Constellations: Delphinus

Essay by mpaoneUniversity, Bachelor's March 2004

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Delphinus is the Greek word for Dolphin and this is how the dolphin came to be placed among the stars. Poseidon wished to make Amphitrite his wife, she, out of modesty, fled to Mount Atlas, eager to preserve her virginity. Poseidon sent out many searchers to find her, among them the dolphin. While wandering about the islands of Atlas, the dolphin discovered Amphitrite, whereupon it announced her discovery and brought her to Poseidon, who married her and decreed the highest honors of the sea for the dolphin. He declared the dolphin sacred and placed an image of it among the stars. Those who wish to please Poseidon, represent him holding the dolphin in his hand, and thus render to the dolphin the highest possible honor for the service it provided. Another story, which explains how Delphinus came to be, is the story of Arion. Arion was preeminent in his art and earned his living by touring the islands.

His young slaves, judging that there was greater advantage in freedom gained by treachery than in peaceful servitude, considered that if they threw their master overboard, they could divide his belongings among them. Arion, when he perceived their plot, requested, not as master from slaves or as an innocent victim from wicked men, but as a parent from his sons, that he be permitted to put on the robe he had often worn in victory, since there was no one other than himself who could mark his misfortune with a lament. When he obtained his request, he took up his cithara, and began to lament his own death. Drawn by the sound, dolphins from all parts of the sea swam up to hear the singing of Arion. Invoking the power of the immortal gods, Arion threw himself upon the dolphins, and one...