Moby Dick

what classical references does ishmael give to whaling

chapters 82 83 84

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According to Ishmael, the gallant Perseus, a son of Jupiter, was the first whaleman; those were the "knightly days" of the profession when "we bore arms to succor the distressed, and not to fill men's lamp-feeders." Akin to the adventure of Perseus is the famous story of St. George and the Dragon, which Ishmael maintains to have been a whale. Ishmael calls the "great gods themselves" whalemen, citing the story of Vishnoo, who became incarnate in a whale and rescued the sacred volumes from the bottom of a sea. He calls Vishnoo a whaleman even as a man who rides a horse is a horseman.