Moby-Dick Chapter 82: The Honor and Glory of Whaling Summary
Bragging about his "careful disorderliness" (82.1), Ishmael (or maybe this is Melville’s other narrator) takes another time-out to compare his hunting and storytelling about whales to the long history of whales in literature.
Ishmael retells the story of Perseus and Andromeda, in which Perseus rescues the princess from a sea-monster, and claims that the Romans found a skeleton of a whale in Joppa that the local people claimed came from the monster Perseus slew.
Ishmael also retells the story of St. George and the dragon. He thinks the dragon must have been a whale, and revises the story to make St. George’s horse a seal, the setting for the fight the beach, and so on. This means that the patron saint of England was a whaler, and all whale-hunters should become knights of the order of St. George.
Ishmael isn’t sure if Hercules counts as a whale-hunter, because he was swallowed and vomited up by a whale, but never threw a harpoon at one, but in the end Ishmael accepts his legend as a version of the biblical story of Jonah.
Ishmael also lists an actual god as a whaleman – the Hindu god Vishnu, who was incarnated as a whale at one point,
Thus, the group of whalemen throughout history of which Ishmael proposes himself as a member includes Perseus (a hero), St. George (a saint), Hercules (a demigod), Jonah (a prophet), and Vishnu (a god). Not a bad turnout, really.