Can you explain one of the hundreds of allusions Melville uses in this novel?
For example, Ishmael claims "head winds are far more prevalent than winds from astern (that is, if you never violate the Pythagorean maxim), so for the most part the Commodore on the quarter-deck gets his atmosphere at second hand from the sailors on the forecastle."
This is actually a pretty funny statement, as Pythagoras instructed others on how to purify and redeem their souls, and one of his strict observances was the avoidance of beans, which cause flatulence. So, imagine if you were a Commodore, standing downwind from a bunch of sailors who violated the Pythagorean maxim and ate a bunch of kidney beans for dinner--stinky!!