The Greek and Latin world viewed khrόmis as essentially a vocal fish and a highly esteemed one, which does not match the identification, provided by Rondelet and ratified by Linnaeus, with the Mediterranean damselfish, Chromis chromis (Linnaeus, 1758) (also extended to the other pomacentrids of the genus Chromis). Trying to explain the reason behind Rondelet’s misidentification deepens our understanding of the anthropozoology of the fish actually called khrόmis by the ancients (in fact a sciaenid, most likely the shi drum, Umbrina cirrosa (Linnaeus, 1758)), while at the same time providing a possible interpretation to immunda chromis (lit. ‘unclean chromis’), an obscure syntagm found in Ovid’s (?) Halieutica.
Sciaenidae, Pomacentridae, ethnobiological names, Greek-Latin fish names, Ovid’s Halieutica, immunda chromis, brown meagre, shi drum, damselfish