According to one Greek
myth, the musician named Arion was the greatest singer who ever existed. He
was the court musician for the King of Corinth, Periander. So great was Arion's
fame that he made a tour of Sicily. During his visit to Sicily he was awarded
many prizes and given gold and much money. Now the crew of the vessel waiting
to take Arion back to Corinth knew of his newly acquired wealth. They plotted
to steal it from him and then cast him into the sea sometime during the return
In a dream, Arion was informed by Apollo of the plot against his life. When the time came and the murderous crew made their move, Arion made one last request--that he be permitted to sing a farewell song. The crew could see no danger in that and agreed. So he dressed in his finest court garments and stood on the bow of the ship and began to sing. So sweet was his song that sea creatures of many kinds surrounded the ship to listen. Among them was a school of dolphins.
Arion saw that the dolphins seemed very pleased with his song and just before
he reached the end of it he plunged overboard amid the dolphins. One of the
animals caught him before he struck the water and raced off with him towards
Corinth. It was with great difficulty that Arion hung on, so swift was the
dolphin's course through the sea. The startled crew looked on helplessly and
believed that surly Arion would fall off the dolphin and drown.
But the dolphin safely carried Arion to Corinth. Arion told the king of the crew's plot and when the vessel docked, Periander was waiting for them. The crew said that Arion had decided to remain in Sicily, so great was the wealth he had acquired there. When Arion stepped into view and the crew saw him, they were so terrified they confessed their plot. King Periander crucified them to the last man. So pleased was Apollo with the good dolphin's role in rescuing Arion that the god gave the dolphin a place among the stars.