When God created the Mediterranean he addressed it, saying, ‘I have created thee and shall send thee my servants. When these will ask for some favour of me, they will say, “Glory to God!” and “God is Holy!” and “God is Great!” and “There is no God but God!” How wilt thou then treat these?’
‘Well, Lord’, replied the Mediterranean – ‘I shall drown them.’ ‘Away with thee — I curse thee — I shall impoverish thy appearance and render thee less fishy!’
From Al-Maqaddasu, The Best Arrangement for the Understanding of the Lands, 37, trans. Miquel, 1963, and quoted as the third epigraph to chapter one of The Corrupting Sea, by Peregrine Horden and Nicholas Purcell (Blackwells, 2000).