them to feed on disobedient slaves.
According to early ichthyology expert Ted Pietsch, this is an historical
inaccuracy based on a mistranslation of the Latin "muraena," which means
"moray." So if ancient accounts are correct, the Romans fed slaves to moray
eels, not lampreys.

Not that that's any better.

Chris Scharpf

> From: Mike Austin <>
> Reply-To:
> Date: Mon, 5 Dec 2005 14:37:28 -0800 (PST)
> To:
> Subject: NANFA-L-- flesh eating lampreys
> Came across a program on the "History Channel" about the Roman Empire and
> there was reference to emperors torturing slaves by throwing them into pools
> full of "flesh eating lampreys".....this reference was supported by footage
> showing a writhing mass of lampreys (not eels). Pools that supported lamprey
> were different from all others (baths, swimming etc.) in that they contained
> inverted pots embeded into the edges of the concrete walls...each pot was
> occupied by a lamprey....
> I didn't know lamprey attacked people.... is there any truth to this? What
> species and where?
> Mike
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