The Dolphin

Pliny says:--"The Dolphin is an animal not only friendly to man, but a

lover of music as well; he is charmed by melodious concerts, and more

especially by the notes of the water organ. He does not dread man, as

though a stranger to him, but comes to meet ships, leaps and bounds to

and fro, vies with them in swiftness, and passes them even when in full


"In the reign of the late Emperor Augustus, a do
phin which had been

carried to the Lucrine Lake, conceived a most wonderful affection for

the child of a certain poor man, who was in the habit of going that way

from Baiae to Puteoli to school, and who used to stop there in the middle

of the day, call him by his name of Simo, and would often entice him

to the banks of the lake with pieces of bread which he carried for the

purpose. At whatever hour of the day he might happen to be called by the

boy, and although hidden and out of sight at the bottom of the water, he

would instantly fly to the surface, and after feeding from his hand,

would present his back for him to mount, taking care to conceal the

spiny projection of his fins in their sheath, as it were; and so,

sportively taking him up on his back, he would carry him over a wide

expanse of sea to the school at Puteoli, and in a similar manner bring

him back again. This happened for several years, until, at last, the boy

happened to fall ill of some malady, and died. The Dolphin, however,

still came to the same spot as usual, with a sorrowful air, and

manifesting every sign of deep affliction, until at last, a thing of

which no one felt the slightest doubt, he died purely of sorrow and


"Within these few years also, another at Hippo Diarrhytus, on the coast

of Africa, in a similar manner used to receive his food from the hands

of various persons, present himself for their caresses, sport about

among the swimmers, and carry them on his back. On being rubbed with

unguents by Flavianus, the then pro-consul of Africa, he was lulled to

sleep, as it appeared, by the sensation of an odour so new to him, and

floated about just as though he had been dead. For some months after

this, he carefully avoided all intercourse with man, just as if he had

received some affront or other; but, at the end of that time, he

returned, and afforded just the same wonderful scenes as before. At

last, the vexations that were caused them by having to entertain so many

influential men who came to see this sight, compelled the people of

Hippo to put the animal to death....

"Hegesidemus has also informed us, that, in the city of Iasus (the

island and city of Caria), there was another boy also, Hermias by name,

who in a similar manner used to traverse the sea on a dolphin's back,

but that, on one occasion, a tempest suddenly arising, he lost his life,

and was brought back dead: upon which, the dolphin, who thus admitted

that he had been the cause of his death, would not return to the sea,

but lay down upon dry land and there expired."

Du Bartas gives us a new trait in the Dolphin's character:--

"Even as the Dolphins do themselves expose,

For their live fellows, and beneath the waves

Cover their dead ones under sandy graves."