The Dolphin

Delphinus Constellation

The Story

What is the Dolphin?

The Dolphin is either the dolphin who won the Sea God Poseidon a wife, or the dolphin that saved the life of the famous poet and musician Arion, a real person who lived about 600 B.C.E. The Dolphin

The Dolphin Matchmaker

Poseidon began to seek a wife in the aftermath of the great war in which the elder gods were overthrown to put Poseidon and his fellows of the generation of the younger gods in power. The Sea God courted the sea nymph Amphitrite, but she was repelled by his rough manners, and fled from him. Poseidon sent the dolphin after her. The gentle dolphin pled Poseidon's case with the nymph, speaking of the god in the most glowing terms, and eventually Amphitrite agreed to become wife to Poseidon. In gratitude, the god set an image of the dolphin among the stars to be remembered forever.

The Homesick Musician

Another story tells of the poet and musician Arion who had earned a fortune in the court of King Periander of Corinth. Arion spent many years in Corinth, but he had not been born there. And later in his life he became homesick for his native land. He begged the king for permission to make a visit home again.

How the Dolphin Saved the Musician

On the journey home, Arion was set upon by the sailors of his ship, who proposed to throw him overboard and divide his possessions among themselves. Arion tried to delay his demise by singing a beautiful hymn to Apollo. The god Apollo was so pleased that he sent a dolphin to carry Arion off to safety.

Apollo Carries the Dolphin into the Stars

When the crew of the ship returned to Corinth, they were arrested. Arion recovered his possessions, and the crew was executed. In gratitude to Apollo, Arion had a small dolphin made and set up in the Temple of Apollo at Corinth. Apollo later translated the dolphin statue up to the stars so that humankind might honor the brave and friendly little dolphin forever.  

Copyright © 1998 - 2010 by Arnold V. Lesikar,
Professor Emeritus
Dept. of Physics, Astronomy, and Engineering Science,
St. Cloud State University,St. Cloud, MN 56301-4498

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