Quotes Index
Herodotus
Mark Merlino - Home page
"Arion of Methymna, the most distinguished musician of that date... Most of his time Arion had spent with Periander, till
he felt a longing to sail to Italy and Sicily.  This he did; and after making a great deal of money in those countries, he
decided to return to Corinth.  He sailed from Tarentum in a Corinthian vessel, because he had more confidence in
Corinthians than in anyone else.  The crew, however, when the ship was at sea, hatched a plot to throw him overboard
and steal his money.  He got wind of their intention, and begged them to take his money, but spare his life.  To no
purpose, however; for the sailors told him either to kill himself if he wanted to buried ashore, or to jump overboard at once.


Arion, seeing they had made up their minds, as a last resort begged permission to stand on the after-deck, dressed in his
singing robes. and give them a song; the song over, he promised to kill himself.  Delighted at the prospect of hearing a
song from the world's most famous singer, the sailors all made their way forward from the stern and assembled
amidships.  Arion put on his full professional costume, took up his lute and, standing on the afterdeck, played and sand a
lively tune.  Then he leapt into the sea, just as he was, with all his clothes on.

The ship continued her voyage to Corinth, but a dolphin picked up Arion and carried him on its back to Taenarum.  Here
Arion landed, and made his way in his singing costume to Corinth, where he told the whole story.  Periander was not too
ready to believe it; so he put Arion under strict supervision, keeping the ship's crew meanwhile carefully in mind.  On their
return he sent for them, and asked if they had anything to tell him about Arion.  'Oh ye,' they answered, 'we left him safe
and sound at Tarentum in Italy.'  But no sooner were the words out of their mouths than Arion himself appeared, just as
he was when he jumped overboard.  This was an unpleasant shock for the sailors.  The lie was detected, and further
denial useless."

Herodotus The Histories
Book I