Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Arion was a legendary poet and citharode in ancient Greece (originally of Lesbos) who lived in the court of Periander, tyrant of Corinth, Greece. He attended a musical competition in Sicily, which he won. On his return trip from Sicily, the avaricious sailors plotted to kill Arion and steal the rich prizes he carried homewards. Arion was given the choice of "suicide" with a proper burial on land, or being thrown in the sea to perish. Neither prospect appealed to Arion and he asked for permission to sing a last song to win time.
Playing his chitara, Arion song a praise to Apollo, the god of poetry, and his song attracted a number of dolphins around the ship. At the end of the song Arion threw himself in the sea rather than be killed, but one of the dolphins saved his life and carried him to safety at Cape Taenarum .
Arion then continued to Corinth by other means and arrived before the sailors that tried to kill him. On his return to Corinth, the king didn't quite believe Arion's fantastic story. The sailors believed Arion was dead in the sea, and on arrival in Corinth they told the king that Arion had decided to remain in Italy. The king then understood that Arion's story was true and punished the sailors with death. Herodotus I, 23-24
Other variations of the story exist.
Arion was credited with the invention of the dithyramb.
The Arion fable inspired the central sculptural group in the main water basin of the formal gardens of Schloss Schwetzingen, Germany.
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