Tales From Herodotus VI. How Arion was saved by a dolphin

Translated From Greek

Arion the minstrel had spent the greater part of his time with Periander, the tyrant of Corinth and he was eager to sail to Italy and Sicily. And then, once he had earned a lot of money, he wished to come back to Corinth. And so he set out from Tarentum, and since he trusted no one more than Corinthians, he hired a ship of Corinthian men. But once at sea, they planned to throw Arion overboard and take his money. When he pieced this together, he beseeched [them] and begged for his life, offering them his money. But he did not at all persuade them and instead the sailors ordered him either to kill himself, and thereby obtain a decent burial, or to jump out into the sea as soon as possible. So threatened, and in dire straights, Arion begged them to allow him to sing [for them] in all his attire, standing amidst the rowing benches. He promised kill himself after he had sung.

The men, pleased at the chance to hear the best singer of all men*, withdrew from the stern to the middle of the ship. And he, dressed in all his apparel, took up his lyre and stood in the rowing benches, and went through the orthion hymn. And when he had finished the hymn, he hurled himself into the sea just as he was, with all his apparel.

And they sailed away to Corinth, whereas a dolphin took up Arion, so they say, and carried him all the way to Taenarum. And he came ashore and went to Corinth in his attire, and when he arrived, he told everything that had happened. But Periander, in disbelief, held Arion under guard, being remiss in no way, and he watched carefully for the sailors. And when they did indeed come around, he summoned them and asked if they could say anything about Arion. When those men said that he was safe somewhere in Italy, that they had left him doing well in Tarentum, Arion showed [himself] to them, just as he was when he jumped out [from their ship]. They were so amazed that they were unable to deny his accusations**.

εἰσῆλθε γὰρ αὐτοῖς ἡδονὴ εἰ μέλλοιεν ἀκούσεσθαι τοῦ ἀρίστου ἀνθρώπων ἀοιδοῦ – literally, for pleasure came into them if they would be about to hear the best singer of men.

** καὶ οἱ δὲ ἐκπλαγέντες οὐκ εἶχον ἔτι ἐλεγχόμενοι ἀρνεῖσθαι – literally, and they, being amazed, were no longer able to deny being accused.

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