A Musical Joke©
Arion was the most celebrated musician in his time and he served Periander, the despot of Corinth. After serving him for long he took leave for a certain period. First he sailed for Sicily and went though Italy where his musical gifts earned him great wealth. Then it was time for him to return to the court of his master. He took the same Corinthian vessel on his way back. During his long voyage the crew seeing all those wealth in his possession planned to kill him and divide the money among themselves. That night however Arion saw in a dream a dolphin and it said to him, “ Your life is in a danger. Let us play a musical joke on the villains who are steering your course to a watery grave.” Next morning the crew approached the musician and said, “Kill yourself if you want a burial ashore. Or we will throw you overboard.” Poor Arion of Methymna! He was terrified of water. Much more was his terror to be carried around as a carrion in a ship. So he agreed to take his chances with a watery grave. “Before I jump to my death let me at least sing a farewell song to you. Thereafter you may do what you will.” He put on his costume and gave a song to them. Then he leapt into the sea. The ship with the villainous crew sailed onwards to Corinth.
Arion struggled to keep afloat and at last he felt drowsy and he would have perished but a dolphin appeared out of nowhere and it said, “Sing a song so I may be cheered along”. Arion sang a song as he had never sang before. After he finished the dolphin observed, “ That song you sang for the crew was delectable but infinitely sad. How come you now sing a song of such cheer?” Arion eyed the approaching coastline and he could see the familiar features of Corinth and said, “Out there I sang to the band of thieves as though my life was pouring out of me, syllable by syllable. Literally. But you made me sing as though life was being poured on me.”
Arion after landing ashore went to Periander who didn’t believe his story. He called the captain of the ship to the palace and asked what befell Arion. The villain replied that he left the singer safe and sound at Tarentum in Italy. At that point Arion appeared before them and the Captain could not believe his eyes. The Despot said, “ You and your crew are worthy of death. I shall spare you if you can sing for your life. Lives of your crew depend on you.”
Poor Captain, he just croaked. Periander had them killed for their villainy.
Since then sailors would rather sing shanty than solo. (ack:Herodotus-The Histories)
How Sailors Came to Sing Shanties
January 30, 2009 by Benny Thomas
A Musical Joke©