The treachery of whales is their smooth envelope. Their bones and muscles are wrapped under a network of dense collagen. Theodora would see a whale from her suburban bower, and wonder, is that some island I have not conquered? Sailors, too, would look from their ships and find its black mass like the smooth contour of a harbor, most often at night or in bad weather. The slick of theirskinglistens and shifts. And even in the most crucial distinctions, as in Christian iconography, when it is important to sort out the evil images from the goodones, no one could give a clear report. Leviathan the Serpent was a "mysteries sea monster," "a crooked serpent," but "also frequently identified as a whale."

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