The strange story of whales and serpents continued into the Renaissance. Their monsters stretched "long and large,...in bulk as huge as whom the fables name of monstrous size." Preferring the northern climes to the balmy south pacific or Galapagos, they loomed large just off Scandinavia, as Milton remembers: "That sea-beast Leviathan, which God of all his works create hugest that swim the ocean stream: Him haply slumbering on the Norway foam.
But over time eye witnesses placed the creature not off the coast of Norway, not in the ocean, but in the biggest lake at the center of the world. Procopius, the Byzantine historian who wrote his Secret History, remembers most of all the treachery of Empress Theodora, but her story recalls the creature too:Most of the year the Empress spent her time in the suburbs overlooking the sea, chiefly in the place called Herion. This meant a great deal of discomfort for her huge retinue of attendants; for provisions were in short supply, and they were exposed to dangers from the sea, especially if a storm happened to break, or the whale made a sudden attack somewhere in the area. But their master and mistress were indifferent..." Procopius named his whale Porphyrion. It disrupted plans - mostly nautical and economic- for half a century, but could not keep Theodora from her beach house.