Translated by Bl. Jackson.
80 Pages (Homilies: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)
6. Let husbands listen as well: here is a lesson for them. The viper vomits forth its venom in respect for marriage; and you, will you not put aside the barbarity and the inhumanity of your soul, out of respect for your union? Perhaps the example of the viper contains another meaning. The union of the viper and of the lamprey is an adulterous violation of nature. You, who are plotting against other men's wedlock, learn what creeping creature you are like. I have only one object, to make all I say turn to the edification of the Church. Let then libertines put a restraint on their passions, for they are taught by the examples set by creatures of earth and sea.
My bodily infirmity and the lateness of the hour force me to end my discourse. However, I have still many observations to make on the products of the sea, for the admiration of my attentive audience. To speak of the sea itself, how does its water change into salt? How is it that coral, a stone so much esteemed, is a plant in the midst of the sea, and when once exposed to the air becomes hard as a rock? Why has nature enclosed in the meanest of animals, in an oyster, so precious an object as a pearl? For these pearls, which are coveted by the caskets of kings, are cast upon the shores, upon the coasts, upon sharp rocks, and enclosed in oyster shells. How can the sea pinna produce her fleece of gold, which no dye has ever imitated?  How can shells give kings purple of a brilliancy not surpassed by the flowers of the field?
"Let the waters bring forth." What necessary object was there that did not immediately appear? What object of luxury was not given to man? Some to supply his needs, some to make him contemplate the marvels of creation. Some are terrible, so as to take our idleness to school. "God created great whales."  Scripture gives them the name of "great" not because they are greater than a shrimp and a sprat, but because the size of their bodies equals that of great hills. Thus when they swim on the surface of the waters one often sees them appear like islands. But these monstrous creatures do not frequent our coasts and shores; they inhabit the Atlantic ocean. Such are these animals created to strike us with terror and awe. If now you hear say that the greatest vessels, sailing with full sails, are easily stopped by a very small fish, by the remora, and so forcibly that the ship remains motionless for a long time, as if it had taken root in the middle of the sea,  do you not see in this little creature a like proof of the power of the Creator? Sword fish, saw fish, dog fish, whales, and sharks, are not therefore the only things to be dreaded; we have to fear no less the spike of the stingray even after its death,  and the sea-hare,  whose mortal blows are as rapid as they are inevitable. Thus the Creator wishes that all may keep you awake, so that full of hope in Him you may avoid the evils with which all these creatures threaten you.
But let us come out of the depths of the sea and take refuge upon the shore. For the marvels of creation, coming one after the other in constant succession like the waves, have submerged my discourse. However, I should not be surprised if, after finding greater wonders upon the earth, my spirit seeks like Jonah's to flee to the sea. But it seems to me, that meeting with these innumerable marvels has made me forget all measure, and experience the fate of those who navigate the high seas without a fixed point to mark their progress, and are often ignorant of the space which they have traversed. This is what has happened to me; whilst my words glanced at creation, I have not been sensible of the multitude of beings of which I spoke to you. But although this honourable assembly is pleased by my speech, and the recital of the marvels of the Master is grateful to the ears of His servants, let me here bring the ship of my discourse to anchor, and await the day to deliver you the rest. Let us, therefore, all arise, and, giving thanks for what has been said, let us ask for strength to hear the rest. Whilst taking your food may the conversation at your table turn upon what has occupied us this morning and this evening. Filled with these thoughts may you, even in sleep, enjoy the pleasure of the day, so that you may be permitted to say, "I sleep but my heart waketh,"  meditating day and night upon the law of the Lord, to Whom be glory and power world without end. Amen.
 The Pinna is a bivalve with a silky beard, of which several species are found in the Mediterranean. The beard is called by modern naturalists byssus. The shell of the giant pinna is sometimes two feet long.
 Gen. i. 21.
 "Tamen omnia haec, pariterque eodem impellentia unus ac parvus admodum pisciculus, echeneis appellatus, in se tenet. Ruant venti licet, et saeviant procellae imperat furori, viresque tantas compescit, et cogit stare navigia: quod non vincula ulla, non anchorae pondere, irrevocabili jactae...Fertur Actiaco marte tenuisse navim Antonii properantis circumire et exhortare suos donec transiret in aliam....Tennit et nostra memoria Caii principis ab Astura Antium renavigantes." Plin. xxxii. 1. The popular error was long lived. "Life is a voyage, and, in our life's ways, Countries, courts, towns, are rocks or remoras." Donne, To Sir Henry Wotton.
 Pliny (ix. 72) says it is sometimes five inches long. AElian (Hist. An. i. 56) calls the wound incurable.
 Pliny (ix. 72) calls it tactu pestilens, and says (xxxii. 3) that no other fish eats it, except the mullet.
 Cant. v. 2.
Reference address : https://www.elpenor.org/basil/hexaemeron.asp?pg=64